The Denver Nuggets did what they had to do and gave two-time MVP Nikola Jokic a supermax overtime. They’re also bringing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back from injury, meaning they’re going into the 2022-23 NBA season with very high expectations. Here we will discuss four bold predictions for the Nuggets in the 2022-23 NBA season.
The nuggets are ready. On some level, that’s all that matters. Remember, the Nuggets still managed to avoid the play-in tournament last season despite not having Murray or Porter. Now the Nuggets are welcoming back both stars, giving this roster a much-needed boost in their playoff ambitions.
At the helm will be Jokic, who is certainly relieved to have his two running-mates back on the pitch after carrying his squad for the past two seasons. The tall Serbian can transform any game and almost exclusively wins alone. With Denver’s version of the Big Three finally whole again, the sky’s the limit for this team.
That assumes, of course, that Murray and Porter are both perfectly healthy. Therefore, we assume that they will most likely be operated with load management throughout the season. Also, Michael Malone is a strong coach who really connects with his players. All in all, the nuggets are expected to go deep next spring with better chances of making a lot of noise.
With that in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Nuggets in the 2022-23 NBA season.
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4. Michael Porter Jr.’s back is strong
Is Porter’s back problem a long-term problem or is it completely resolved? Keep in mind that his lower back injury delayed him a week in his collegiate career, cost him spots in the 2018 NBA draft and limited him to nine games last season. His lucrative contract means a lot depends on his ability to stay upright in more ways than one.
Keep in mind that while Porter is very talented, he was voted 14th overall in 2018 precisely because of his health concerns. However, during the 2020-21 season, he averaged 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 3-pointers while he was generally healthy. He also shot 54.2 percent from the field and 79.1 percent from the foul line. These numbers are certainly not to be scoffed at.
Michael Porter Jr. looks a lot like the guy who averaged 19 points 45% of 3 points two seasons ago.
Raise the cap on the Denver Nuggets dramatically if he gets back to that level or even better. pic.twitter.com/52q5InQZPA
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 13, 2022
Porter is expected to be ready for the start of the season after a full summer of recovery. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Nuggets took a conservative approach with him as the season progressed. If he can stay healthy then there’s no question he’s the third best option after Jokic and Murray.
3. Jamal Murray plays at All-Star level
Canada standout guard Jamal Murray missed the entire 2021/22 season after tearing his cruciate ligament at the end of the previous season. He was having his best season this year, averaging 21.2 points in 48/41/87 shooting splits, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Now he’s back!
Murray is technically a point guard, but with Jokic handling much of the playmaking, this Ontario native really is out there chasing buckets. Denver’s style of play gave him plenty of opportunities to hit high-impact catch-and-shoot triples. In fact, he was making 2.7 triples a game two seasons ago. He is also an enormously strong finisher on the rim. It won’t be hard to envision him playing at the All-Star level in 2022-23, although that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a true All-Star. Keep in mind that there are so many other elite guards in the west such as Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic among others.
2. Nikola Jokic is still an elite center but won’t win the MVP
There really isn’t an elite player who had to carry more weight than Nikola Jokic last season. With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr both out, the responsibility fell on Jokic to really put this team on his broad shoulders. Unsurprisingly, Jokic has risen to the occasion. Not only did he notch a career-high 27.1 points, but he also added a notable 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.3 3-pointers per game. Oh, and he also shot 58.3 percent from the field and 81.0 percent from the free throw line. What a guy, right? No wonder he was named MVP of the season for a second time.
However, now that Murray and Porter are both expected to return this season, Jokic is unlikely to match his 31.9 per cent utilization rate. Despite this, it is still among the elite centers on the planet. He should still post a solid double-double line while scoring in the high 20s and still leading the nuggets on assists.
1. Nuggets make top 4 in the West
In 2021-22, Nikola Jokic played at the highest level, leading Denver to 48 regular-season wins. Even after failing in the first round against eventual champion Golden State Warriors, the Nuggets remain well-positioned for future success as long as Murray and Porter remain healthy. We also like how they added Kentavious Caldwell-Pope which is a good 3 and D wing.
Keep in mind that despite their injury limitations, the Nuggets have improved season over season. Now that Murray and Porter are back they have everything they need to be in contention for a title. They are well balanced, have depth in every position and will be much better in the defensive half of the floor compared to last year. Jokic is one of the best players in the world and with the help he lacked a season ago, the Nuggets are a safe top four team in the West this season.