The Denver Nuggets roster is decimated.
Not only is Jamal Murray out indefinitely as he rehabilitates from tearing his ACL, but the Nuggets might be staring down the possibility of losing Michael Porter Jr. for the rest of the season as well, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
Bones Hyland is also battling through a sprained right ankle which will keep him out of multiple games. Zeke Nnaji — who was playing the best basketball of his career before getting hurt — has also missed multiple games with a right ankle sprain. Now, to make matters even worse, reigning NBA NVP Nikola Jokić is battling a right wrist sprain.
While this is a massive detriment for Denver’s regular-season success, it does provide some unique edges for Nuggets bettors. There are multiple players who will need to step up with so many ailing members of the roster. The player props for those players could prove to be valuable with the right information.
Aaron Gordon leading the way for banged-up Nuggets
So far it has been Aaron Gordon who has seen the biggest boost in production with so many people on the injury report. In his 32.6 minutes per game over his last five games, Gordon is averaging 15.6 points per game on 50.8% shooting from the field and 38.5% from three-point range to go with 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists. The Nuggets are prioritizing this involvement in the offense significantly more since Porter went down with his low back injury and that should only continue with Denver down so many rotational players.
Jeff Green is one player who will continue to be relied upon with Porter out for potentially the rest of the season. He has been starting at power forward, moving Gordon to small forward, which has boosted his minutes. Over his last seven games, since joining the starting lineup with Porter out, Green is averaging 28.3 minutes a night. His numbers are not gaudy — 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds averaged per contest — but it is easy to count on his playing time going forward.
Will Barton could provide value to Nuggets bettors
Lastly, the Nuggets remaining guards have a heavy burden to carry and that will be led by Will Barton III, who is having the best season of his career. He is one of five players currently averaging 16.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on 40% or better from 3-point range with the others being Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Brandon Ingram and Jokić. His impact offensively is as good as anyone could ask for and he is having his best season to date on the defensive end of the floor. Without Barton, the Nuggets would be in dire straights. He has helped provide stability with so many players in and out of the lineup and acted as a running mate for Jokić. The Nuggets will rely heavily on him with Monte Morris playing through injury, Hyland missing games with his ankle sprain and Murray still working his way back. Look for player props for Barton’s points and assists against struggling defenses and hammer the over.
Morris has started to find a rhythm recently despite the ailments he is fighting through so it is easy to depend on his inclusion in the offensive structure, but his production has varied night by night. The same can be said for Austin Rivers and Facu Campazzo off of the bench. Neither provides much of an edge to fans betting on the NBA because of those inconsistencies.
Guards need to step Denver
The last guard who could be someone on his way to a jump in production is PJ Dozier, but, unfortunately, his play has wavered as of late. His 3-point shot is inconsistent and he has not been able to get downhill with or without a screen with regularity which has hindered his playmaking ability. Denver needs more from Dozier, but whether or not he is able to pull through is another matter entirely. Despite his importance, his value to bettors is shaky at best due to his lack of consistency.
One or two of Morris, Dozier, Campazzo or Rivers needs to step up to provide the Nuggets with a lift. Smart money would be on Morris and Dozier stepping into bigger roles.
Bucks vs Nuggets
Denver will be facing the reigning NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks at Ball Arena on Friday and it will not be an easy battle for the Nuggets.
Yes, Denver is 7-3 at home so looking to take them against the spread is not an inherently bad decision, but the Bucks are now fully healthy and that creates some matchup nightmares for the banged up Nuggets.
Gordon will have to defend one of Kris Middleton or Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving the other for Green to guard however he can despite being a weak link in the chain against either of the Bucks star wings. Barton will most likely draw the task of guarding Jrue Holiday which is no walk in the park either; especially when considering how much the Nuggets are going to be asking of Barton on the offensive end of the floor. It is going to be difficult for the Nuggets to matchup with the Bucks even if Jokic returns from his right wrist sprain in time.
It is hard not to like the Bucks in Denver against a badly injured Nuggets roster. They have the ingredients to exploit Denver’s weaknesses while also having a MVP candidate in Antetokounmpo on the roster. In terms for NBA MVP odds, Antetokounmpo sits at to win the award.