Let’s not beat around the bush: the Denver Nuggets have what it takes to win their first ever NBA championship this season. No joke, this team is really good and might be the most talented team in the NBA after the addition of Aaron Gordon at last week’s trade deadline.
I know, I know, what about the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers? Sure, those teams are great, but I’ll take the Nuggets roster over both of those squads any day of the week. It starts and ends with Nikola Jokić, who has been the best player in the NBA this season and is without a doubt the clear and concise MVP winner if the season ended today.
Then, you add in a growing superstar like Jamal Murray — who is finally starting to find his rhythm after a rough start to begin the season — which makes for arguably the best duo in the entire NBA. That’s just two guys in the starting lineup as we haven't even touched on the Nuggets 22-year old star of a forward in Michael Porter Jr., who also like Murray is starting to really hit his stride.
All three of those guys make up the Nuggets big three. It’s something they’ve had all season; it just took awhile for them to finally mesh together. What was missing before last week was that other player who could defend and provide a scoring upside within the Nuggets starting unit. In steps Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic, who has been nothing short of special in his first two games with the Nuggets.
Gordon’s stats won't blow you away from his first two games, but he truly has accepted his role and is a perfect fit within the Nuggets starting unit. In his first two games, Gordon has locked up guys like John Collins, Trae Young, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris on the defensive end of the floor. In years past, the Nuggets have struggled to guard powerhouse players in the Western Conference like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard. Well, that might no longer be such a gargantuan problem with Gordon on the roster.
The Nuggets now have the ability to match Gordon up with the opposing team’s best scorer on a nightly basis, while also losing nothing on the offensive end of the floor. When you really look at it, Gordon is definitely an upgrade offensively to other defensive minded players the Nuggets have started in years past like Gary Harris, Jerami Grant, and Torrey Craig.
Then there’s Will Barton III, who should be labeled as the “glue” guy within the Nuggets starting five. Not only does Barton always bring the energy defensively, but he can also get you a bucket whenever you need one. Barton may move back to the bench whenever Monte Morris returns from injury, but whether it’s Barton or Morris coming off the bench or starting the Nuggets are going to be perfectly fine with whatever Michael Malone decides to do.
We’ve touched on six guys already, but there are also five wild card players who are going to play a big role in the Nuggets title push: PJ Dozier, Paul Millsap, JaMychal Green, Facundo Campazzo, and JaVale McGee. Denver will — more than likely — set in stone an eight to nine man rotation as the season starts winding down to get ready for the playoffs, but until then all five of the players listed above have a real opportunity to prove why they deserve playoff minutes.
Dozier feels like a lock to play in the postseason because of his defensive versatility, and the same could be said for both Millsap and Green. Campazzo and McGee are the two Nuggets who will probably play based on different matchups, which is perfectly fine because both understand their role and can contribute when or if their number is called.
Depth is certainly going to help the Nuggets in their attempt to reach the promised land, but this team revolves around their “core four” of Jokic, Murray, Porter, and Gordon. The big three of Jokic, Murray, and Porter have really started to figure it out over the past month and it’s led to the Nuggets absolutely dominating the completion.
AIR GORDON has landed in the Mile High City pic.twitter.com/TRcsA5Oqiy— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 31, 2021
Adding Gordon to the mix has been easy through two games, which showcases just how unselfish this Nuggets team is. It’s something you rarely say about other contending teams as Denver has a chemistry and formula that is unmatched by any team in the NBA.
It’s why a player like Aaron Gordon can join a team 45 games into the season and not skip a beat. Sure, it has a lot to do with skill, but it also has to do with the culture and attitude of the players in the locker room. The Nuggets have a locker room filled with players who have one goal in mind and that is winning a championship.
There is no hidden agenda, it’s all about the ultimate goal, which is bringing a championship to the Mile High City. It’s been just two games since the addition of Gordon, but if the Nuggets keep this up, it’s going to be hard for anyone to top them in a seven games series. Denver proved how tough an out they were last season and that was in a year where they made their first real threat for a title since 2009. Another year of growing chemistry and the addition of Gordon elevates this team to new heights, which should scare the rest of the NBA come playoff time.
This team is ready to make a title run. They continue to prove that night in and night out.