Denver Nuggets: Why Zeke Nnaji is an important rotation piece

For the first two seasons of his NBA career, Zeke Nnaji was a player that sparingly played off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. In those moments, Nnaji was able to flash what he could eventually become and it appears that he will actualize that potential this season.

Being a young player on a team with championship aspirations sometimes come with lack of playing time, but after the departure of DeMarcus Cousins and lack of quality options behind Nikola Jokic, Nnaji is primed for a heavy minute load.

The only big man that the Nuggets added who may be a part of the rotation is DeAndre Jordan, the veteran journeyman. Given DJ’s struggles in the past few seasons, it’s likely that Zeke Nnaji will be called upon as the backup five this season.

With his shooting ability, Nnaji is a player that can even come in the game and play alongside Jokic while also be his primary backup. If Michael Malone wants to add more shooting around his ball-dominant scorers, Nnaji will be very useful.

While in only a small sample size, Nnaji is someone that people should keep an eye on. He is a stretch big that can shoot the ball well and can play in most lineups the team use. This past season, he shot an eye-popping 46 percent from three and has a career percentage of 44 percent from behind the arc.

Three-point shooting is one of the most important parts of today’s NBA, and having Nnaji be able to come in and shoot that well will make him a fan favorite fairly quickly. Out of all his 3-pointers this past season, 43 percent of them we’re in catch-and-shoot situations according to NBA.com’s tracking data.

He will take a lot of pressure off of the team’s big three and could find himself in the game in crunch time when the team needs a good shot.

The Denver Nuggets knew what they taking when they drafted Zeke 22nd overall in the 2020 draft and he is one of the biggest wildcards the team has on the roster. Even if he doesn’t shoot a blistering 46 percent from 3-point range this season, which he probably won’t when taking them at a larger volume, he will still be important to a team that has multiple playmakers looking for the best shot they can find when they are on the floor together.

When it comes to the playoffs and Malone’s rotations tighten up, it’s unsure what role Nnaji will have but if he can prove he’s an effective 3-point shooting throughout the regular season, he could prove useful as a four-five off the bench for a title-contending team.