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Nuggets Roundtable: Who needs to make the leap this season?

Harrison Wind Avatar
August 14, 2023

Aaron Gordon made the trek to Sombor last weekend, so who’s the next Nuggets player to visit Nikola Jokic’s hometown? Also, what Nuggets player needs to make the leap next season and what’s one lineup that DNVR Nuggets wants to see this coming season? The fellas discuss in the latest roundtable.

Which Nugget needs to make the leap in order for Denver to repeat next season?

Adam Mares: Peyton Watson

I think we know what we are going to get from the starting five. I think we more-or-less know what we’ll get from Christian Braun, even if he makes a meaningful leap in his sophomore season. But the Nuggets will need their 7th and 8th guys in the rotation to make an impact. They’ll also need a wing defender who can guard the lengthier scorers in the NBA.

Harrison Wind: Christian Braun

We’re not talking enough about the leap Braun can make from his rookie to sophomore season. We know he’s a worker. We know he lives in the gym. We know he’s dedicated to his craft. Why can’t he make a leap — mainly an offensive one — next year? Bruce Brown shot 35.8% from 3 last season. Christian Braun shot 35.4%. Bruce Brown averaged 14.6 points per 36 minutes last season. Christian Braun averaged 11. I don’t think Braun will totally replace Brown’s offensive production, but I think he can come close. And no one is talking about that as a possibility it seems. Denver kind of needs him to be its punch off the bench too.

Brendan Vogt: Michael Porter Jr.

With Bruce Brown gone, Porter might see an increased workload and additional responsibilities in Denver. Brown was the failsafe option for lingering deficiencies and anxieties relating to Porter’s defense. That crutch is gone — although Braun might, in theory, step up. There’s also the question of whether MPJ is under-utilized or if additional usage would bring diminishing returns in this nearly flawless offense.

I’m at least curious about the following possibility. If the Nuggets dedicate significant time to finding the sweet spot for Porter’s contributions, they might reach another level on offense. That would render virtually all off-season activity meaningless—even the loss of Brown.

What’s one lineup that you’re looking forward to watching next season?

Mares: Murray/Braun/Peyton/MPJ/Jokic

I’m not sure we’re going to get this lineup next season but it would be a lot of fun if we did. Denver’s offensive big 3 surrounded by two high-energy cutters who can defend at a high level is a near perfect mix. I like MPJ at power forward, especially in staggered lineups. I like long lineups. And I love lineups that feature multiple high-level cutters. Braun and Watson could provide the much-needed offball movement that makes things easiest for Murray, Porter, and Jokic to do their thing.

Wind: Reggie Jackson/Christian Braun/Peyton Watson/Michael Porter Jr/Zeke Nnaji

I want this to be the primary bench lineup next season. I think it has a better chance of succeeding than what I think the more likely bench lineup will be (Murray/Jackson/Braun/Watson/Nnaji) and I want minutes for Porter at power forward. Porter staggering with the bench is the best way to make that happen and get him time at the four. His rebounding would be a welcomed addition to the second unit, and I want to see what he can do with more offensive responsibility. This regular season is a perfect time to find out what he can do with more usage.

Vogt: Jamal Murray/Christian Braun/Peyton Watson/Michael Porter Jr/Zeke Nnaji

I don’t know if we’ll see this lineup. I’d like to.

You’re going to win most of the Jokić minutes. If Murray and Porter take the court with versatile athletes willing to do the dirty work, you can win the non-Jokic minutes. The obvious counter is that limiting MPJ’s burn has always been about keeping him healthy and on the floor. More than fair. But this may be the best shot to get him additional reps under additional attention from the defense.

With Aaron Gordon’s visit to Sombor last weekend, who’s the next Nuggets player to visit Nikola Jokic’s hometown?

Mares: No one.

That’s what makes Aaron Gordon’s trip so special; it’s not a normal thing for an NBA player to do. I don’t see another player on the roster making a similar trek anytime soon.

Wind: Jamal Murray

Jamal is the next Nuggets player who needs to take the pilgrimage to Sombor. I think there’s a chance he makes the trip too, especially if he finds himself in Europe this summer or next. If Gary Harris went to Sombor, Jamal Murray can. Murray and Jokic are already cemented as the duo that will define this era of Nuggets basketball. A Sombor visit from Murray can put them on another level though.

Vogt: DeAndre Jordan

Jordan’s reverence for Nikola Jokić’s approach seems genuine. Jordan’s also a seasoned veteran in the niche skill of sticking around. He’s arguably one of the best to do it. There’s room for genuine sentiments and pandering in that art form. DAJ can put it all together.

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