The Denver Nuggets remain in the thick of the title race. The regular season is half over, and the defending champions won 28 of their first 41 games. Denver is third in the Western Conference, but just one game back of first. They believe they can repeat and are among the favorites to win it all.
The West is crowded, and Denver should explore every avenue to maximize their roster. Several Nuggets could be on the trade block. They have the best player in the world in his prime, and their front office should do whatever possible to improve their championship odds.
With the regular season half over, it is the perfect time to take a stock watch. Which players are performing better than expected and who is struggling? Here is a look at the Nuggets in each case.
Exceeding expectations: Peyton Watson
The 2022 first-round draft pick barely played as a rookie, but the departures of Bruce Brown and Jeff Green in free agency made him a needed part of the rotation. The Nuggets believed in him, but nobody knew what to expect after he appeared in just 23 games last regular season and was limited to mop-up duty during their championship run.
Watson has appeared in 39 of the first 41 games and has been outstanding. The 21-year-old is averaging 6.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 17.6 minutes per contest while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 35.1 percent on his 3-point tries.
He has produced 0.099 win shares per 48 minutes, which rates just below the league average mark of 0.100. Getting average production from a 21-year-old in his first consistent role has been crucial to the defending champions' second unit, and the best is still yet to come from Peyton Watson.
The 6’8 wing is not the only player standing out in the Nuggets' second unit over the first half of the regular season.