The Denver Nuggets are hoping a new look team will result in an improvement in fortunes as the new season approaches, with many highlighting the Nuggets as possible dark horses in the battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Nuggets finished in second place in the Western Conference – Northwest Division last season, behind Utah Jazz, who they will face in the first game of the regular season on 19th October 2022.
Potential dark horses
With NBA viewing figures continuing to grow, it is no surprise to see a number of sportsbooks offering odds on the competition. BetMGM has priced the Nuggets at 18/1 to win the NBA Championship and 15/2 to emerge victorious in the Western Conference. Anyone who is interested in betting on the NBA should consult trusted resources which provide information about new betting sites and rate the best sportsbooks in terms of bonuses, the best odds and payment options.
A great deal of responsibility will once again rest on the shoulders of Nikola Jokić, who has won the NBA Most Valuable Player in each of the past two seasons. Jokić, who reached the round of 16 with Serbia in FIBA’s European Continental Championship, is a talismanic figure for the Nuggets, averaging 27.1 points per game last season. The management team has now recognised the need to build the side around him and ensure that he is given the optimal conditions to shine. Many believe there is even more improvement to come from the Serb, a prospect that will strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.
A highly rated rookie
The Nuggets lost 1-4 in the first round of the playoffs to eventual winners the Golden State Warriors, but hopes are high this time round following the signing of shooting guard Christian Braun, who was the 21st overall pick in the 2022 draft. The 21-year-old comes with a big college career reputation. He was NCAA champion with Kansas and made the second team of the All-Big 12 men’s basketball team this year.
The Nuggets have also traded shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and much-travelled point guard Ish Smith from the Washington Wizards with Monte Morris and Will Barton moving in the opposite direction. In addition, shooting guard Bruce Brown has been signed as a free agent.
Returning from injury
It is not only rookie additions and trades which could influence the fortunes of the Nuggets this season. A lot will depend on the ability of two players plagued by injury to regain past form. Small forward Michael Porter Jr. appeared in just nine games last season after requiring back surgery, while point guard Jamal Murray was unavailable for the full season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. If both players are able to return to their best, the Nuggets could be dark horses this season.
Tommy Balcetis, Assistant General Manager of the Denver Nuggets, is certainly happy with the team’s recruitment policy and praised the work of general manager Calvin Booth in particular: “Cal has an amazing eye for talent and that separates him from other executives around the NBA. A lot of this stems from his playing career and ability to see things from both a player and executive standpoint.”
There are a series of question marks over the Nuggets, but if everything falls into place, they could spring a surprise in the upcoming season. While a great deal will depend on the return to form of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, there is no reason why the Nuggets should not mount a major challenge this season by winning the Western Conference and advancing to the playoffs.