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Nuggets Roundtable: Who's in the current Circle of Trust?

Harrison Wind Avatar
March 10, 2023

We’re firmly in the stretch run of the regular season and the Nuggets are coming off a bad loss at home to the Bulls. What are the fellas watching for tonight in San Antonio and is there anything concerning to take away from the Chicago loss? Also, the DNVR Nuggets crew discusses who’s in their Circle of Trust.

What’s the top storyline you’re watching for tonight in San Antonio?

Adam Mares: I just want to see the team get back to playing connected basketball. I think there will be hot streaks and cold streaks but the one thing I hope the team maintains over the upcoming stretch is their offensive rhythm. Rhythm isn’t something you can turn on and turn off. You need to find it and stay in it as much as possible.

Harrison Wind: I want a banger from Nikola Jokic. I know Jokic doesn’t need to prove anything to me or to anyone in a regular season game against the tanking Spurs, but it feels like we could use one of those nights from him to get the vibes right again. Tonight would be the perfect time for a reminder game. Jokic is coming off two games where he just didn’t have his regular juice. His defense – besides the strip/block late in the 4th quarter vs. Toronto to help the Nuggets get that win – has been absent. He’s not alone either. Denver hasn’t defended as a team these last two games. Whether it’s a big scoring night or a 15-15-15 game, a patented Jokic performance against the Spurs would correct the vibes heading into the weekend.

Brendan Vogt: Can Thomas Bryant get anything going? He shot the ball well in the loss to Chicago. And the backup center minutes are still up in the air. It might be wise to stagger Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon with the bench in the playoffs, but I get the sense Malone’s preference is that Bryant finds something here in the final hour.

Was there anything concerning to you about the loss to the Bulls?

Mares: Absolutely not. And I expect a few more of those games over the next two weeks. If we see losses like that against better teams and in games that carry more weight, I’ll become concerned. But that game meant nothing.


The bench needs to start showing…something? Mostly Reggie Jackson and Thomas Bryant. Denver needs to use these last 16 regular season games to find out if they’re playoff players. The bench was awful against Chicago.

But I think what you saw against the Bulls was one team that is playing for something right now (Chicago has had an awful season but is fighting to get into the play-in) against one whose regular season is pretty much over. The Nuggets are going to coast to the No. 1 seed in the West. The fact that you can say that when there are still 16 games left in the regular season is crazy. But the Nuggets have already taken care of their business this regular season. They’ve accomplished the job. You just hope (and I think they will) that Denver refocuses quickly. You don’t want the bad habits that the Nuggets showed vs. the Bulls staying present with the playoffs on the horizon.

Vogt: It’s the kind of loss that’s concerning when strung together with other poor performances. But Denver’s answered most of the challenges they faced this regular season. They’d been on a tear and had just dismantled Memphis. The dam was bound to break eventually after they essentially locked up the one seed. It’s hard to consider it a sign of things to come in the playoffs considering the Bulls are currently out of the playoff picture.

Who’s in your updated Circle of Trust?

Mares: Let’s update the list.

Jokic, Murray, Gordon, and KCP are fully in. MPJ has done all that he can to gain entry. He’s passed all of the tests that have been given to him. But he won’t get fully in until the playoffs. Sorry, that’s just the rules. Bruce, Vlatko, Braun, and Jeff are in but with limited responsibility. I don’t think anyone else is breaking in this season.

Wind: Jokic, Murray, Gordon, KCP, Brown, Cancar, Green, Braun are in mine. MPJ has done everything he’s needed to get in there — he’s improved his defense and has had some big offensive nights against playoff-caliber defenses — but I still need to see it in the playoffs.

Vogt: The entire starting lineup should be in there. It’s among the very best lineups in basketball. Bruce Brown and Vlatko Čančar are the bench players I trust most, but their cases aren’t airtight. While Denver’s revamped roster is better suited for the playoffs, that’s easily overstated. The bench is terrible again. There are still only 6-7 guys in the circle.


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