Nuggets Continue Finding Ways To Win With Key Players Injured

Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

For three straight seasons, the Denver Nuggets have been a force in the Western Conference, but have been unable to break through in the NBA playoffs. They have won a first-round playoff series for three straight years now, including going to the Western Conference Finals in 2020, however, injury concerns have made Denver’s championship chances drop significantly this season. 

Jamal Murray has yet to play due to undergoing ACL surgery last season and Michael Porter Jr. went down with a back injury early on in the season that he has yet to return from, yet the Nuggets find themselves 36-25, tied with the Dallas Mavericks and currently the 6-seed in the Western Conference. 

Having Murray and Porter Jr. on the floor makes the Nuggets a top-tier team in this conference, but reigning league-MVP Nikola Jokic has continued to elevate his play and is having a better season than he did last year when he won the MVP award! 

Playing in 55 of his team’s 61 games this season, Nikola Jokic has averaged 25.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.4 steals and is shooting 56.7% from the floor, putting him right at the top of the MVP rankings for Joel Embiid this season. 

LATEST NBA NEWS & INJURY UPDATES: Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. Trending Toward Returning In March

They may be missing a large chunk of offensive production this year due to injuries, but the Nuggets have proven that they are a deep team and they have won 16 of their last 22 games, most recently defeating the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night by 32 points on the road. 

Personal stats have never been important to Nikola Jokic and while winning another MVP award would be a big honor for him and this franchise, he does not seem too concerned about the award. 

Jokic just goes out on the floor every single night and does something special as a 7-foot, 280 lbs big man. He truly is one of the most fascinating players in NBA history because of his size and stature as a center in this league and his recent numbers against the Blazers proves this. 

In the Nuggets’ massive victory, Denver’s star center recorded 18 rebounds and 11 assists, but he only scored 8 points on 3-5 shooting. It is surprising to see the Nuggets not want to get Nikola Jokic his 17th triple-double of the season, especially since he is so tight with Joel Embiid in the MVP race, but this just goes to show that winning is more important for this franchise and that they do not need Nikola Jokic to score all the time in order to be successful. 

LATEST NBA NEWS & INJURY UPDATES: Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. Trending Toward Returning In March

Denver’s bench scored 76 total points on Sunday night in Portland, including 20 points from JaMychal Green, 17 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 17 points from Bryn Forbes. 

“We’ve got a lot of talented guys in that second unit,” Bryn Forbes stated after the game. “A lot of guys can come in and get hot, put up some points and help us win games.”

What the Nuggets have done this season short-handed and facing new injuries what seems like after every single game is quite remarkable, especially the fact that they rank 12th in the league in bench scoring. 

Claiming the 6-seed or better and avoiding the play-in tournament altogether in the Western Conference this season would be a huge “win” for the Nuggets and they could be getting some major boosts to their rotations ahead of the playoffs. 

LATEST NBA NEWS & INJURY UPDATES: Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. Trending Toward Returning In March

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Michael Porter Jr. is progressing to be cleared for on-court contact within the next week and he could realistically return to the Nuggets’ lineup at some point in March. 

Porter Jr. has not played since November 6 due to a lower back injury that required lumbar spine surgery on December 1. 

The Nuggets could also be getting Jamal Murray back in the near future as well, as he has been ramping up his rehab process and practice regime. However, Denver has not given a clear timeline for when to expect Murray or Porter Jr. back from their respective injuries. 

Will Barton, Monte Morris, Aaron Gordon and the Nuggets’ bench has stepped up tremendously this season given all of this team’s injury concerns, but the fact of the matter that remains is that Nikola Jokic is their only true weapon. 

LATEST NBA NEWS & INJURY UPDATES: Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. Trending Toward Returning In March

It will be very interesting to see how this team finishes the regular season and how they look heading into the playoffs because if they can get both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back at some capacity, they could be a threat to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals or further.

About Brett Siegel 1870 Articles
Brett Siegel joined NBA Analysis Network as an NBA Insider and Journalist in 2020 after previously working with Louisville Basketball and FanSided covering the NBA. He was a member of our staff until April 2022.