The Denver Nuggets are 3-0, with a combined point differential of +49. All of these wins came against three Western Conference teams expected to make the playoffs at the end of the season. Two of them came away from home, and every single one of the games was even more one-sided than the final score indicated.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of it all, however, is the fact that the Nuggets are doing this while playing in second gear. They didn’t have to push hard or rely on unsustainable individual performances whatsoever.
The scary thought for the rest of the NBA is that Denver has another gear or two that they can hit. The Nuggets basically picked up where they left off in the NBA Finals four months ago, put it on cruise control, and are still racking up wins with ease.
Nikola Jokic is still dominating his opponents, even though he played against elite defenders like Anthony Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Chet Holmgren in his first three games. He is doing this while also clearly not being in his peak form.
His touch in his passes and around the basket are not at the level we have grown accustomed to as he already committed 15 turnovers in three games. There were too many basic errors and miscommunications offensively. But at no point in the first week of the regular season did anyone doubt that Jokic is still the best player in the NBA.
And perhaps for the first time in the Jokic era, it looks like the Nuggets might survive the minutes when their two-time MVP is off the floor. The bench units are still not excellent, but they also look much better than last season. In 58 possessions with Jokic off the floor, the Nuggets have only been outscored by 2.0 points per 100 possessions. This number was 11.6 last season.
If this holds and the Nuggets don’t bleed points when Jokic is sitting, they should continue rolling, because no team in the NBA can keep up with this starting five.
This sort of performance to begin the season bodes well for the rest of the regular season. The Denver Nuggets have never won 60 games since they moved to the NBA in the 1976-77 season. This year might be their best chance to do so.
If another team in the West pushes the Denver Nuggets for the No. 1 seed in the conference, a 60-win season could easily be in the cards. Otherwise, Denver might rightfully give their players rest as the season progresses to the end as they did last season. However, this team might be good enough to break the franchise record of 57 wins even if they take their foot off of the gas.
With an already blistering hot start to this season, the Nuggets look to have the best chance to have their best regular season team in franchise history, but we’ve still got a lot more games ahead until we can determine that.