Recapping the 2021-22 season for the Denver Nuggets: The best-case scenario for a team without two of its best players
Jamal Murray isn’t officially ruled out at the time of writing this but with two games remaining on the season and several players saying he’d be better waiting it out, it’s looking like he won’t suit up this season.
Michael Porter Jr. suffered a setback in his rehab from back surgery and while it’s not official, he’s probably not coming back in the playoffs. That leaves us with the roster that got Denver to the position they’re in right now. How far can they go?
If this were almost any other franchise in the league, there’s no way they could make the Play-In Tournament, let alone the playoffs. But here we are, with two games to go and Denver about to secure a playoff spot (I’m manifesting it).
It’s a credit to everything that the Nuggets organization does, focusing on young talent, developing players in-house, and, of course, building everything around the best player in the world right now – the Big Honey.
This season has proven that Jokic isn’t just the best center in the world right now, he might be the best player in the world right now. With boatloads of playoff success behind him, I’m sure there’s no team in the West that wants to face him in a seven-game series.
If you had asked someone at the start of the season, what the ceiling for this team without Jamal and Mike is, you’d probably have said Play-In. But Jokic has defied expectations, grown on his 2020-21 campaign, and they might even be favorites in the first round of the playoffs.
If he’s guarded by Kevon Looney and an injured Draymond Green, does he average 40 points in that series? Which big man for the Dallas Mavericks is stopping him? Maxi Kleber… And if Denver fall to the seventh seed, the Memphis Grizzlies are young and spritely, but can they stop Jokic?
The best-case scenario is probably winning in the first round. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but as the Denver Nuggets enter next season, they’ll be adding two young stars to a core that just made some noise in the playoffs, that’s scary.
And while Nikola deserves the MVP award this season, Denver might even be in the running for two. Lukas Petridis, co-host of The JVG NBA Tribute Show put it really well in his end-of-season awards recap: “[The Denver Nuggets] have two really good basketball people on this roster: Nikola Jokic and Michael Malone. And they’re about to win 50 games. At least one of them needs an award.”
This season was a gap year due to the injuries and in a gap year, they’re sniffing the 50-win mark. That’s incredible.