Loser: Denver’s Frontcourt
As previously mentioned, the Denver Nuggets opted to sign DeAndre Jordan in favor of DeMarcus Cousins. Which was an interesting move, to say the least. However, they also traded to get back into the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, only to select French shotblocker, Ismael Kamagate. Who they’re projected to stash overseas next season, giving him time to develop into a legitimate NBA center.
This means that the Denver Nuggets have only Nikola Jokic, DeAndre Jordan, MPJ, Jeff Green and Zeke Nnaji signed to their roster for next season. Obviously, Aaron Gordon can slide down to play the four, and Nnaji could also handle some minutes at the five. But this is far from a complete frontcourt, in my opinion.
Michael Porter Jr. doesn’t possess the offensive or defensive skill set to consistently play the power forward position, and is widely viewed as more of a small forward anyway. While Gordon is probably the better option to play the four, but even still, his talents are better served along the perimeter than in the paint.
Similarly, Jeff Green is 6’8” and has never been known for his defensive prowess, while Zeke Nnaji is 6’9” and is considered more of a stretch-four than a reliable interior force. So, essentially, the Nuggets have two legitimate frontcourt players that are hovering around 7-feet; Nikola Jokic and DeAndre Jordan. The latter of which averaged less than five points and half a block per game last season.
With just two centers and three fringe power forwards, Michael Malone has limited rotations with this frontcourt. While it might be enough to work with, if any injuries were to take place (like last year), this team could be in quite the predicament.
What’s added to my skepticism surrounding this frontcourt is the fact that Denver had plenty of options both in the draft and free agency to shore up this side of the court. They could have targeted prospects like Walker Kessler or Christian Koloko in the draft, or any one of Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee and Andre Drummond in free agency. Yet, they decided not to.
I’m not necessarily saying that these would have been guaranteed signings but their depth in the front court right now is less than ideal. If there’s one area that the Denver Nuggets probably should’ve put more of an emphasis on, it’s with their frontcourt.