Look at this shit:
Ignoring conferences for a minute, looking at the overall league standings, you could make a solid argument for every team, from the current #1 Boston Celtics to the #9 Dallas Mavericks, that they could realistically win the NBA championship this year. Looking further down the list, you also have the #13 Clippers, #14 Warriors, and #15 Suns, who all are also serious contenders. The NBA is in an awesome place competitively, where on any given night, any team could beat any other team. There are a plethora of incredible players and a historic amount of good-to-great teams. If you’re not watching the NBA right now, you’re truly missing out.
Additionally, there’s a mind-bottling…
…amount of star power right now in the NBA. Out of those 12 teams I listed as contenders, every single one of those teams has “a guy”. “A guy” is someone who is must see TV on any given night.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on Boston are both unbelievable 2-way players who carried a young Celtics team to the Finals last year.
Giannis and KD on the Bucks and Nets, respectively, are both all-time greats.
Not to mention KD’s teammate in Brooklyn – Kyrie Irving, who despite his many faults, is one of the more fun players in NBA history to watch with the ball in his hands.
Then you have Ja Morant on the Grizzlies, who is probably the most electric guy to watch in the Association night to night.
Donovan Mitchell, surrounded by the most talent he’s had in his career, just scored 71 points in a single game…
New Orleans’ might have the deepest roster in the league, led by a guy named Zion Williamson.
The 76ers with Embiid and Harden. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a pic of them at the free throw line together.)
Luka Doncic is a generational talent.
Two time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George lead a very deep Clippers team.
Devin Booker and Chris Paul on the Suns.
And obviously the incredible Steph Curry leading the Warriors.
I point all of this out to say:
In 2023, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets might be the best of them all.
Jokic is having another all-time great season, currently averaging a near 25 point triple double on over 60% shooting. Unreal. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Jokic is having one of the greatest individual 3 year stretches in NBA history.
Unfortunately, the Joker’s past two MVP seasons have been bogged down in the playoffs by a combination of injuries, and a subpar roster. This year, the Nuggets are healthy and have by far the best roster of the Jokic era.
To give you an idea of how extreme the Nuggets roster transformation has been, consider the guards that Jokic has gone into the playoffs with the last 2 years:
In the 2021 playoffs, the Nuggets guard rotation consisted of Monte Morris, Will Barton, Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers, and Markus Howard.
In the 2022 playoffs, the Nuggets guard rotation consisted of Monte Morris, Will Barton, Bones Hyland, Austin Rivers, and Bryn Forbes.
Where are these guys now? Well…
Monte Morris and Will Barton got traded to the Wizards. Morris is averaging 9.8 points/game and Barton is averaging 7.7 points/game. Both are playing below average defense.
Facu Campazzo and Markus Howard are no longer in the NBA (not by choice).
Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes left in free agency for the Timberwolves. Rivers is averaging 5.3 points/game. Forbes is averaging 3.2 points/game.
The only holdover is Bones Hyland, who was a late first round rookie last year…
Denver replaced Monte Morris, who is a good backup point guard that was forced to start, with a finally healthy Jamal Murray, who post-injury, is looking more and more like the superstar we saw in the bubble.
Nuggets replaced the past-his-prime Will Barton with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is nearly averaging 12 points/game, shooting 48% from 3 (good for 2nd in the entire league), and continuing to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. KCP also has playoff DNA, contributing heavily to the 2020 Lakers Bubble championship.
Replacing Austin Rivers and Brynn Forbes, and giving Jamal Murray and KCP relief off the bench, is a combination of Bruce Brown, 2nd year Bones Hyland, and rookie Christian Braun.
Bruce Brown has been the perfect fit with the Jokic offense, essentially being the Nuggets swiss army knife, playing both guard spots and some small forward when the situation calls for it. He’s also shooting above 40% from 3 and playing great defense. Another guy who’s already excelled in the playoffs (with the Nets) during his young career.
Bones struggled to begin his sophomore year, but his offense is finally picking up these last few games, which is scary for the rest of the league. His defense is terrible, which may limit his playoff minutes, but he’s the one guy on the bench who can score at will. He’s Jordan Poole-esque with the ball in his hands, which we found out last year is a valuable thing to have when the bench scoring goes cold.
And finally Christian Braun, the rookie from Kansas, is already an excellent NBA defender. His playing time right now is inconsistent because of his first year status, but Braun has all the makings of a future starting caliber guard. There’s a compelling argument CB might already be the best defender on the team…That’s how good he is on that end of the floor.
This should all add up to major excitement among Nuggets fans. It’s arguably the most talented Nuggets roster ever, and currently might be the best overall roster in the entire NBA.
So yes, the NBA is the most talented it’s ever been.
But Denver has the most talented player in the league.
Combine that with a perfectly constructed roster (I haven’t even mentioned the Nuggets 3rd and 4th best players, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr.)…
And anything could happen.
So don’t take this era of Nuggets basketball for granted.
These are the golden years.