Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs report card and player grades

Apr 7, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) reacts to his score in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) reacts to his score in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

In a competitive game between the rising Denver Nuggets and the scrappy San Antonio Spurs here are some player grades from the game. This was a real back and forth game early, but the Nuggets took over late in the game. They got a great bench performance late that was able to slam the door shut on the sliding Spurs. Here’s some analysis of the stand-out players from this game.

Denver Nuggets Player Grades

Nikola Jokic A+

With no Jamal Murray, Jokic was tasked with generating most of the offense. He did not fail, putting on another MVP-like performance. The Joker came away with another near triple-double, finishing with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists. Once again he had so many great plays setting up his teammates to be successful, it’s starting to sound like a broken record. He makes so many difficult passes look relatively routine on a nightly basis. He might have the best baseball-style pass in the NBA right now where he collects a rebound and quickly turns and throws it down the court with accuracy. His work along the offensive glass makes him an incredible force, his ability to tip the ball in off a miss is so incredible and consistent.

Nikola really destroyed the undersized Spurs down low, feasting on Jakob Poeltl and the young Keldon Johnson. Popovich was even forced to throw out Drew Eubanks and Gorgui Dieng at times to slow him down. He knew he could get whatever look he wanted at the rim, so it was interesting to watch him pick and choose his spots. His decision-making in every instance is what sets him apart, he sees plays develop ages before they happen much like how all the greats have done.

Michael Porter Junior B+

Porter had another strong all-around game finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He only shot one of three from behind the arc however was proficient in getting his buckets in the midrange and the paint. His fearlessness at attacking the rim really sets him apart. He is so good at using his length to his advantage. Porter also had a strong defensive game showing aggressive defense in transition and on the ball.

Porter has really blossomed with the addition of Gordon; it gives him another player to do the dirty work down low. Porter seems to be playing more relaxed and harder on both ends of the floor, knowing he and Gordon are interchangeable on offense and defense. They know that there will always be a mismatch somewhere, either on Gordon or on Porter.  With no real bruising force on the defensive side of the ball for the Spurs, it seemed Michael was confident enough to take anyone off the dribble and get into the paint.

Aaron Gordon C+

Gordon had somewhat of a disappointing night when watching the game as a whole, but it wasn’t all his fault. This is one where Mike Malone could have used him in a bigger scoring role, yet he was not used much. However, Mike did not get to call many shots after being ejected late in the second quarter. While Gordon is never asked to do too much on the offensive end, a night without Murray could have been the one to see him get integrated into the offense more.

It will be interesting going forward to see what kind of plays Malone could have designed for Gordon to get him free from midrange, beyond the arc, but most importantly in the dunker position. Gordon can score at all three levels, we will see how the Nuggets want to unlock more of his game down the stretch or if they simply use him as a vertical threat at the rim. Gordon finished with 9 points on fifty percent shooting, all dunks or layups in the paint.

Facundo Campazzo C-

Facundo got his second career start alongside Will Barton in the backcourt for the Nuggets and had an average game. He did have two great assists to Jamychal Green and Javale McGee that seemed to slam the door shut on the Spurs late in the game!

However, Campazzo only shot 28% on the night however his two shots he hit were three-pointers in which he was 2 of 5. He finished the game with six points and two assists, it could have something to do with the experience Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has with defending guards from overseas.

Campazzo impacts the games in other ways, but not being able to be a true threat to score the ball ultimately hurts the Nuggets and the players around him. We will see how it plays out down the stretch, but one could imagine it being difficult to give Campazzo tons of minutes come playoff time.

Will Barton B

Will the Thrill had a pretty bad shooting night, going 3 of 13 from the field. However, his ability to attack the rim and put pressure on the defense in the paint let him get to the free-throw line a bit which helped out his scoring totals. He finished the game with 14 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. The Nuggets could have used some more scoring from their remaining starting guard however he was able to get downhill and create for his teammates. Despite what the box score might say, Barton had a definite impact on this game.

Javale McGee A-

Javale had his coming back party to the Denver Nuggets this game. He was able to come in and give the team a much-needed spark late in the game. Javale played almost fourteen minutes and racked up 8 rebounds and 9 points. He was able to come up with some big second chance points late in the third and early in the fourth that really seemed to deflate the Spurs. He really has developed a lot since his last stint in Denver, you can tell he has worked on how he screens defenders and rolls with a purpose now. He is still the same lob threat he has been his entire career with his crazy long frame, and it is clear he has learned a lot from his time with LeBron James and Anthony Davis most recently.

Spurs Shoutout: Dejounte Murray

Watching Dejounte come into his own has been fun to watch. I personally got a chance to watch his development with the Austin Spurs back after he tore his ACL. He has always had the ability to control the tempo from such a young age. He has such fluidity to his game; he gets down the court and into the teeth of the defense with ease it is no wonder why Popovich has been working to make him the lead guard in San Antonio. Murray did not have an outstanding night tonight however he always seems to be making the right plays and ends up coming up with great stat lines. Look for Dejounte to make even another leap as a scorer sooner rather than later and especially if they decide to move on from Derozan and focus their attention on developing him.

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