Denver Nuggets: Aaron Gordon deal locks in title contention for 2022-23

Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets dunks the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter during Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on 22 May 2021. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets dunks the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter during Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on 22 May 2021. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets have re-signed Aaron Gordon to a new deal that will see him signed through to the 2025-26 season. It’s a huge win for a team that’s hoping to seriously contend in the 2022-23 season, locking in their starting power forward.

The deal, reported by Shams Charania, The Athletic, includes a player option in the final year and comes after just 25 regular season games with the Nuggets.

Turning 26-years-old as I write this (happy birthday Aaron), the Nuggets will have Gordon under team control for the entirety of his prime and his seamless fit with this full-strength team is extremely promising for Denver fans moving forward.

While the second round of the playoffs exposed many weaknesses in this Nuggets offense, a lot could be put down to the absence of Jamal Murray.

Murray missing time meant Michael Porter Jr. became the second option on offense, a role he was more than comfortable in. Following Murray’s ACL injury, MPJ averaged 22.8 points a night while hitting 55 percent from the floor, 45 percent from 3-point range, and 86 percent from the free throw line. He took on the role as the second option behind Nikola Jokic and excelled.

But Porter Jr.’s ascendence meant everyone else had to pick up the scoring slack behind him and it was too much for the role players.

When at full strength and everyone back in their natural spot in the pecking order, role players like AG can go back to finishing plays, catching lobs, and making smart cuts around Nikola Jokic.

While benefitting off the creation of others on that end, he’ll be the primary defender on big wings on defense, making for an elite tandem with the newly-signed Jeff Green.

With the Aaron Gordon extension, Tim Connelly has finally assembled a title contending team. Only MPJ is left unsigned in Murray’s full strength season but coming off a rookie contract, the absolute worst-case scenario is that he picks up his qualifying offer for 22-23.

Both MPJ and his representation are happy with where extension talks are right now.

With Aaron Gordon in the fold, here’s why the Denver Nuggets are title contenders in 2022-23

Tim Connelly has made it clear since taking over as the lead decision maker with the Denver Nuggets front office that he doesn’t want to skip steps. He made it clear that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes so many front offices have in the past and trade for present value, giving up on the future.

His front office has drafted well, they’ve found value at the top of the draft and at the bottom, while also forming one of the strongest benches in the league.

At the moment, the Denver Nuggets have one of the more successful young cores in the entire league. Jokic is only 26-years-old, Jamal is 24, MPJ is 23, and the aforementioned AG is only 25.

This core has half a decade of prime production ahead of them, if not more.

The Denver Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals in the 2019-20 season (the bubble season) and entered 2020-21 stronger than the previous. Nikola Jokic grew into a league MVP, Jamal took another step forward, ditto for Porter Jr., and the mid-season deal for Aaron Goron gave them a play finisher and primary defender.

Assuming Jamal returns a full calendar year after his injury, he will likely be returning right in time for the playoffs, a gargantuan ask for a player who wouldn’t have played any professional basketball a year prior.

If Murray focuses on the year following, he’ll have more than a year of healing under his belt and he’ll be able to ramp up into full strength across an 82-game season.

That’s what makes the Gordon extension so important, he was the only question mark about a 2022-23 title pursuit. His contract expired after the upcoming season and could’ve left in free agency, leaving Denver with no real avenue to replace him.

Since taking over the role in 2013, Connelly has found his stars in Jokic, Murray, and Porter. He has then surrounded them with ideal role players and now if all he does is sit on his hands from here, this team will walk into the discussion for an NBA championship.

What could be the Denver Nuggets first ever NBA championship.