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.

At the beginning of last month, the Denver Nuggets looked like one of the most unstoppable teams in the NBA. They were 6-1 with Jamal Murray in the lineup, and they had even ripped off two more wins after he had gone out, including an 18-point drubbing of a surging New Orleans Pelicans team. Then, came a stretch that lasted a little over two weeks where Denver was dropping games left and right, and frustrations were mounting both internally and externally. 

Let’s take a closer look at that stretch just to see how high the panic meter should have been going. In the 11-game span that Murray missed, the Nuggets played seven road games, including a five-game road trip to the east coast. In that span, they played two back-to-backs, including a back-to-back on the road. Throw in injuries to Aaron Gordon and inconsistent play from younger guys, and you’re going to struggle in those scenarios. However, that’s not a reason to panic.

Last season, at the end of November, the Nuggets were 14-7. This year, they’re 13-6 with all six of their losses coming on the road, including four of them on their five-game road trip. The Nuggets have another four-game road trip that begins in a little over a week. Between some starters being banged up while the team tries to figure out their rotations following the departures of Jeff Green and Bruce Brown, maybe the sky isn’t falling around this team quite yet. 

A Developing Youngster

Last year, we saw flashes from Christian Braun as a rookie that told us there might be something special there. Despite the loss of Brown, the Nuggets felt confident enough in Braun that he could step in and fill that role for them. So far, that’s looking like a good call on their part. This play against the Detroit Pistons typifies exactly that. The Nuggets have lost Michael Malone and Nikola Jokic in the first half to ejections, but they’re still scrapping. Braun is lurking in the corner guarding his man. When he sees the roll man heading towards the basket, he puts himself in a position to make a play on the ball. He comes away with the steal, and he drives the length of the floor and converts the bucket. 

This is the other play that really shows the ways in which Braun can replace Bruce this year and beyond. Bruce gave the Nuggets a consistent ball handler with the second unit that could play alongside Jokic, Murray or as the leading man on that unit. Braun still has some room to develop in that arena, but you can see the switches flipping on. Here, Braun is on the floor with three other starters and DeAndre Jordan. He is the secondary ball-handler alongside Reggie Jackson, but they have Christian initiating the offense. He dribbles towards the lane, and, when he feels the second defender coming over, he elevates over the defense to fire a perfect pass to Jackson in the corner for the easy triple. Braun still has room to grow and develop, and there will be growing pains with him. However, come April, May and June, this kid can really be something.

You’re Hitting Shots

Over the past few seasons, the Nuggets have had a common theme in their losses. They’ve shot terribly while their opponents have shot the lights out. This season, we’re seeing the latter point remain true, but the Nuggets are also scoring very efficiently. Against the Orlando Magic, the Nuggets shot 42.9 percent from 3-point range. Their problem was that the Magic just couldn’t miss inside the arc. Orlando shot 34.5 percent from downtown, but they were 54.3 percent from the field. Teams aren’t going to shoot that well inside the arc on most nights. Denver’s offense is keeping them in games, and that’s the key to them staying in games. On this play, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is rising up for a triple with Goga Bitadze closing out on him. Adding Murray back into a mix of shot makers like Michael Porter Jr., Jokic and KCP just makes this offense so lethal.

In MPJ’s young career, he has hit five or more 3-pointers in a game 33 times in the regular season or playoffs. The Nuggets are 23-10 in those games. Of those 10 losses, two of them are this season. The Nuggets have one of the league’s best shot makers on their team, and, even when he’s hitting, they’ve been losing games. This shot over Max Strus is just rude to Strus at the end of the day. He’s in great position and playing strong defense. MPJ just steps back and drills the contested shot over him. This team just needs some of those lucky bounces to start going their way, and they’re going to be just fine. Oh, you also have Nikola Jokic on the roster who remains arguably the league’s most unstoppable player on any given night. The sky isn’t falling, so maybe just relax and enjoy the show for now.

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.