With the playoffs on the horizon, DNVR anonymously surveyed 15 media members over the last week — one from each team in the Western Conference — to get their thoughts on the current state of the Nuggets. Each media member answered the same 10 questions.
Their responses are below.
Who is the best team in the West?
- Nuggets (12 votes)
- Suns (3 votes)
Everyone who was surveyed answered either Denver or the Phoenix, although some who sided with the Suns included a caveat that they had to be fully healthy for them to be considered the West’s best team. There’s definitely a clear first tier at the top of the conference that includes the Nuggets and Suns.
The Nuggets are the ___ most likely team in the West to make the Finals?
- 1st (9 votes)
- 2nd (5 votes)
- 4th (1 vote)
While 12 out of the 15 media members surveyed think the Nuggets are the best team in the West, not all of them agreed that the Nuggets are the likeliest team to make the Finals.
What will be the Nuggets’ biggest weakness in the playoffs?
- The bench (6 votes)
- The defense (6 votes)
- Coaching (1 vote)
- Top-end talent (1 vote)
- Past playoff success (1 vote)
No surprise here, Denver’s top two question marks right now rise to the top of this question. Some voters included that they’re worried about the Nuggets’ ability to score with Nikola Jokic off the floor. Others questioned the second unit rotation that Denver has settled on. Of course, severeal had concerns about Denver’s defense, particularly the Nuggets’ ability to defend the pick-and-roll. Three media members specifically mentioned Jokic’s pick-and-roll defense. One mentioned Jamal Murray’s defense.
What should the Nuggets’ playoff expectations be?
- Western Conference Finals (9 votes)
- Finals (5 votes)
- Championship (1 vote)
In Denver, our expectations seem to be a bit higher than the rest of the West’s. Context will be everything in determining if expectations are met this season unless, of course, the Nuggets take home the Larry O’B’.
If the Nuggets don’t reach their playoff expectations, what should happen next?
- Run it back and re-tool (9 votes)
- Make a coaching change (4 votes)
- Consider trading Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. (2 votes)
Most media members polled agreed that running it back and re-tooling around the current core in Denver would be the best outcome if expectations aren’t met this season. Most of the responses that came in from that group included notes about seeking out better defenders and stocking the roster with more wings. Two media members think a significant trade would be the Nuggets’ best route if this season ends poorly. One of those responses said that Denver should trade Michael Porter Jr. The other said that Denver should consider trading either Porter or Murray.
Who is the worst matchup for the Nuggets in the playoffs?
- Suns (10 votes)
- Warriors (4 votes)
- Kings (1 vote)
The Suns take the top spot here, which is no surprise, but the Warriors are still lurking. Golden State’s gentleman’s sweep of Denver in last year’s first round is still on some minds. There was some crossover here between the voters who were most concerned about the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll defense and those who think Golden State is Denver’s worst matchup.
Who is the Nuggets’ X-factor?
- Michael Porter Jr. (8 votes)
- Jamal Murray (2 votes)
- Aaron Gordon (2 votes)
- Reggie Jackson (2 votes)
- Bruce Brown (1 vote)
One voter called Porter “the biggest X-factor in the league” and he was the popular choice here. The surprise here was of course Jackson, who received two votes, even after falling out of the Nuggets’ rotation two weeks ago. The two media members who answered Jackson called back to his big playoff performances of years past. If he “gets hot,” one voter said he could swing a playoff series. “If there is a ‘Bruce Brown Game’ somewhere along the way, I will not be shocked,” said another voter.
Which Nuggets rotation player do you trust the least in the playoffs?
- Michael Porter Jr. (6 votes)
- Jeff Green (4 votes)
- Jamal Murray (1 vote)
- Aaron Gordon (1 vote)
- Zeke Nnaji (1 vote)
- Christian Braun (1 vote)
- Everyone on the bench (1 vote)
While Porter is the popular choice for the Nuggets’ X-factor, he’s also someone who these media members don’t enter the playoffs with a ton of confidence in. A lot of that likely has to do with what the conference-wide view still is on Porter compared to how his season has actually gone. We’ve watched firsthand this year as Porter has improved defensively and fit seamlessly into the Nuggets’ offense. If you haven’t watched this Nuggets season closely, you may have missed his progression and might still look at him as the player he was in the playoffs two seasons ago. Green was the clear second choice.
Who’s the Nuggets’ best defensive player?
- Aaron Gordon (7 votes)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6 votes)
- Bruce Brown (2 votes)
Gordon barely edges Caldwell-Pope out here in what I’d call an upset. The voters cited Gordon’s versatility in their answers. Denver’s “best and most versatile defender,” said one media member.
Nikola Jokic will be the __ best player in the West in the playoffs
- 1st (9 votes)
- 2nd (5 votes)
- 3rd (1 vote)
Most voters are buying Jokic heading into the postseason, but some still would rather have Steph Curry or Kevin Durant in a playoff environment. Most media members agreed that Jokic needs to be the best player in the West for the Nuggets to reach the Finals.