Previewing the 2022-23 Denver Nuggets
September 26th, 2022
By Alan Lu
Denver Nuggets’ superstar center, Nikola Jokic had a tremendous individual season last year, and he became the first player ever to reach 2000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a single season. Though the Nuggets were hit hard by injuries last year to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., they were still able to win 48 games in the regular season and a trip to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they ran into the Golden State Warriors in the first round, and as they were shorthanded, Denver lost to them in 5 games.
This year, they maneuvered their roster around by trading Will Barton and Monte Morris to get Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, they added Christian Braun and Peyton Watson in the draft, and they also signed defensive stalwart Bruce Brown in the offseason. They may not have seemed to make any show-stopping moves, but with Murray and Porter coming back to help Jokic and Aaron Gordon, the Nuggets will surely make the playoffs once again barring injuries.
Nikola Jokić is a vastly skilled point center that has tremendous court vision, and he is a gifted offensive player that is a very good scorer out of the low post. He is a tremendous, pinpoint passer that will rack up assists, and he is someone that can routinely make exciting passes that will help his teammates score on offense. He’s not a super mobile big man, but he is a passable defender that will use positioning to help his team on that end of the floor. He is a superstar that has won back-to-back MVPs, and he is one of the best players in the game today.
Jamal Murray was absolutely tremendous in the Orlando bubble, he was instrumental in leading his team to come back down from 3-1 to rally all the way back to defeat Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the 2020 NBA playoffs to help get the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, which truly shocked the basketball world. He is a very agile, skilled scoring point guard that can score from anywhere on the floor when healthy. He’s been plagued with injuries in the past two years, but he is a gifted point guard that is an All-Star caliber player if he can return to top form.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, Ish Smith, DeAndre Jordan, Christian Braun, and Peyton Watson
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is an experienced, 3 and D wing that was a starter on the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers’ championship team, so his skill set and experience should come in handy for the Nuggets, especially come playoff time. Bruce Brown is a versatile swingman that has solid playmaking and defensive skills, and he operates fairly well as a player on short rolls to the rim.
The others may not be expected to contribute nearly as much, but Ish Smith will be a game managing, backup point guard, and DeAndre Jordan will provide some minutes as a backup center option on the floor. Christian Braun is a 3 and D wing that has won at the collegiate level, and he could learn plenty from Caldwell-Pope to be able to fill that role well in the NBA. Peyton Watson is a very athletic forward that struggled in limited playing time at UCLA and he really needs to improve his jump shot, but he is a rangy defender whose energy, defensive versatility and upside could make him a player to keep tabs on in the future.
Will Barton, Monte Morris, JaMychal Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Facundo Campazzo, Bryn Forbes, and Austin Rivers
The Nuggets wheeled and dealt players that sent some of their former players to other teams, and they also lost others due to free agency. They lost an athletic, 3 and D wing in Will Barton, and Monte Morris was a reliable, steady point guard that could start or come off the bench.
JaMychal Green had a down season, so it’s understandable that they would trade him, but when he played well, he proved to be a versatile, athletic big man that could stretch the floor and defend. Facundo Campazzo also had a down season, but is a game managing point guard that can spot up and defend. Bryn Forbes and Austin Rivers are scoring combo guards that can shoot the basketball.
Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Collin Gillespie, and Jack White
The rookies are entering a crowded roster, so playing time may be hard to come by. It may be unlikely that they’ll play right away. Braun and Jack White’s shooting abilities could enable them to get some run, and Collin Gillespie could earn some minutes as a backup point guard. If the Nuggets elect to go with the upside play, they could elect to try out Watson to help them defensively, but they may have to simplify his role on offense considerably to get the most out of him in the short term.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Key Bench Players:
G-F Bruce Brown
The Rest of the Roster (projected to make the team):
G-F Davon Reed
F Jack White (Two-Way)
G-F Peyton Watson
G Collin Gillespie (Two-Way)
Others in Camp:
G-F Adonis Arms (Exhibit 10)
G-F Kellan Grady (Exhibit 10)
F-C Grant Golden (Exhibit 10)
Michael Malone (2.5 stars)
2021-22 (DEN): 48-34, 1-4 in the playoffs
Career: 353-308, 21-27 in the NBA Playoffs
Michael Malone is a veteran coach that helped get the Denver Nuggets to the 2020 Western Conference Finals, after they rallied back to surprisingly defeat Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers in the second round that year. Since then, the Nuggets have been able to get to the playoffs, but they’ve had trouble making it as far since, as they’ve dealt with injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., but with his team returning to full strength, there’s hope that they can make a deep playoff run in 2023.
The Denver Nuggets will have a good shot to make a deep playoff run as long as they have Nikola Jokic, a super skilled point center that is one of the best players in the game right now. They also boast having a very athletic, rangy defender that can provide some scoring in Aaron Gordon, as well as a solid group of shooters in Caldwell-Pop, Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji, and Jeff Green. They also added Bruce Brown to help their defense.
On the other hand, it’s uncertain as to how well Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will come back from their injuries. Both have played stellar basketball before that, but Porter has had multiple back injuries, and Jamal Murray has missed considerable time due to a knee injury. If both can return to top form, the Denver Nuggets could be poised to contend out in the West. Otherwise, they may have a considerably tougher time in the postseason, as they have to lean heavily onto Jokic to try to carry them far into the playoffs.
Projected 2022-23 Win-Loss Record and Finish:
Projected Regular Season Finish: 45-37, 5th in the Western Conference
Expected Playoff Finish: Projected to lose in the 2nd Round to the Memphis Grizzlies
I went to Basketball-Reference and Spotrac to look up some information for this write-up. It will be an exciting basketball season this year, and the NBA season will start on October 18th. Thank you for reading my write-up of the 2023 Denver Nuggets.