For the first time in the Nikola Jokic era, it looks as though the Denver Nuggets will have functional wing depth, just as they look to win their first-ever NBA championship.
Heading into the 2022 offseason, newly-instated GM Calvin Booth knew he had to address the issue of wing depth. Not only was it a pain on Denver’s side for recent playoff appearances, but wings are some of the scarcest commodities in the league.
This offseason, the Denver Nuggets traded for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the better 3-and-D players in the league when he’s clicking, signed Bruce Brown to a below-market deal, and re-signed Davon Reed.
On top of the additions, Denver still has Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon who are better suited to guarding bigger forwards but can slide up the positional spectrum if needed. And then there’s Christian Braun who was drafted at 21 by the Denver Nuggets, if he adds to the rotation at all, it’s found money.
These moves are exactly what the Denver Nuggets need to do, fill out the rotation with defensive-minded shooters and let the trio of Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray go to work. We know that the Jokic-Murray pick-and-roll is one of the more effective combinations in the league, just give them the ball, and spread the floor.
In the regular season, Michael Malone will be able to experiment with different combinations, figuring out who works best with his best players while in the playoffs, he can roll out the eight-man combinations that he prefers.
If Denver wants to move away from just defensive role players next to their stars, they’ll be able to mix Bones Hyland in with some starters and see if he can grow into the engine of an elite offense himself. There are some huge opportunities for Bones this season, especially if Murray rests for injury management
I was down on Denver’s offseason out of the gates, trading away a 2027 first-round pick to dump JaMychal Green’s salary, and using the asset of Monte Morris to trade for KCP seemed steep. However, the signing of Bruce Brown brings this all together.
Booth has crafted a team that bends around his best players and that’s the best possible move, not bringing in another superstar or trading away what we know works well.
If this season doesn’t go to plan, he’ll enter the following offseason with KCP’s deal coming off the books, Bruce Brown potentially hitting free agency (no word on a player/team option or non-guarantee yet), and Zeke Nnaji and Bones Hyland still on their rookie deals.
Murray, MPJ, and Jokic are locked up for the long term and it’s now about getting as far as possible in the playoffs for as many seasons as possible. Adding functional depth at the positions that matter the most goes a long way in getting this done.