Last night, the Denver Nuggets hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder in their preseason home opener to tip-off the 2022-23 campaign. While the night ended in a tough 112-101 loss, there were still plenty of positive takeaways from the game as a whole.
Not only did we finally get to see Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. all on the same court together for the first time since April 2021, but other lesser-known names showed out as well. DeAndre Jordan was active and efficient, Bones Hyland was fearless (as usual) and Jeff Green looked ten years younger.
With all that and more, here were the three biggest takeaways from the Denver Nuggets’ preseason home opener.
Takeaways from Oct. 3 loss vs. Thunder: Denver missed MPJ’s scoring ability
Michael Porter Jr. has faced a ton of criticism and skepticism dating back to his days at Missouri. On the one hand, his sheer potential as a 6’10” do-it-all forward shooting a career 42 percent from deep and 52 percent from the field is simply mesmerizing. On the other hand, he’s been dealing with back injuries since his freshman year of college and has yet to play a full NBA season.
Nevertheless, his performance last night was a reminder of just how much he means to this team.
Despite finishing the game with just 12 points, Porter made the most of his opportunities finishing 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range, all in just 14 minutes of action. In his highly-anticipated return to the court, MPJ proved that he hasn’t lost a step and appears primed for a revenge tour in 2022-23.
Obviously, it’s hard to get too excited about a preseason contest, and Porter’s first game back in almost a full calendar year at that. However, the game illustrated to me just how much the Denver Nuggets missed having the fourth-year sniper on the floor.
With Jamal Murray operating in isolation or the pick-and-roll game and Nikola Jokic setting up teammates with no-look dimes, everybody knows that the Nuggets’ offense is going to run through these two in 2022-23. That being said, when Jokic gets doubled or mismatches take Murray out of the game, Michael Porter Jr. is going to be the player relied on to get a bucket.
The further we progress through the regular season, and the closer we get to the playoffs, wins will be hard to come by. There’s also a good chance that Murray takes more time to get his rhythm back and Jokic takes a step back in scoring as a result of having to relearn to play with two other offensive focal points.
The clear elephant in the room is whether or not Michael Porter Jr. can stay healthy, which is the only thing that’s really held him back from becoming an All-NBA-type talent. Although, assuming he can stay on the floor, having MPJ as a security blanket for when points become scarce is going to be vital for this team down the stretch.