It doesn’t matter if the NBA is slow in the offseason: in fantasy basketball, it’s a race. With so many teams and so few hours to devote to the game, it’s not surprising that many players and owners often come up empty in the middle of the season.
If you’ve been following the Denver Nuggets the last couple of seasons, you have been being treated to a steady dose of double-doubles from Nikola Jokic. The third year guard, who is a bit undersized at 6’9″ and 270lbs, brought his typical high motor and strong playmaking to the court. Jokic was a big reason why the Nuggets have been being being being being being being being being being being being being being being being being (you get the picture) a title contender.
The Denver Nuggets have been on a tear of late, winning 14 of their last 15 games to clinch a playoff spot. Their hot streak coincides with a breakout season from Nikola Jokic, a 23 year-old center who has been dubbed the “best player of the future” by many. Jokic has been a revelation, averaging a career-high of 26.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. In fact, Jokic is currently the only player in the NBA scoring 25+ points per night.
NBA fans were treated to a treat this offseason, as their favorite clubs bolstered their rosters in order to improve their championship chances. Some significant acquisitions were made to teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat, among others. Fans began to dream about all kinds of victorious situations as these teams became the buzz of the town. The Denver Nuggets, on the other hand, were not mentioned in these discussions.
It’s an odd event. Even though the Nuggets have been one of the top teams in the Western Conference for the last three seasons, they continue to be treated in this manner. However, there are three reasons why Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets are heavily favored to win the championship this season.
Storylines that are “stacked”
It’s reasonable to assume that clubs who qualified for the NBA Playoffs last season, such as the Nuggets, will retain (if not enhance) their status in the 2021-22 NBA season. The Phoenix Suns will be riding high in the Western Conference after their outstanding season last year. The Lakers, who completely revamped their lineup, will be favorites to win the championship once again. There are concerns about their new lineup, which includes a lot of elderly guys, but fans and pundits should know by now that it’s stupid to dismiss a team’s prospects, particularly when LeBron James is on the roster. There’s also the Golden State Warriors, who have Klay Thompson back in their lineup.
The Milwaukee Bucks will continue to be a championship contender in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have bolstered their prospects once again with the signings of Patty Mills and Paul Millsap. The Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and New York Knicks are among the teams likely to compete. The Bulls, who have Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso on their roster, have been labeled as a serious up-and-coming team.
The Nuggets, who have just veteran forward Jeff Green as their main acquisition, may have been overlooked by these various stories. Their lack of summer action isn’t always a sign of a front office failure. With the additions of Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and the ever-improving Michael Porter Jr., the roster is already very strong. However, this is how the NBA works at times. Teams with a winning past or “generational talent” seem to receive more attention than the others.
Murray and Will Barton were both injured last season, which slowed down the Nuggets’ season. In the NBA Playoffs, Barton was able to return and play four games. Murray missed the whole playoffs after tearing his ACL in April. Barton has now recovered from his hamstring injury, but he will continue to be a source of worry in the future. After all, in Murray’s absence, he’ll be expected to perform more than normal.
Murray will face similar issues, but on a deeper level. ACL tears were the kiss of death for a musician’s career back then. Athletes today, on the other hand, have done an excellent job of recovering from horrific injuries. As a result, the main source of worry is the amount of time Murray is expected to miss. So much so that some are questioning the Nuggets’ prospects of even making the playoffs. However, even without Murray, the Nuggets will still reach the playoffs. The larger issue is how his extended absence and quick return will impact the team’s overall dynamic.
This seems to be a minor issue, particularly considering Murray has been a part of Mike Malone’s system for a long time. So it’s fair to anticipate that whenever he returns, the team will adapt quickly. This doesn’t rule out the potential of some chemistry issues in the squad once the rotation is adjusted.
Last Season’s Disappointing Playoff Run
The Suns knocked the Nuggets out of the Western Conference Semifinals in four games. Given that the Nuggets were shorthanded, we may argue that the Suns had a small edge going into the matchup. The Nuggets, though, still had the league MVP in the mix. They also had other important players including Barton, Monte Morris, and PJ Dozier. Not to mention Porter, who made significant progress last season.
It was unavoidable for the Nuggets to lose this game. But shouldn’t they have gotten at least one or two games against the Suns? They not only had the tools, but they were also a far more experienced playoff team.
Perhaps this is what both fans and critics are thinking. The Nuggets’ disappointing performance in last year’s NBA Playoffs may have depressed their spirits. Momentum is important in many aspects of life, but particularly in sports.
The Denver Nuggets are currently tied for the best record in the NBA at 41-19, which puts them in the driver’s seat for playoff birth. However, many casual fans are still sleeping on the Nuggets, for two main reasons. The first has to do with the fan base’s perception of the team. Despite having a top-10 offense (second-best in the entire league), the Nuggets’ defense has fallen to 19th (10th-worst). The second reason has to do with the fact that Denver has lost two of its past three games, both by double digits.. Read more about jokic stats 2021 and let us know what you think.
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