The Denver Nuggets are the top defensive team in the NBA allowing 101.8 points per contest. They have been dominant on that side of the ball all year long. Last year, when they emerged as a top team in the West, many were still doubting them. Including myself. I was never a true believer in that Nuggets team from a year ago. They ended up falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in 7 games in the conference semi-finals. Everyone pegged the winner of that series as the team who will move on only to lose to the Warriors. That’s what it was! the Blazers got swept. Denver was on the cusp last season, but they never took that leap to becoming a true contender. 2019-2020 seems different. They’re dominating teams in different ways. Denver should be considered a contender. Here’s why I believe they’ll be serious come playoff time this time around.
The “Joker” has finally found his stride. For the early part of the campaign, he looked slow, out of shape, and not engaged. Jokić is a quiet player that lets his game do the talking, so we can only speculate as to why he was performing so poorly. He was an MVP candidate last year and had looked far removed from that form to start the year. Nikola Jokić flipped the switch in a game against the Boston Celtics in which he went for 30 points and 10 rebounds. Since that game, he’s pouring in 22.4 points and 10.6 boards per contest. He’s doing all this on an efficient 54% as well. It wasn’t a question about if he was going to turn it around or not, but a question of when.
Barton has been playing at a high level this year. He’s averaging 14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, all on 45% from the field and 42% from 3. Denver Nuggets’ color commentator, Scott Hastings said that “The Thrill” has been playing at an all star level. I believe that’s a bit of a stretch, especially in the loaded western conference, but it isn’t a totally outlandish statement. Will has had a rocky injury history in the past, but his health has held up very nicely this season. Will Barton provides great energy, has shot the ball so well, and been a borderline elite defender. He and Gary Harris make for one of the more dominant defensive-minded wing combinations in the NBA.
Securing Home Court.
The team sits 3rd in the conference with an 18-8 record. Denver is an extremely tough place to play in due to the altitude. If they can secure a top seed and host playoff series, they’ll need to be taken seriously come postseason time. They are an all-around team that moves to the beat of their best player, Nikola Jokić. The Denver Nuggets will go as far as the Serbian will take them. He’s been great as of late and will need to be amazing in April if the team hopes to be playing in June.
Feature Photo Credit: sbnation.com
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