The Denver Nuggets haven’t skipped a beat after winning the NBA title, as they have vaulted to a 4-0 record to start off the 2023-2024 NBA season. Their starters have dominated their minutes, but their bench has been surprisingly great. There were many questions during the offseason as to how the Nuggets’ bench would look after losing Bruce Brown and Jeff Green to free agency. Through four games, their bench has been rock solid, but one player has stood above the rest, Peyton Watson.
Watson is a 6’7″ versatile wing player in his second year in the NBA. The Denver Nuggets saw flashes of his potential late in the 2022-23 NBA regular season where he made noise, especially defensively. Through four games this season, Watson is averaging 8.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.5 BPG in only 16.5 minutes. Although it is an extremely small sample size, these are encouraging signs for the sophomore.
A seamless fit
Peyton Watson has looked to be a perfect fit in the Denver Nuggets’ system. He is the perfect archetype to pair alongside Nikola Jokić. Watson has proven to be a slashing wing who has stretched his range to the three-point line on offense. On defense, he fits the Nuggets’ play-style of switch-all. Playing alongside Christian Braun and Zeke Nnaji has allowed their bench unit to be able to switch between opponents with ease. Of the 36 lineups with at least 20 minutes played together this season, the Nuggets’ bench unit has started the year with a 83.6 defensive rating, ranking 2nd on that list.
Calvin Booth, the Nuggets’ general manager, has loaded up on versatile wings in the last two NBA drafts including Watson. For someone who averaged 3.3 PPG on 12.7 minutes in college, he’s off to a fantastic start to his NBA journey. He had the tools, he just needed the right situation in order to unlock them. The 2023-24 NBA season will likely have its ups and downs for Watson, but it will be a perfect time for him to prove if he is deserving of minutes.
The Nuggets already have their championship-winning starting five. Their bench needs physicality, energy and defensive prowess, traits which Watson brings to the table. The next step for Watson is finding a reliable offensive rhythm. His defensive consistency combined with his ability to shoot the three will be the defining factor in cementing a role in Michael Malone’s rotation.