Nikola Jokić – A

Jokić and the Nuggets were in Detroit for a date with the mangled Pistons. Down a long list of key players and sporting the league’s worst record, Detroit’s interior defense proved to fit that description by default. Jokić faced little resistance as he scored 30 points on 14 of 18 shooting. He led the team in scoring and field goal attempts, recognizing the feast before him and getting to the rim at will. He posted up, put the ball on the floor from the top of the key, and cut hard off-ball. He did whatever he wanted. Jokić has been sneakily ramping up into playoff form lately, at least offensively. The team’s poor play clouds the picture, but he’s been looking at the rim more and flashing the scoring dominance that won him back-to-back MVP awards. Let’s hold off on the A+ for Thursday night’s performance, as this is expected against that opponent. There’s another gear he can hit, too.

Jamal Murray – B-

Murray took a step in the right direction against the Pistons. The shot distribution was considerably more balanced for the starters this time, and we can credit Murray for scaling down to some degree. It wasn’t always pretty, and he’s got a long way to go defensively right now, but 19 and 10 is a welcome contribution. He moved the ball well and played a proper point guard role for the second unit late in the game. Reggie Jackson, notably, did not play again.

To the dismay of anyone hoping he might catch some rest, Murray logged nearly 39 minutes, thanks to those late bench minutes. Michael Malone began the night with a KCP stagger but fell back on his preference of keeping Murray on the floor.

Michael Porter Jr. – C+

Porter took an early detour from his typical path to production. He hunted a couple of poor shots and found himself out of rhythm before the catch-and-shoot opportunities came. The result was a rare off night from three-point land. Porter’s learned what to do in those situations and started looking for points at the rim. He worked himself out of the hole and stayed engaged through the slump. He finished with three blocks on the night.

Aaron Gordon – C+

Gordon is not defending well lately. He’s fitting in just fine offensively and is still an able threat near the rim. But he’s too easy to score on at the moment. He could be banged up. He might just be saving some energy for the playoffs. I’ll even entertain the idea that we hit him with the DNVR curse. Whatever the reason, that’s the bottom line, and that’s where he can help Denver more.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – A

Pope’s lack of production lately is an under-discussed factor in the recent skid. He wasn’t just missing shots; the open looks were drying up. In Detroit, Pope got it going with the bench first. By the time his starter minutes came back, he was on fire. And Denver’s offense was healthy by the end of the fourth. The ball was moving, Pope was open, and the shots fell.

Bruce Brown – C+

Brown struggled from the field but earned the DPOG chain from Michael Malone. That’s an exchange Denver will take most nights. It’s a cherry on top when he’s scoring, but too often, that focus comes to the detriment of his defense. It’s good to see him make an impact on the defensive end.

Jeff Green – C

Jeff played again over Vlatko Čančar. He wasn’t particularly involved in the win, taking only two shots and leaving some to be desired on defense. Still, he rebounded the ball, and Denver won his minutes.

Christian Braun – A-

If Reggie Jackson is out of the rotation, that clears the way for Braun to play. Whether KCP or Murray stagger, Braun is a much-preferred option alongside either guard set. We all know why. He’s an insatiable defender, and his confidence is growing on the other end. There is a low ceiling on the firepower he provides in his rookie season. Still, the bench doesn’t boast much, to begin with. What’s the harm in him looking at the rim now and then? Braun scored nine points to go with his three rebounds and stellar defense.

Thomas Bryant – C

Bryant’s three points came from a putback, plus the foul. Perhaps rebounding is where his focus should go. He rarely receives the ball. Denver got themselves a backup center, and they have no idea what to do with him.


Brendan moved to Colorado at the start of the 2017-18 NBA season with dreams of covering the Denver Nuggets with a full time media credential. After obtaining that credential during a brief tenure with the Denver Stiffs, he made the move to DNVR at the start of the rebrand. You can read his work on DNVR Nuggets, hear him on the DNVR Nuggets podcast, and follow his tweets @DNVR_Nuggets. Follow Brendan on Twitter - @BrendanVogt

Write A Comment