The Denver Nuggets are getting to a new territory after their star Nikola Jokic nabbed its second consecutive MVP award for the 2021-22 regular season. As far as roster moves go, Denver is set to become a real title contender next season.
With Jamal Murray back in action and Michael Porter Jr. good to go, Denver was set to add more depth and create the best environment for Nikola Jokic to succeed with the team. If they remain healthy, the Nuggets will enter their “championship or bust” state.
“We have a two-time MVP, we have two more All-Star-caliber players coming off injuries. And I think that we are poised in a way that perhaps this organization hasn’t been in the past,” Josh Kroenke told several reporters last month.
Not only they have enough star power but they also add much-needed depth this offseason. Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan joined the team via free agency, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith were acquired from the Washington Wizards.
Add those to the core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and sophomore Bones Hyland and you have a team that can go all the way to win the title next season, on paper at least.
The last time Jokic, Murray and Porter were at 100 percent health and together on the court during the postseason, the Nuggets reached the Western Conference Finals beating the Utah Jazz and the star-studded Clippers to eventually lose to the Lakers.
With the addition of KCP, the Nuggets added much-need perimteter shot making, which will be upgraded also from the return of Jamal Murray, while Michael Porter Jr. is also a capable shot creator and shot maker from beyond the arc.
Caldwell-Pope is also bringing winning habits, being the only player in the roster that have won an NBA title. In addition, the team will have a mix of experience and enthusiasm in the perimerimeter with Ish Smith and Bones Hyland.
Jamal Murray is expected to be an important part for the Nuggets’ plan next season. Jokic will operate with less pressure if Murray returns to his high standards. Murray will appear in his first game since the early 2021 season, when he went down with an ACL injury.
He was unable to return last season, but in the upcoming season, he will be ready to compete after going through a tough recovery stint. Murray will be vital for any success next season for the Colorado franchise.
“A championship mindset, a winning attitude, and raising everybody’s level of play,” Murray stated to Michael Scotto of Hoopshype referring to what he brings to the table next season.“That’s what I do best.”
The 25-year-old appeared in 48 games before his injury, averaging All-Star numbers across the board. He finished the 2020-21 season with averages of 21.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 35 minutes per contest.
Depth will be the key
The Nuggets suffered by lack of bench depth the last few years. Hopefully this will not be the case for them going forward. Bruce Brown will be an important piece, while Denver showcased their faith to the soon-to-become sophomore Bones Hyland.
Hyland showcased his ability to torch bench units in his rookie year and he will appear improved after his second offseason in the NBA. The Nuggets showed their faith in Hyland’s talent by trading away a crucial piece like Monte Morris.
Monte Morris was expected to go back coming off the bench with Murray back, but Denver hopes Hyland to take up that role alongside veteran Ish Smith in the same manner that he played alongside Facundo Campazzo last season.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray will have to find their footing together and lead the Nuggets to new highs. The last time they were able to play together, Denver had one of the best playoff runs in years.
Jokic will be once again the battering ram, which will be unlocking defenses with the unreal passing ability and the chance to find more teammates capable of making shots around him.
Murray will also have some work cut out for him, while Michael Porter Jr. will have to prove he’s an All-Star caliber player alongside Murray and Jokic. The Nuggets put themselves in the best possible place to succeed, and they have to see if they can realize their ambitions the upcoming season.