In the West all eyes are on the Los Angeles Lakers looking to win back-to-back Championships, or on the Los Angeles Clippers looking to stealing the spotlight. However, people need to stop sleeping on the Denver Nuggets. At the time of this writing Denver’s record is 7-7, which is pretty good, but the season is still early and they are showing flashes of greatness. Here are three reasons we may be seeing the Nuggets in this years finals.
Nikola Jokic is No Longer Fat, and He’s Stuffing All Stats
The literal and figurative center of the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic, has been playing insanely well this season. He is sneaky, averaging a triple-double every game, and at the time of this writing he has the highest usage rate of ALL NBA players and leads the league in assists per game. Being a great passer in the center role allows him to dish the rock with ease when the eventual double team attempts to slow him down, and Denver is brimming with scorers. At 25, his best years are still up ahead. To top it off, he shed over 30 lbs since last season! That is the equivalent of a dog holding a bowling ball! This allows the 7-footer to be incredibly agile and a beast on the offensive glass. With Jokic as captain, he could be stirring the Nuggets’ ship to the Western Conference finals if he continues this performance.
Nothing Changed…in a Good Way
That’s right, the best move Denver made was no moves. This could be a sign of stagnation, or even detrimental for teams looking to improve from the previous year, but in the case of the young Denver squad this allows them to finally play together at full health. Life in the bubble last season also did wonders for the team’s synergy and bond. The team that is forced to stay together, plays together!
Michael Porter Jr.’s Number Has Been Called
His hype coming out of college is finally materializing on the main stage. He started his career injured. Even when healthy he was a victim to a deep bench. Even though Denver’s bench is still deep, Michael Porter Jr. is now starting and his play is undeniably spectator. The world is finally seeing all of his potential.
It will take an extraordinarily mighty force to dethrone the Lakers. Anthony Davis will put Jokic through the wringer, and the elite basketball IQ and outer-worldly physique of LeBron James makes him practically un-guardable. Still, it would be very foolish to snooze on the Nuggets. They are in shape. They are talented. They are hungry.