The Denver Nuggets are one of the few franchises that have been built from the ground up. The Nuggets Big 3 of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. were all drafted by the front office rather than recruiting their core through free agency or trades. It has been a sustainable and commendable approach that would give the city of Denver a delightful next 5-10 years because of its strong nucleus.
Reaching the 2020 West Finals was a huge accomplishment for the Nuggets, but these past two seasons have drastically affected the performance of the squad due to lingering injuries to Murray’s knee and Porter Jr.’s back. The foundation of Denver’s roster is remarkable, but they still need the ancillary pieces to catapult them to a legitimate threat in the deep Western Conference. Thus, these are the three types of players they must keep their eye on in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Nuggets 2022 NBA Draft Needs
The style of coach Michael Malone is relying heavily on the strengths of Nikola Jokic through his spectacular passing and scoring ability. Guys like Aaron Gordon and Will Barton have been improving their production because of their off-ball movement and timely anticipation. However, the Nuggets lineup lacks an incredible three-point shooter who could flourish in a system built around Jokic.
There are a few names who have built a name for themselves in the NBA, particularly due to their long-range shooting capabilities. Jokic’s close friend Luka Doncic has elevated the scoring output of his teammates like Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith because of his fantastic unselfishness and simultaneously forcing opponents to leave them open on the corners and wings. Denver must look at that as a blueprint on why shooters must be a priority if there is a Nik0la Jokic kind of player on their lineup.
Spitfire scorer off the bench
Drafting Bones Hyland last year and having Monte Morris playing behind Jamal Murray may seem to be an ideal bench unit that could handle the scoring load. The problem with the bench of Denver has been their inconsistency as many of their big leads this season were eradicated because of the subpar performance of the role players.
The Miami Heat drafting Tyler Herro or the Phoenix Suns selecting Cam Johnson gives them a sustainable option of handling the shot creation and shooting when their stars are taking a breather. The Nuggets must search and get an underrated name who could provide an instant impact even in just 12-15 minutes every game. Austin Rivers and Facundo Campazzo are entering free agency in the offseason, so this new draftee could fill in that void in the roster.
Sizable backup to Jokic
Losing Mason Plumlee to the Detroit Pistons was a vital loss to the rotation of Malone. JaVale McGee and DeMarcus Cousins were the two bigs who had the task of protecting the lead during the non-Nikola Jokic minutes over the past two seasons. The problem is the organization seems to have only band-aid solutions to this crucial role, but now it could be a youthful individual from this year’s draft.
As mentioned earlier, the non-Jokic minutes were an enormous reason for some of their close losses in the fourth quarter. Thus, having a defensive-minded and ultra-competitive big man would be a tremendous fit for the Nuggets system. An upgrade from Zeke Nnaji would be a terrific boost for them as they would have a building block who can continually progress into a formidable NBA big man.
The responsibilities of the needs of Denver are not as massive as compared to other franchises. The problem could persist when these up-and-coming folks are not humble enough to accept a smaller role and still give their utmost effort and grit. As the Nuggets’ front office starts cutting down the names they must choose from, the priority must be on people who thrive in a winning environment and one who would complement perfectly the core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr.