Things are not going according to plan for the Denver Nuggets.
The team is currently sixth in the Western Conference after many predicting they’d rank much higher this season.
For several years now, the Nuggets have been this close to being one of the best teams in the NBA.
However, this season they are barely at .500 when they finished last with a 47-25 record.
That means the Nuggets are actually worse this season than last, and that’s not a good sign at all.
What’s causing the disruption of their potential and what can they do to get back on track?
No Backup Center
MVP Nikola Jokic is the star of the Nuggets and there’s no doubt about that.
But he needs some assistance if the team wants to be a true contender.
Right now, one of the biggest issues with the team is that there is no one to replace Jokic.
And when Jokic isn’t doing well, the team isn’t doing well.
On December 23, the team fell apart when Jokic went 13 of 34 from the field, missing 21 shots.
Nikola Jokic had 29/21/5.
His team blew a 19-point lead.
He was the only positive +/- on the Nuggets tonight. pic.twitter.com/LM8Qj9SdHb
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 24, 2021
It’s rare that a squad relies so much on one player but that’s exactly what’s going on with the Nuggets and Jokic.
If the team’s front office put effort into finding a reliable backup for their star player, they would be in a much better position.
As we all know, the Nuggets are missing one of their most important players: Jamal Murray.
Murray has been out all season with an ACL tear and the team is desperately missing him.
Not only was he a great scorer, but he also helped space the floor out and take some of the pressure off of top dog, Jokic.
But Murray’s isn’t the only injury that is bothering Denver – there are a few people on the bench who Denver definitely needs.
Here is the Nuggets injury report which is still long.
Gordon is questionable and Bol has been upgraded to questionable. Monte Morris (L knee soreness) is also questionable.
Murray, Dozier, Porter and Howard are all still out. pic.twitter.com/7EHP33QsUz
— T.J. McBride (@TJMcBrideNBA) December 27, 2021
And that’s not to mention the chaos that COVID protocols are causing.
It’s hard for a team to run efficiently when it has lost so many people and the subtraction of this talent is surely adding to Denver’s woes.
With big guys like Jokic and Aaron Gordon, you would think the Nuggets would have some of the best defense in the league.
Well, that’s not the case.
The team is 28th in total rebounds (29th in offensive rebounds) and 27th in blocks.
That goes to show that they aren’t doing a great job at securing the ball and blocking shots.
And a team can’t go all the way if they’re letting so many points slip right through their fingers.
Just the other day, when they went down to the Charlotte Hornets they blew a 19-point lead, which just goes to show a lack of enthusiasm and drive to get stops and defend the basket.
Of course, the painful offense of that particular game didn’t help them either.
The bottom line is that the Nuggets have a few major areas that need repairing before they can take the throne in the West.
Yes, some of their problems are not their fault – like Murray’s injury or COVID protocols – but some of them are very much solvable.