We are at the halfway point during the NBA season the Denver Nuggets for now have a comfortable lead on the rest of the Western Conference as the Nuggets sit at the top of the West. It is very realistic to think that Denver can beat their franchise record of 57 wins set back in the 2012-13 season. Of course, it won’t be an easy task for the Nuggets to continue to be the number one seed in the West considering other moves made at the deadline. After some solid additions to Denver’s bench, the Nuggets look like they are setting themselves up nicely for a great second half of the season, as well as a very deep playoff run.
When it comes to any NBA team winning a championship it all comes down to, yes, talent, but also consistent time on the floor together. The Nuggets have had some bumps and bruises throughout this NBA season. What team hasn’t? The difference is that Denver has had their core on the floor together for most of the season. Denver’s starters are 7th in the NBA in minutes played together, according to NBA.com.
Other teams like the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers made their rosters better at the trade deadline. With only 20 or so games left in the season before the playoffs start, teams like the Lakers and the Suns need consistent play from their starters. Both teams made big moves to their starting five. Not only does Denver have the talent, but the Nuggets will have more games played together over those other contending teams in the West who made big trades.
Deepest Team in the West
There are some deep teams in the West, and Denver is one of those teams. After the trade deadline the Nuggets were able to add guard Reggie Jackson and center Thomas Bryant which helped make their bench even stronger. We know Denver’s starting lineup can do great things, but having a deep bench that they can go to in the playoffs is a great addition to this team. A deep bench isn’t just important to have in the playoffs, it can also be useful in the regular season as well.
This season, the Nuggets have rested starters the whole reason, and the reason they are able to do that is because of the bench. An example of this is if Aaron Gordon needs a night off, then Vlatko Cancar can be used in the starting lineup. Denver has a lot of different ways that they can mix and match different lineups. A lot of credit should be given to Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth for making this team’s bench as deep as he has. The bench hasn’t figured it out quite yet, but they have the potential to help in sticky situations.
One of the Most Balanced Teams
In order to have championship expectations you have to have a well balanced team. It is great to have star offensive players to build around like Nikola Jokic, but it is also important to have players who can do other things as well. It is important to have well established defensive players around your star players.
Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Nikola Jokic are a very good core to have. Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are two of the better defenders in the NBA. Not only can Caldwell-Pope and Gordon play defense they can also score too when they need to. When Denver acquired Gordon and Caldwell-Pope they showed how serious they were about winning.
The Nuggets have never finished at the top of the West in their franchise’s history. During the Jokic era, Denver has always been a top offensive team in the NBA, but they have struggled defensively. This season, however, Denver has taken a major step in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball. The Nuggets defense has went from being one of the worst to start the season to being an almost top 10 defense. Denver’s defense certainly has that potential to be a top defensive squad.
There are other teams in the West that can compete with the Nuggets. It won’t be an easy task for Denver to come out of the West and make their first ever appearance in the NBA finals. The Nuggets have arguably the best shot they have ever had. The Nuggets’ time to win is now, thanks to the personnel the team has in place. We shall see how the rest of the West shakes out, but for now, Nuggets fans should feel great about this teams chances at a long playoff run.