5 Nuggets who could get axed from Michael Malone's playoff rotation

These Nuggets may not stick in the team’s playoff rotation.
Denver Nuggets, Michael Malone
Denver Nuggets, Michael Malone / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Nuggets have their sights set on defending their championship. Nikola Jokic is in line to win his third MVP honor, and Denver blitzed through the postseason in 2023. The Nuggets should be favored until they get eliminated. They have the best player in the world and plenty of talent around him to repeat. Their goal is to win it all, but it is always difficult.

The Western Conference is loaded with talent and there are zero easy matchups. Denver could face the Lakers, Warriors, or Suns in the first round of the playoffs. There will be no easy road and winning the conference clinches a date against a team with two stars from the Eastern Conference. It is always more difficult to repeat, and the pressure will be on the Nuggets throughout the postseason.

Head coach Michael Malone trimmed his rotation to seven or eight players during the 2023 playoffs. Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Michael Porter Jr. are locked in as their starting five, but who does he trust off the bench with Bruce Brown and Jeff Green gone? All of these players are at risk of being cut from the Nuggets postseason rotation.

5. Zeke Nnaji

Nanji has missed five straight games with a back injury, but he appeared in 16 consecutive before going down. The 23-year-old also begins a four-year $32 million extension next season. The Nuggets want him to be a long-term piece, but backup center minutes will be non-existent in the playoffs.

Nikola Jokic played 39.5 minutes per game during Denver’s 2023 playoff run and a handful of blowout victories dropped the average. The Joker will have a massive workload. When he needs a rest, the Nuggets will likely go small with Aaron Gordon at the five. It is easier to match up with the opposition and creates more switching opportunities for the Nuggets.

Zeke Nnaji played in just four of their 20 playoff contests in 2023. He likely sees a bit more run this time, but fans should not expect him to be part of the nightly rotation. The Denver Nuggets will likely go small, but that creates more difficult decisions for coach Malone.