The Denver Nuggets had one of the best benches in the NBA last season, as the trio of Bruce Brown, Christian Braun, and Jeff Green were all Denver needed for a bench unit in the playoffs to be able to win their first NBA title in franchise history.
Now, both Bruce Brown and Jeff Green are on new teams, as Brown signed with Indiana, while Green signed with Houston. Christian Braun is the only one from the main bench unit left on the Nuggets’ roster.
The Denver Nuggets did do a great job in trying to fill the hole that Brown and Green left, as they drafted Julian Strawther, Hunter Tyson, and Jalen Pickett in the most recent NBA Draft. As for Denvers’ free agency, they re-signed Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Jordan, while also signing Justin Holiday.
The starting lineup is practically perfect, as there is a great blend of offense and defense throughout the starting five. The bench will need some fine-tuning, but that will be worked on throughout the season.
Are Christian Braun or Reggie Jackson the sixth man candidates to beat?
Looking at Christian Braun specifically, he played really well last year. He only averaged 4.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game, but that was only in 15.5 minutes per game. He was never really asked to take a lot of shots. The most shot attempts Braun had in a game last year was 11 three times.
His defense, though, was really impressive, especially in the playoffs. He had to face against both Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Jimmy Butler all throughout the playoffs, which is no easy task. After one season, Braun looks to be a home-run selection from the 2022 NBA Draft.
Reggie Jackson is a great player and definitely could be given the sixth man role. He’s had that role multiple times in his 12-year NBA career. For Denver, he struggled with efficiency with the team in his 16 regular season games. He averaged 7.9 points and 3.1 assists, but shot 38.3 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from the 3-point line.
Other potential standout Nuggets sixth men
Julian Strawther is a great player in his own right, but may be a bit inexperienced to be a regular member of Denver’s rotation. He’s only a rookie, but he is 21 years old, so he’s more experienced than a lot of incoming rookies.
Assuming the team is all healthy, the starting lineup will be the exact same as it was last season. Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokić rounding out the starting five. If an injury does occur, one of the few players mentioned earlier could definitely slide in to take someone else’s place.
Last season, Bones Hyland was a regular member of the Nuggets’ bench unit. Denver decided it would be best for both parties if he was on another team, so they shipped him to the Los Angeles Clippers two second round picks, which was not a great haul considering he was All-Rookie 2nd Team the year prior.
Last year, Denver’s points per game coming from bench players ranked 19th in points per game, which is fine, but if the Nuggets want to continue to win championships, more help has to come off the bench.
If Denver were to have to make a choice right now for who the sixth man should be, it most likely would be Christian Braun. He’s a great defender for his size and frame, and is a great glue guy. He probably won’t be able to fill Bruce Brown’s shoes fully, but we should see some development in his game, and definitely an increase in minutes.
Don’t expect Christian Braun to win the Sixth Man of the Year award next season, but either way, he still should be a great player for the Denver Nuggets.