If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.

Welcome back! After taking an extended hiatus, I’m back for another season of Film Fridays. Previously, this column was produced on an every week basis, but, moving forward, I’m not going to commit to that just to avoid forcing out content that I feel is below my standard. There will be weeks where I go back-to-back, but it’s not going to be a guarantee. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we’re covering the reigning NBA champions, and man that feels good to say.

Through five games, the Nuggets are 4-1 with wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and a blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. Denver is only 12th in offensive rating, but they’re fourth in defensive rating to start the year. Even in a game that they got shut down by the Minnesota Timberwolves, they still only allowed 110 points on the night. The offense will bounce back as it always has, but these early returns on the defensive end are great to see.

For today’s topic, we’re just looking at the early returns from the first couple weeks of the season. It’s a long year ahead of us, and we’re seeing the start of a team that is ready to defend their title. While they lost a couple rotation players from last season, some of the younger players that have stepped in to fill those minutes have looked strong thus far. It’s early, but this team could be even better than the Nuggets’ group from last year. 

Bench Progress


With a healthy Jamal Murray in the fold this year, the Nuggets are able to run a bench unit that features him as the lone starter, and, while there are some kinks to be worked out, there are some positive flashes to be seen. In this clip, we see what the Nuggets have been trying to build with their draft selections over the last few years. Murray is the lone starter, and the frontcourt features no true centers with three long-armed wings. Their wings are swarming around the Thunder guards, and it results in a bad pass and a free dunk. 

Just a few minutes later to start the fourth quarter. The lineup remains unchanged for Denver, and the play is largely just two guys making the play. The best part of it is that neither of them are longtime veterans. Peyton Watson gets the steal off of Chet Holmgren, and it immediately turns into a fastbreak opportunity. Christian Braun runs the break and throws the lob up to Watson. This is exactly what the Nuggets envisioned when they drafted these guys last season.

Murray’s Back

When we got into the playoffs last season, Murray took his gameplay to another level. The main question I had was how would he look this year? Well, he’s picking up right where he left off, and the scoring acumen is still there. He ran this little two-man game to open up the night against the Memphis Grizzlies with Nikola Jokic, and there wasn’t anything the Grizzlies could do against it. It’s a little give-and-go between the two of them with Murray using the screens from Jokic to generate a little space, and he makes the stepback triple look easy. 


The main area where I’ve really noticed a specific improvement from Murray is his passing. Murray has five or more assists in all five games, and he’s gotten eight or more twice. When playing with this athletic second unit, he’s willing to find shooters and cutters, and those guys just have to make sure they’re moving and have their eyes up because the ball will find them. Here, Murray gets Lauri Markkanen switched onto him, and he starts attacking immediately. Murray gets to the charity stripe, and he could have forced up a tough jumper. Instead, he rockets an overhead pass to Watson in the corner. Watson’s man had moved towards the paint, and, when he closes out for the contest, Watson was able to drive right past him. This athletic Murray was missing early in the season last year, but he is fully back to start this year.

He is Inevitable

As much ire as he draws from the national media, you would assume that Jokic actually completed the Thanos snap against their families. In reality, Jokic shows up every single night with the most frustrating bag of tricks for opponents to deal with. He really is the inevitable one. Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers showed up after talking a lot this summer about what they were going to do to the Nuggets. After all that talking, Jokic came out and put up a 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assist triple double while shooting 54.5 percent from the field including 60 percent from 3-point range. This play against Davis isn’t anything crazy. It’s just Jokic playing like he’s that older brother that’s bigger than you and just knows the game better. He gets isolated against Davis, backs him down, and just scores the easy up and under to extend the lead.

What’s Lauri supposed to do here? He’s giving up 40 pounds to Jokic, so he can outmuscle him. Jokic gets him to the spot that he wants him, and he just flips up the little hookshot over his outstretched hand. It’s a tense game in the fourth quarter with a lot of noise going on around the arena. However, with the calmness that he plays with, you would assume that he’s just playing in his driveway back home. Jokic has been the best player in the NBA for the last three years, and I don’t see that changing this year with the early start we’ve seen from him thus far.

For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.