The Denver Nuggets are gearing up for a monumental 2022-23 campaign. With both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. set to return to action alongside the reigning MVP of the league, Nikola Jokic. The franchise appears primed to go on a run and reclaim its spot as one of the best teams in the NBA.
Although, with media day and the start of training camp just around the corner, there’s still a lot to get sorted out before the season even begins. As a result, it’s only fitting that we kick off a new NBA season with some player rankings and predictions, which ESPN has put together with its NBArank of their top 100 players for 2022.
While most casual fans might be clamoring to find out where MVP candidates like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and Joel Embiid rank. Denver Nuggets fans are eager to see where their top stars fall in the pecking order.
ESPN NBArank 2022: Which Denver Nuggets landed in the top 100?
No. 83 – Aaron Gordon
The first Denver Nuggets player to crack ESPN’s top 100 list is Aaron Gordon. With the former 4th overall pick in 2014 coming off yet another solid statistical season from a year ago. Averaging 15 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game shooting better than 52 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line, both of which are career highs.
In 2021, Gordon was ranked at No. 69 but sees his rating drop a touch due to the surrounding question marks within the Denver Nuggets rotation. Kendra Andrews highlighted this further, writing:
"“What is Gordon’s role? With the returns of Murray and Porter, and the addition of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gordon’s role is going to shift for the Nuggets, likely into a much smaller one. Gordon won’t need to score as much, and with the addition of KCP, he will no longer be the primary on-ball defender. Because of Gordon’s size, he still has the opportunity to be an impactful defensive player, but his night-to-night job will depend more on the matchup.”"
No. 72 – Michael Porter Jr.
The next Denver Nuggets player ranked on ESPN’s top 100 for 2022 is Michael Porter Jr. Who stepped up as a reliable second option for Denver during the 2020-21 season, averaging more than 19 points and 7 rebounds per game to go along with impressive .542/.445/.791 shooting splits.
Unfortunately, Porter saw his highly-anticipated 2021-22 campaign come to a devastating end just nine games into the season. After re-aggravating the back injury that’s been giving him trouble since the start of his young career.
Now, after having to undergo the third back surgery of his career at just 24 years old, there’s arguably no player in the NBA that faces more uncertainty going into next season. Something that Kendra Andrews explained as the reason for Porter’s drop in ranking, as he held the No. 41 spot just a year ago:
"“Porter has yet to play a complete NBA campaign — missing long chunks, if not the entire season, due to injuries. Last season, he was sidelined with the third back surgery of his basketball career. So the question for Porter is twofold: What will he look like after missing another season? And, perhaps more importantly, can he stay healthy this time around as the Nuggets look to make noise in a loaded West?“"
No. 50 – Jamal Murray
The final Denver Nuggets player to have been ranked in ESPN’s top 100 is Jamal Murray. Who was unranked last year as he was still recovering from his brutal ACL tear in April 2021, but now clinches a spot right dead smack in the middle of the rankings.
The last time Jamal Murray played in a full-length NBA game was April 11, 2021, so, it’s easy to be skeptical about his return to prominence. That being said, he was also averaging a career-high 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game in over 35 minutes of action a night at the time. Which was right in line with many All-Star and All-NBA recipients from that year.
The fact that Murray was playing his best ball when we last saw him gives reason for optimism, let alone all of the work he’s put in to get back to full strength up to this point. He was one of the better young combo guards in the league in 2021 and now he’s expected to make a full recovery and resume his role as the Robin to Jokic’s Batman.
Although being that we haven’t seen Jamal Murray on an NBA court in 527 days, Kendra Andrews highlighted one game, in particular, Nuggets fans should keep their eyes on in 2022:
"“Oct. 19 at Utah. Denver’s season opener will be the first time Jamal Murray has played an NBA game in about a year and a half after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. As with any player returning from a significant injury, it’s nearly impossible that this game will give a complete and accurate assessment of Murray’s recovery, but it will give the first look at him after a long journey and what coach Michael Malone called a “mental hurdle” that he struggled to overcome toward the end of last season.”"
Currently, only Nos. 100-26 have been announced, with the top 25 set to be revealed in the coming days. So, fret not Nuggets fans, as we should expect to see Nikola Jokic’s name called by the end of the week.