After a strong offseason and training camp, a source has confirmed to me that the Denver Nuggets have picked up the fourth year team option on Zeke Nnaji’s contract that will pay him just over $4.3 million next season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first on the report.

Nnaji showed up to training camp 10 pounds of muscle heavier than he was last season and improved as a player. As usual, his commitment to his craft was strong all summer long and now he is in line to complete for backup center minutes entering the season, but his value goes beyond soaking up minutes when back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is not on the floor. Nnaji is a fantastic defender on the perimeter for a big and his three-point shooting can bolster any five-man group. Nnaji could see time at backup power forward and center and maybe even some more time on the wing as a small forward as he did last season when playing with the reserves, but do not rule out the possibility of him being one of the first guys off the bench which would provide him with minutes alongside many of Denver’s starters.

Nnaji’s work behind the scenes is what earned him this vote of confidence from the Nuggets, but his efforts began to bear fruit last season before he lost much of the latter portion of the season due to injury. From the start of 2022 until the regular season came to a close, Nnaji played 20 games in which he averaged 7.1 points and four rebounds while shooting 58.4% from the field and 51.4% from three-point range in 18.5 minutes per game. Nnaji’s rebounding was much improved, he impact as a rim roller was heightened, and his defense continued to shine as brightly as his three-point shooting. By the time the 2021-22 season came to a close, Nnaji played 40 games and averaged 6.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and he shot a hair over 48% from the three-point line; all of which are strong marks considering his limited playing time.

This season, the Nuggets will expect more of Nnaji, but it seems he is up to the task. He has been one of the brightest aspects of training camp for the Nuggets thus far and might have done more for his resume than anyone else on the roster. Now, with the first preseason game just a couple hours away from the time of this writing, it is up to him to prove his growth and repay the Nuggets for their confidence in him.