The Denver Nuggets are heading in the right direction.
They have now been on that path now for more than a month.
All the recent trends all point to a team heading in the right direction.
Denver’s offense has spiked dramatically as of late due to improved shooting from beyond the 3-point arc and Nikola Jokic being absolutely masterful.
Encouragingly enough, the Nuggets’ offense has blossomed without their defense falling off. Credit strong defensive rebounding and much better defensive synergy.
In all, Denver has found a style of play conducive to a productive defense.
With Colorado NBA betting in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Nuggets’ recent improvement.
Denver’s understated improvement
Considering how decimated the Nuggets’ roster was over the first couple months of the season, it is not surprising they started out slow.
Being without Jamal Murray takes away Jokic’s release valve for when he is doubled, exhausted or just in need of support from his teammates.
So with Murray out after tearing his ACL last year, the Nuggets held out hope that Michael Porter Jr. could be Jokic’s running mate. Well, that fell flat as Porter struggled horribly to begin the year before having lumbar spine surgery to address a back issue that had been bothering him.
Add in losing P.J. Dozier for the year.
Bones Hyland was out for multiple stretches.
Monte Morris missed a few games.
Aaron Gordon was sidelined for a few others as well in addition to players and coaches being in and out due to COVID-19.
Frankly it’s amazing Denver has a shot at a top-four seed in the Western Conference at all.
While their fight throughout 2021 was admirable, the Nuggets were only able to hover around .500 because their offense was uncharacteristically flat. But now the Nuggets have found the rhythm they were desperately searching for in the first 30 games or so of the season.
In Denver’s first 33 games of the season, its 108.5 offensive rating was 19th in the league.
For a group led by the reigning Most Valuable Player in Jokic, that was stunning. It seemed unthinkable that a team featuring Jokic could be in the bottom half of the league as an offensive group.
But that was the reality the Nuggets were facing.
To make matters worse, Denver’s defensive rating of 108.9 was just 16th. That barely was good enough to steal wins here or there.
Since the calendar flipped to 2022, the Nuggets are 12-8 and on an entirely different trajectory.
After desperately hoping to avoid the play-in tournament, the Nuggets now sit just three losses outside of the fourth seed. That spot was occupied by the Utah Jazz as of Thursday.
Denver’s offense since Jan. 1 is third in the league with an offensive rating of 116.9.
That jump did not lead to any falloff defensively. Denver, since the start of the year, is 15th in defensive rating with a mark of 111.4.
Suddenly, the Nuggets have the seventh-best net rating in basketball in 2022 at plus-5.6.
Moreover, Denver’s schedule only gets easier as the season progresses.
So how have the Nuggets managed to find their way forward amidst all the chaos?
Nikola Jokic’s dominance
Since Jan. 1, Jokic is averaging an absurd 26.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, nine assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Meanwhile, he’s shot 61% from the field, 43.2% from 3-point distance, and 88.5% at the foul line.
Denver has played 20 games in 2022, and Jokic has a triple-double in eight of them while coming up one rebound or assist short another two games.
So, essentially, Jokic was producing triple-doubles in half of Denver’s games. That led to him winning Player of the Month honors for January.
Every game, Jokic is doing everything in his power to propel Denver to victories.
He is scoring at a rate many thought he would never reach purely due to his unselfish nature. And despite his focus on getting his own shots, Jokic’s ability to create for his teammates is still sublime and unprecedented for his position.
He is rebounding better than anyone not named Rudy Gobert, defending at a level far beyond what anyone thought possible just a few years ago, and doing so while taking on an entirely different level of leadership than he ever has before.
Simply stated, Jokic has been the greatest basketball player on earth this season.
No one has ever put up his point-rebounds-assists averages.
Jokic has led the Nuggets in every major statistic for nearly five years, and if he can lead the Nuggets to a top-four seed in the West and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, his resume would have him in line for his second-consecutive MVP award.
That’s an accomplishment only reached by 12 players in the history of the league.
Colorado’s online sportsbooks have certainly taken notice.
Currently, Jokic’s MVP odds are at DraftKings. That trails only Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid at .
After one of the worst offensive stretches of the Jokic Era in Denver, the Nuggets have found a rhythm.
No longer are they unable to break down opposing defenses. Denver’s games of scoring fewer than 100 points are far gone.
The Nuggets’ offensive juggernaut is back. And it’s formidable despite being without Murray and Porter.
Denver has had the league’s third-best offensive output since the start of 2022. And the Nuggets show no signs of letting up.
Jeff Green is dunking everything.
Gordon is dishing out dimes while scoring at the rim at an elite level and hitting triples in addition to his fantastic defense.
Morris is scoring more easily while continuing to keep the Nuggets’ starting unit in order.
Even the Nuggets’ bench, featuring Hyland and Zeke Nnaji, has taken significant steps forward offensively.
Denver has just three games under 100 points in their last 21. And of the 18 games they have scored at least 100, they have exceeded 115 13 times.
The Nuggets are fourth in the league in 3-point percentage (37.1%) in 2022 and first in assist percentage (69.8%). Both figures are strong indicators that the Nuggets are not only succeeding on offense, but doing so while playing their brand of basketball.
In terms of its ability to score, Denver is back.
It is the Nuggets’ current catalyst for winning.