So, How are The Nuggets Doing?

For the first time in years, subtle and awkward Christmas party chatter around Denver has been including The Denver Nuggets. Fans are finally having fun with the team again and celebrating a winning record. So with all of this fun, what have The Nuggets been up to lately?

This season still contains the most playoff hope the Nuggets have had in years. Week 8 of the NBA season just ended and Denver is still playing basketball. The defense is still shaky on a nightly basis, injuries have begun to plague the rotations, and a roster of role-players are still struggling to find. Despite this, The Nugs are continuing to play the best brand of basketball they have in some time. Not perfect, but well.

Injuries

Injuries have crept up on The Nuggets, like they have in recent years, to players like Wilson Chandler, Nikola Jokic, and Paul Millsap. Chandler just returned from his most recent back injury, Nikola Jokic is close to returning from his leg injury, and Paul Millsap remains out for a few months while recovering from wrist surgery. With these key players gone, the core of the Nuggets role-players had to figure out their game a bit more and learn to win without their best 2 players, Jokic and Millsap. All these injuries prove is that the Nuggets are always only one major injury away from catastrophic results.

Home and Away Record

The recent power rankings seem to be bouncing the Nuggets from around the 10-17 spots. ESPN has Denver ranked 10th as of December 14th. One particular reason a 15-13 team is getting some recognition is The Nuggets 10-2 home record. Only Boston, Toronto, San Antonio, and Denver have lost 2 or games at home this year. On the polar hand, The Nugs are 5-11 on away games. They join the company of Orlando, Charlotte, Chicago, Atlanta, OKC, Sacramento, and Dallas as the only teams with double-digit away losses. One list contains exceeding NBA teams and the other less so. Denver has to get their road game together to compare more like the teams on the first list.

Nikola Jokic

Returning from his 6 Triple Double sophomore season in the NBA, Nikola Jokic continues to turn heads in the NBA world as he remains a centerpiece in the new age of 3-point shooting, pass-friendly, centers. Before messing up his leg against The Pelicans on November 30th, Jokic was averaging 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on a nightly basis. He stands as the Nuggets centerpiece, but has some tweaking to do before he can be considered an all-star in the NBA. Although he leads Denver in points, assists, and rebounds, he still remains lost when the team needs him to step to the plate in games and become the scoring machine the franchise needs him to be.

Paul Millsap

Millsap signed to the Nuggets in the offseason to a lucrative 3 year 90 Million dollar contract, easily becoming the highest paid and biggest free agent in Denver Nuggets History. Before tearing a ligament in his left wrist, Millsap was averaging a nice 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3 assists a night. It’s not Millsap’s numbers that Denver needed, it was the veteran leadership and the statement to say big name free agents CAN sign to Denver. It will still be about 2 months until Millsap steps onto the court in a Nuggets jersey, but the team, franchise, and fans can expect nothing but greatness and inspiration from Millsap for the rest of his contract.

Gary Harris

After signing a baller contract extension of 84 Million dollars over 4 years with the Nuggets, Gary Harris has maintained his game to prove he is worth that much. He is averaging 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per night while also shooting 46.4% from the field, 39% from the 3 line, and 80% from the charity stripe, giving him an eFG% of 55.7%. He's started of the Nuggets 25 games this season and scored 20+ points in 8 of them, including his first 30+ point game against the Celtics last night(36). Gary Harris is a weapon the Nuggets aren't utilizing fully. Malone needs to bank on Garris as more of a scorer due to his accuracy and drive as the Nuggets clearly need a pure scorer on the team to step up.

Trade?

As always, NBA teams should be looking to make a trade with another franchise to help the team mid-season. Two Nuggets really stand out to most fans as “obvious” trade pieces, and that’s Will Barton and Kenneth Faried. The two are huge fan favorites around The Mile High city, but they also hold tremendous trade value.

Will Barton is a strange player. He seems to play well in games where the Nuggets need a role player to step up (career-high 37 points and game-winner against Chicago) while he also tends to take control of games when it’s not necessary, resorting to his isolation style of basketball. He is a nice role-player and has a trade-friendly contract of 3.5 Million this year. Denver should look to trade with a shooting guard starved team to deal Barton if necessary.

Kenneth Faried has played his heart out in Denver since being drafted here in 2011, averaging 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. Denver has been awkwardly trying to move away from the George Karl era for some time now, and the last piece from that era is Faried. Since being moved to the bench after Denver signed Paul Millsap, Faried has been outspoken about how he feels he’s a starter while also putting up a decent average of 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds a night. His contract of roughly 13 Million dollars would likely be a salary dump of a trade, but any team lacking a rebounding specialist should be calling up Denver for Faried.

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