The Denver Nuggets continued to impress in the month of January, as Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray lead the team during their injury-riddled period. When Murray comes back from a sprained ankle, we’ll finally get to see the team healthier than they’ve been since the second game of the season. Will that health be enough to help the team keep their current pace despite a tough schedule ahead?
Record in January: 12-4
Overall record: 35-15
Game of the Month: Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies, January 28, 2019
In the first half of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 28th, it looked like we were headed for an ugly loss. I never would have been able to guess that by the end of the game, I would be left fist pumping and would spend the next 24 hours thinking to myself, “How the heck did that happen?” The Nuggets fell behind by 25 points in the third quarter in this game, and all hope looked lost. The Grizzlies were shooting lights out from three in the first half and the Nuggets could not seem to find the basket.
Things changed, however, once the Nuggets started getting serious on the defensive end. Soon, the lead was gradually cut to something much more respectable. Still, how many times have we been there before? Our team falls behind by a lot, rallies to make the game interesting, but is never quite able to get over the hump and actually obtain the lead. Well, a sports fan’s dream came true on Monday because the Nuggets not only made the game interesting but actually managed to win the game, thanks to clutch threes by Malik Beasley and Will Barton, and the steady offense of Jokic. This game will go down in the books as one of the greatest comebacks in Nuggets franchise history.
Highlight of the Month:
The month of January was filled with a lot of quality highlights, but none made the rounds more on social media than the one of Jokic throwing a football pass across the court to Murray, who slammed it home. The accuracy of the pass is what makes the highlight so spectacular. The pass was accurate enough to allow the ball not to get intercepted by a trailing Avery Bradley. Jokic has made some really incredible assists over his short career so far, but none are more impressive than this one.
Player of the month: Nikola Jokic
Jokic continues to strengthen his case for MVP. In the month of January, he averaged 25.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 11.7 rebounds to lead the injury-riddled Nuggets to yet another great month. Jokic also notched six (SIX) triple doubles in January. He’s also solidified himself as one of the best closers in the league, which Michael Malone confirmed in his post game press conference following the win against the New Orleans Pelicans. On Thursday, Jokic was named as an all-star, the Nuggets’ first since Carmelo Anthony in 2011. That’s a pretty fun way to start the next month, and Nuggets fans should be excited for plenty more highlights from their all-star.
Michael Malone On Jokic’s performance down the stretch: “Last year it was closer by committee. This year it’s clear. Everybody knows where the ball is going. Nikola Jokic is our closer.”— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) January 31, 2019
Story of the Month:
It’s almost amusing at this point. The Nuggets were finally able to get mostly healthy in January, as Paul Millsap returned from a broken toe at the end of December, Gary Harris returned from missing games with both a hip and a hamstring injury, and Barton made his long awaited return to the court after undergoing hip surgery. So, the thought was among Nuggets fans that once Malone felt it appropriate to return all of those players to the starting lineup after working them back in gradually by coming off the bench, that we would get to see just how dominant the new starting 5 is with Barton. However, things didn’t go according to plan, as a Jokic suspension followed by a Murray injury will force fans to wait a little bit longer to see how this lineup does. It’s a good thing that patience is a virtue that many Nuggets’ fans are naturally built with.
Surprise of the month: Jarred Vanderbilt makes his NBA debut
It hasn’t been known this entire season whether or not Nuggets’ rookie Jarred Vanderbilt would suit up for the Nuggets this season. When it was reported that he was starting to participate in practices, there were some murmurs about his possible return being close. However, due to the fact that Vanderbilt had not seen any game action since February of last year, it made all the sense in the world for fans to be less than optimistic that Vanderbilt would see any action even if he did get healthy. However, on January 25th against the Phoenix Suns, with a little less than four minutes to go, Vanderbilt checked into the game to make his NBA debut. He did not disappoint, as he made a highlight bounce pass to Malik Beasley, brought down three rebounds, and scored his first point on a free throw. Vanderbilt is now spending time with the G-league’s Delaware Blue Coats where he will get back into shape before rejoining the team.
Grade for the month: A-
What’s new on Denver Stiffs:
Just as the Nuggets put up a lot of highlights and wins this month, so too did the Denver Stiffs. Here are just some of the pieces you should check out, if you haven’t done so already:
- Adam Mares pens a great piece in response to a comment Bill Simmons made about the Nuggets on the Lowe Post podcast. Read the piece that gained the attention of Simmons himself.
- Ryan Blackburn analyzes the different moves that the Nuggets can make with the upcoming trade deadline.
- Zach Mikash brings us his annual trade value power rankings. Which players would bring back the most value in a trade?
- Adam welcomed Nuggets’ Presidents of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly on the Locked on Nuggets podcast to talk about how they were able to acquire their players.
- Lastly, check out Evan Fiala’s piece on why Jokic deserves to be in the MVP conversation.
Also, make sure to check out the latest shirt from D Line Co featuring the Nuggets’ sixth man, Malik Beasley.