The 2022-23 season has exciting potential for the Denver Nuggets. The franchise was eliminated by the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the playoffs last year. The strong play of back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic carried the team to a 48-34 record last season. The superstar is set to have some reinforcements moving forward. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr are expected to make their return to the lineup after missing all but nine combined games last season. The two costars will be able to take some of the offensive load off of Jokic in the hope of it translating to deeper playoff success.

While the greatest improvement to the team will be from this duo returning to the court, this did not stop Denver from attempting to make some roster alterations. Their offseason was highlighted by giving Nikola Jokic the supermax extension he deserves. They traded Monte Morris and Will Barton for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. The Nuggets also added Bruce Brown who will prove to be a key rotational piece. Their draft class was highlighted by Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

While the team has made plenty of moves in the right direction, it was not a perfect offseason. One of the surprising moves was the addition of DeAndre Jordan. The 33-year-old agreed to a veteran’s minimum contract with the Nuggets immediately at the start of free agency. While Jordan was at one time a terrific NBA big man, relying on him at this stage in his career is a major mistake for the Nuggets.

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DeAndre Jordan has struggled to find a long-term fit with a franchise over the past few years. He did not play well with the Nets, Lakers, or 76ers in his last three NBA stops. The veteran has clearly lost a step and has not kept up with the progression in talent that has continued in the NBA. Jordan made a successful career due to his high-flying ability as a lob threat. His efficient finishing ability, high-level rebounding, and proficient shot-blocking made him an All-Star for a season.

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Unfortunately, these characteristics are extremely reliant on his frame and jumping ability. As DeAndre Jordan has progressed into his career, this jumping ability has not continued. There was a point in time where having a seven-foot frame was all you needed to be an NBA player. Unfortunately, the league has progressed and continued to get more skilled. Jordan has not kept with this upward trajectory and has been left behind in the modern NBA.

While many distinguish the importance of a backup center, a game can be swung in the minutes they are on the court. Nikola Jokic will obviously be counted on for the bulk of the minutes but cannot play all 48. The Nuggets saw great success in the production of DeMarcus Cousins last season. In the 31 games he spent with the team he proved the be the type of backup the organization needed. In 13.9 minutes per game, Cousins averaged 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.

What makes the Nuggets backup center role unique is the large shoes that are left by Nikola Jokic. While most teams plug and play centers, the position is more important in Denver. The reigning MVP is at the core of everything the Nuggets do offensively. His passing ability makes his skillset especially unique. Cousins showed intriguing flashes as a passer last season which made him such a seamless fit in the backup role. DeAndre Jordan does not possess the passing ability to fill this role. The return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr will provide options in the lineups, but changes to the style of play must be made with Jordan on the floor.

As the roster currently sits, Nikola Jokic and DeAndre Jordan are the only true Centers on roster. Zeke Nnaji could also play the role but is still developing. While Jordan has been regarded as a positive locker room guy, counting on him as the only backup big man is a mistake. The veteran is clearly past his best days and very limited in what he can do. The two-time rebounding champ has been unable to maintain the backup center role in his last three destinations and relying on him to do this in Denver is a mistake.

The return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr signals the Nuggets flipping the switch to win-now mode. They must be sure to have proper pieces in place to ensure this is possible. Backup centers typically come available throughout the season and the Nuggets would be wise to keep an eye on other potential options.