The Nuggets are a really good team. They have an exceptional starting lineup, reliable bench, and great coaching staff. If not for injuries, they would’ve experienced a better outcome in the playoffs. Still, there’s a lot of work to do in the Nuggets offseason 2021.
Nuggets offseason 2021
Denver is one of the best offensive teams in the league when Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray share the floor. However, Murray suffered a torn ACL last April which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Losing Murray was huge and pivotal for the Nuggets’ playoff chances.
After getting swept by the Suns, the Nuggets will continue to bounce back next season. There’s no need to panic since they didn’t have a fully healthy roster coming into the playoffs. And they still managed to beat the Blazers.
Let’s look at three moves that must be made in the Nuggets offseason…
Continue developing their young core
The Nuggets are one of the youngest teams in the league with Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and league-MVP Nikola Jokic as their core. The sky is the limit for these guys when they play together on the hardwood.
Jokic is your 2020-2021 season MVP. He had a monster season averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists without missing a single game. With the way he’s currently playing, Jokic should have another day in the office the next season.
Porter Jr. has been breaking our right in front of our eyes. He’s been averaging 19 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game with crazy efficiency this season. The projected number 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft fell off the board because of his back injury. When healthy, we all know that he’s crazy talented—reminiscent of Kevin Durant with his size and elite shooting. In the offseason, MPJ should continue to develop on his two biggest weaknesses—defense and passing.
Acquiring Gordon at the 2021 trade deadline was a huge win for Denver. His athleticism, size, and defense are much needed, especially after the departure of Jerami Grant. The offense may come and go, but his hustle and energy make up for it. The only thing that holds him back is his free throw (65.1%) and three-point shooting (33.5%). If he continues to work on having a respectable shooting in the offseason, then he’ll become a threat as well in the offensive end.
Focusing on player development should be a priority in the Nuggets offseason. It will be an exciting season next year to see these young players expand their game further.
Find a short-term replacement for Murray
Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury in a regular-season game against the Warriors. An ACL tear may take a full calendar year to rehab and get him back to basketball shape. Thus, we anticipate him missing a huge chunk of the season next year.
While the Nuggets focus on Murray’s rehab this offseason, they should also find a short-term replacement for him. Particularly a player who can provide a scoring punch at the guard position.
Austin Rivers could be a good short-term replacement for Murray next season. He provided that much-needed scoring for Denver, especially in the series against the Blazers. After all, he’s already on a minimum contract and is already familiar with Malone’s offense.
Veteran presence is much needed on and off the court.
Thus, re-signing veterans such as Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee should be on the Nuggets’ radar this offseason. The former is reliable enough to provide size and scoring at the forward sport, and the latter is reliable enough to protect the rim especially when Jokic is out.
Will Barton is also a veteran who provides that much-needed scoring.
If he picks up his player option, then it would be icing on the cake for Denver.