The Denver Nuggets big three includes Aaron Gordon, not Michael Porter Jr.

Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles the ball in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on 30 Mar. 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles the ball in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on 30 Mar. 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Similar to a scene from Mean Girls, there is a metaphorical table at the Denver Nuggets‘ lunchroom that carries a little more weight and stands out as a higher class than the rest of the surrounding tables. Only three players can sit at the table, and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic gets to be the one saying “you can’t sit with us”.

The three hypothetical seats are designed for only the greatest performers currently on the Nuggets roster and the three players currently putting the Nuggets in the best position to win a championship.

An argument can be made at the moment that despite Michael Porter Jr.‘s max contract in the offseason, he must give up his seat at the cool table for 2021 trade acquisition Aaron Gordon.

Jokic’s chair is cemented in the ground with his recent performance, and now the bells and whistles are being added to The Joker’s throne as he takes his place as king of the Nuggets.

Alongside Jokic, Jamal Murray is hanging on to his seat as the incumbent as he heals from ACL surgery. Denver Nuggets fans are hoping next year when the Blue Arrow returns that pressure will be taken off Aaron Gordon on the offensive end.

The addition of Bones Hyland has been splendid for Denver, and should only relieve the pressure even more for AG as he looks to score and continue to fly high in the Mile High. We all hope MPJ comes back at full strength, and Porter Jr. has proven he can be a difference-maker when fully healthy. If not, however, we have another blossoming lotus to play the role in Gordon.

Despite the max deal for MPJ, AG got paid as well, meaning that Gordon isn’t going anywhere. Murray is under contract, Jokic is defying the odds and reinventing the center position, and Denver’s head coach Michael Malone is now in place for the foreseeable future with a new contract. When at full strength, the Denver Nuggets title window is well and truly open.

You can tell the phenom out of Arizona is getting so comfortable playing alongside the MVP from Serbia. Gordon loves the up-tempo style and the surprise factor Denver’s offense brings. Watching AG and Joker looks like poetry in motion at times. Aaron Gordon’s extensive list of abilities while gliding through the air offers up a bevy of options for Denver’s slick attack.

The two-man tandem of Jokic and AG has played the most out of all Denver Nuggets duos this season and in just under 2,000 minutes, the pair have a net +9.1 points per 100 possessions using Basketball-Reference’s lineup data.

Because he’s paired mostly with Jokic and because he’s having a career year, Gordon is a huge positive when on the court. The Nuggets are scoring 11.4 points per 100 when he’s on the court, a figure in the 98th percentile according to Cleaning the Glass.

Now imagine what Gordon could do with the benefits he will reap due to Jokic and a healthy Murray stealing defensive attention away from him. We saw a lineup that included all three playmakers absolutely dominate for a stretch last season, going 12-2 before the Blue Arrow’s untimely injury.

AG has been making highlight plays for the Nuggets and staying healthy since he joined the team. Gordon’s progress has been critical in Jokic’s elevation into the clouds as one of the best basketball players around, and don’t look now but Gordon has put together back-to-back 24-point performances against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers.

Everyone expected Michael Porter Jr. to be the one stepping up alongside Jokic, but so far it has been Gordon, and that’s got to be exciting for Nuggets fans that are looking down the road a little bit. Fingers are crossed that the stars can align for Denver and all their stars can be healthy for a championship run, but in the meantime it’s been encouraging to see Gordon take MPJ’s place for now among the Nuggets’ top three performers.

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