The Denver Nuggets enter the All-Star Weekend with only one participant in any event, Nikola Jokic in the All-Star game. Though it would’ve been cool to see Aaron Gordon in the dunk contest again, he has said that he is done competing in it. The Nuggets currently sit at 33-25 which leaves them as the 6 seed. With the roster all but locked in for the rest of the season, I think it’s time to grade each Nugget player’s season at the All-Star Game break.
Nikola Jokic: A++
Jokic is the reigning MVP of the league and is somehow having a better season now than he did last year. There is nothing on the court that Jokic can’t do at an above-average rate. He is the soul of this Nuggets team. There is no player in the league that can compare with Jokic’s impact on the Nuggets.
Aaron Gordon: A
AG has had some stellar games this season, he has improved a lot at creating his own shot and not being so reliant on finishing around the rim. In some games, he really brings a lot to the table but in some other games he just floats around. But this is not what we got AG for, he has done a remarkable job changing his role on this team with so many injuries. He is also Denver’s best on-ball defender and handles the premier matchup every night.
Bones Hyland: B+
Bones earns his spot here because we did not expect our 26th pick to be this good and exciting. He hasn’t been perfect by any means, going through the same struggles as most rookie guards trying to transition more to PG. But his presence behind a healthy Jamal Murray is something Nuggets fans should be excited about and not something the team was not expecting to have this season.
Jeff Green: B+
Green’s singing in free agency went under the radar of most, his veteran presence, as well as his play, bring a lot to Denver. Despite being 35 years old, Green is the Nuggets second best dunker and has thrived next to Nikola Jokic. The shooting has been a little bit inconsistent, especially from 3. Jeff has also slowed down a bit, making him not as great as a defender as he once was. Overall, Jeff Green has been a very solid pickup.
Monte Morris: B
Monte has been put into the starting PG role with Jamal out for the majority of the season. He is averaging career highs across the board but he is playing much more minutes than he ever has before. Monte has been doing a good job of what he’s been asked to do, he’s just been a little inconsistent shooting the ball.
Zeke Nnaji: B
Nnaji still has tons of upside and showing us that this season. He has emerged as one of the Nuggets best perimeter defenders and can shoot the ball well. He is also 6’10 and has put on a lot of weight since being drafted. Nnaji’s minutes are somewhat inconsistent, in some games he’ll play 30 min and in others he’ll only play 10 or so. Nnaji needs some significant playoff minutes and I’ll feel more confident in him.
Will Barton: B-
Barton has been one of the most frustrating players on the Nuggets this season, his shot selection and lack of effort on defense is tough to handle sometimes. Will hasn’t been all bad though, every so often the Nuggets get Thrill and not just Will Barton. He has hit some big shots this year, just iso-Barton isn’t especially good for the Nuggets.
Bryn Forbes: B-
Forbes was acquired in a trade near the deadline. He hasn’t been fully accustomed to being a Nugget yet so his inconsistent play can be excused. But, when Bryn is hot the Nuggets are a really good team. One of Forbes or Bones is the Nuggets best off dribble 3 point shooter, the odds of the Nuggets going totally cold from three are significantly less with the two of those guys on the roster. Forbes is also fresh off a title with the Bucks and can provide leadership to this team.
Davon Reed: B-
Reed was playing in the G-League for a lot of this season, for him to come and contribute anything for this team is impressive. His defense has been wonderful for the Nuggets as he gives them another pesky defender. We all saw what he was doing to LeBron when Reed played the Lakers. If Davon can shoot threes at a higher percentage he could find a permanent spot in the rotation
JaMychal Green: C
JaMychal had a rough start to the season but recently he’s been playing much better. Green’s three-point shooting was abysmal at the start of the season, he has become a lot more physical on the inside and dunking more as a result. His three-point percentage dropped from 39% last year to 26% now. Green is too small to guard traditional centers but can defend small-ball lineups well.
DeMarcus Cousins: C
After having a decent stretch for the Milwaukee Bucks at the beginning of the season, Boogie came to Denver after being waived. He has picked up a few Techs in his time here already but he appears to be a decent option at center when Jokic checks out. He has definitely not been perfect and there could be a buyout player that replaces Boogie’s spot but Coach Malone says he likes him and the fans like him so I think he’ll be here for the rest of the season.
Markus Howard: C
Howard has seen little time with a knee injury sidelining him for a decent amount of the season, but when he has played he hasn’t been great. Forbes essentially does what Markus did and Bryn does it more reliably. Howard is a good locker room guy, but I don’t see a path for him to play many minutes with the way Denver’s guard rotation currently is.
Austin Rivers: C-
Rivers has not been very good for Denver this season. He is shooting the worst percentage from three over the last 4 years of his career. Rivers has also been fouling a lot and doesn’t always play the best defense. His shot selection isn’t the best at times but he is a nice guy and a good locker room presence.
Vlatko Cancar: C-
Vlatko has played spotty minutes for his whole career and this year is no different. He still can’t shoot all that well and mostly relies on his athleticism and instincts to propel him. Despite being injured for likely the rest of the season, Vlatko wasn’t playing great before the injury. Jokic is good friends with Vlatko so it’s probably best to keep him around but otherwise, he hasn’t done much this season.
Facu Campazzo: D
Facu is a tough player to grade, I enjoy watching him play and he is a fun player. He just has a very exploitable skill-set. Most players in the league can post him up and he is a mismatch for almost anyone in the league. Players who are just above 6 feet tall can still shoot over Facu. He can’t shoot 3’s very well either so he doesn’t bring much to Denver. While Campazzo’s flashy play style can be fun to root for, he is not good for this Nuggets team. I truly hope Facu finds a place where he can play, I really do enjoy watching him.
Jamal Murray: N/A
Jamal hasn't played all year but he’s been around the team for almost every home game and that deserves recognition. He really loves this game and these guys and I know I can’t wait for him to be back.
Michael Porter Jr.: N/A
MPJ only played a handful of games until it was determined that he would need another surgery on his back. He never looked right and I don’t feel like it's fair to judge his play off of that 9 game span.