The Denver Nuggets enter the 2022 NBA offseason as a team with a few extremely important objectives and very little flexibility.
The enormous elephant in the room is that the Nuggets need to stay healthy. Although, even at full strength, the team struggled immensely in one particular area of the floor, defense.
While it’s easy to point to Denver’s transition defense as the primary issue. Since the team allowed an abysmal 20.0 points per game off turnovers in the playoffs, and 17.3 during the regular season. Which was the fifth-most in the entire NBA.
The team remains one of the overall worst defensive teams in basketball. In fact, if it wasn’t for the heroics of Nikola Jokic this season, chances are we’d be talking about which lottery pick the Nuggets should target in the 2022 NBA Draft.
During the regular season, Denver finished 29th in the NBA in blocks per game (3.7), 29th in opposing rim field-goal percentage (66.2), and 15th in defensive rating (111.5). They also ranked dead-last in defensive efficiency throughout the playoffs (121.9).
Which is a stark contrast compared to their eighth-ranked offense (113.9). With the Nuggets ranking in the top ten in points per game (112.7), team field goal percentage (48.3), and team free-throw percentage (79.5) by the end of the regular season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo… Anthony Davis… Kawhi Leonard… Draymond Green… LeBron James. Basically, every team that’s won an NBA championship in the last decade had (at least) one All-Defense calibre player. The Denver Nuggets have zero.
So, this should certainly be the Nuggets’ primary focus this offseason.
Solution – sign Robert Covington
Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon are all sound defenders, but past that there isn’t much left in terms of depth. The Nuggets might bring back Austin Rivers, who (along with Gordon) is one of the team’s better perimeter defenders.
Although, adding a player like Robert Covington who has a proven track record as one of the better defenders in the association, could prove to be tremendously beneficial for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, Covington can slide in immediately and match up with any opposing team’s best wing player. Even on the offensive end, he would provide the necessary spacing to allow Jokic and Murray to flourish in the open court.
Above all else, the Denver Nuggets could probably snag Covington on a mid-level exception. Spending next to nothing to sign an impactful defender that could start alongside Jokic, Murray, and Porter Jr. Or provide valuable minutes off the bench.