Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

The Denver Nuggets Are Comfortable With Greed

Brendan Vogt Avatar
November 7, 2023

“Winning is fun, and losing sucks.”

Nikola Jokić

Nikola Jokić – A+

Jokić presents many versions of himself to the media and the public. Goofy, aloof—whatever he’s cared to reflect at various points in his career. His life. It’s all more intentional than he lets on. It makes it hard to write his story, a concept, and a practice he finds inherently ridiculous anyway. But over the years, we’ve seen growth in undeniable ways. While he’ll still feign disinterest in the operation at large, Jokić has never been more dialed into the details of leading an organization. He tells us who he is on the floor.

We’ve watched Jokić evolve from a timid prospect to a curious young artist to a bonafide master of the game. Gone are the days of his naive gratitude. He’s not just happy to be here. He wants to dominate. He wants it all.

If you don’t believe me, ask New Orleans Pelicans fans. They’ve watched Jokić turn into Godzilla on multiple occasions. He did it to them again Monday night. Jamal Murray missed his first game with a hamstring strain, and Jokić wasted no time picking up the slack. He got saucy with the playmaking early, beating two defenders with an around-the-back pass and dropping another between his legs. He had that look in his eye—the eye of the joker. Shot variance swung wildly in the Pelicans’ favor in the first half. They couldn’t miss, and Denver was taking on water fast. Jokić did his best to bail them out with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Then came the third quarter.

Denver delivered a Championship Haymaker coming out of the half. Their shots began to fall, they locked up on defense, and they met the standard set by their best player. Denver won the frame 40-21. Jokić posted 35-14-12 with only two turnovers in the win. He now sits in fourth place on the All-Time Triple-Doubles list.

“Winning is fun, and losing sucks,” Jokić told attending media after the game. “We’re going to try to win as much as possible. We’re not going to be cocky, but we want to be greedy.”

Michael Porter Jr. – A

You’ll hear a lot about Michael Porter Jr’s growth this season. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that Porter’s been checking these boxes for a long time. He learned how to utilize his length on defense last season. He was cutting and rebounding early in his career. And he’s been making the extra pass to KCP since Pope got to Denver. The second is how few games he’d played at the highest level before the cynics decided who he’d be at the NBA level. Porter lost out on essential minutes in college and the early years of his professional career. So to see him putting it all together like he did Monday night — scoring, rebounding, defending, cutting, passing — let’s say some of us aren’t surprised.

Aaron Gordon – A

Gordon was option A for slowing Zion Williamson and did an admirable job of mitigating the impact. He split the DPOG chain with KCP. If that were all he contributed, it would be welcomed, but he made a substantial positive impact. Gordon pulled down five offensive rebounds and 12 rebounds overall. On offense, he was cleaning up misses and zipping passes everywhere. The fake jump-shot pass is his new favorite toy. AG’s affinity for passing is blossoming into a true love. He spent too much time in Sombor.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – A

Kentavious Dishwell-Pope. We know Pope shared DPOG honors with AG, but how about the playmaking? Denver posted 37 assists as a team in the win. Every player in the rotation recorded at least one. Pope finished with seven. He also scored 15 points on 5/10 shooting, including 3/7 from deep. He has been nothing short of fantastic to open the season.

Reggie Jackson – C-

With no Murray, Jackson caught the spot-start. He struggled from the field, smoked a potential highlight from Jokić, and it felt like a turnover was coming whenever he touched the ball. Much to his credit, he didn’t turn the ball over once. He recorded four assists. It was a chaotic effort from him last night, but it’s a passing grade this morning.

Collin Gillespie – C-

The first stint was a disaster. Gillespie was too slow and too small to make an impact defensively. He was hunted on switches, and his disruptive efforts were futile. Passes and shots flew over his head. This is the most discriminatory thing I’ve written about height, and I’m disgusted with myself. Thankfully, Gillespie redeemed himself with an organized effort as the floor general during his next stretch. He recorded two steals in the second half as well.

Peyton Watson – A-

Watson played great minutes off the bench. They might’ve flown under the radar for some in an affair that featured so much offense. There were highlights left and right, but Watson was wreaking havoc on the other end. He finished with two steals and two blocks in 18:40 off the bench. He’s so disruptive and fun to watch on defense.

Julian Strawther – A+

Strawther arrives. The rookie put on a fearless performance off the bench to help spur one of the great Nuggets comebacks in recent memory. As a team, Denver shot 6/21 from 3 in the first half. Strawther was 3/4. He scored 12 more points in the second half, also turning to his floater. After the game, Strawther said he’s even more confident in his floater than his jump shot.

Christian Braun – C-

Braun shot just 1/5 and grabbed zero rebounds. It’s almost impossible to miss his impact on a game when he’s playing well. The absence of that force was noticeable in the loss.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?