Denver Nuggets: 4 bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season
The Denver Nuggets were on the brink of cracking a spot in the 2020 NBA Finals, but the experience and veteran leadership of the Los Angeles Lakers proved to be too much to handle. The Nuggets miraculously came back from a 1-3 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers, while Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic also proved to be one of the most lethal duos in the association.
The Nuggets continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the 2021 campaign as Michael Porter Jr. lived up to the hype as one of the best young wings in the league. They even added Aaron Gordon in the trade deadline as a Swiss Army Knife type of a player to compliment their core. Unfortunately, Murray incurred a torn ACL injury in March and derailed the championship aspirations of the Nuggets.
With a rejuvenated squad, here are our Denver Nuggets predictions for the upcoming NBA season.
Denver Nuggets Predictions for NBA Season
Michael Porter Jr. will win Most Improved Player
As Jamal Murray is expected to return around sometime in March, Porter Jr. has to help Jokic handle the offensive duties for the Nuggets. He is more than capable to average close to 25 PPG for the Nuggets to remain as one of the top teams in the West. His outside shooting prowess will a perfect option for Jokic and the guards to consistently rely on him to convert around three long range bombs every game.
Along with that, Porter Jr. could also create shots for himself off the dribble because of his 6’10” stature. When he gets that quick first step to the rim, he gets that boost which leaves the defense with the option to just make him convert the shot or foul him and send him to the line.
As he continues to expand his offensive game, he will also expand his vision and involve his teammates when defenses start to focus on him with their defensive schemes. Moreover, Porter Jr. has the mobility and quickness to defend the best wings in the league, so it will be integral for him to raise his defensive IQ and awareness as well.
Nikola Jokic will be better than he was last year but will not win MVP
Nikola Jokic received majority of the votes for MVP last year, and it was such an impressive season for the Serbian giant. His ability to galvanize his teammates despite not being a vocal leader is a talent that not every superstar can possess. However, one could argue that Deandre Ayton outplayed Jokic in the Western Conference Semifinals, thus there are still some facets of his game that Jokic could improve on.
The scoring production of Jokic has a large chance to increase because of the absence of Murray. He will also be more effective on the defensive side of the floor, especially with his slimmer frame. Opponents used to capitalize on the slow feet of Jokic, but his quick hands and reaction on pick and roll situations will more than mitigate his aforementioned weakness. Jokic will continue to be durable all throughout the season, but it will be tough for him to win another MVP because the Denver Nuggets will have an arduous time to replicate their third seed finish last season.
Jamal Murray comes back with 15-20 games left, leads Denver Nuggets to 2nd round
As the Nuggets continue having an atrocious time manufacturing consistent offensive production, Murray returns to the lineup at 100% and leads Denver to at least a top six seed in the Western Conference. He will not be able to play 35-40 minutes from the onset, but his mere presence and several scoring spurts are integral to the success and rise of the Nuggets.
While Murray is still getting back into game shape, he could also act as a decoy on their offensive tactics because opponents know that Murray can launch it from any part of the floor. It is also well-documented that Murray elevates his game when the lights are bright. By that juncture, Murray has already regained his confidence, and the Nuggets will be a dangerous opponent in a seven-game series.
Bol Bol finds a consistent spot on the Denver Nuggets rotation
For over two years, NBA fans have been entertained when Bol Bol enters the floor with his guard-like skills in a big man’s frame. He has not cracked the rotation yet of coach Michael Malone because he is still very raw and has a lot to prove on the NBA stage. He cannot defend bigs well because of his size, but his speed is not quick as well which will force mismatches for him on the defensive end of the floor.
Bol has a chance to earn around eight minutes per game as a backup to Jokic. Through that opportunity, he must pounce on it and prove to Malone that he could contribute on a plethora of aspects in his system. With JaMychal Green and Jeff Green being the backup of Porter Jr and Gordon, it is just realistic for Bol to be the consistent backup to Jokic. He will not be given a ton of minutes right away, but it is his job to prove himself and thrive in his role. Moreover, he can force Malone to adjust and increase his minutes and role as the season progresses.