The Denver Nuggets have been building up for this moment, slowly but surely. So why wouldn’t they be able to battle through the 2023 NBA Playoffs and win a championship?
After all, there’s plenty to love about the team.
With all that in mind, here are three reasons that the Nuggets will win the 2023 NBA Finals.
3 reasons the Nuggets will win 2023 NBA Finals
1. They have the best player in the West, at least
Whether people want to argue the case for Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP or not, there no longer been debate about who the best player in the West has been this season. In fact, since at least the last season, Jokic has been the best player in the conference.
Though that doesn’t guarantee that the Nuggets will make it to the Finals, anybody that’s watched Joker play will have a hard time betting against him.
Like any player, Jokic has his weaknesses. The thing about that is though, that they’re few and far between.
When a player his size (6-foot-11, 284 pounds) is capable of running the offense like a true point guard; scoring like a prototypical shooting guard; has the general all-around ability of a small forward; can kill defenses from the midrange like a traditional power forward; and can destroy opponents with his footwork in the low-post in ways most centers seem to have forgotten?
Well, other teams may just have a problem guarding you.
Said player has also become a more active and intuitive defender over the years. Jokic routinely utilizes his hands and size to come away with blocks and steals, making impact plays.
Jokic, a back-to-back MVP, is perhaps the best European to ever play in the NBA. He plays the game with the type of poise and cognizance once usually sees from players across the pond, where head coaches hold a high sway and young players have to work for everything they get.
2. Research & Development
The development of 26-year-old Jamal Murray and 24-year-old Michael Porter Jr., two of the league’s better players despite have yet to have hit their prime, has been crucial. Yet, the acquisitions that Denver has made over the past three seasons have also been crucial.
To start, Aaron Gordon, the former face of the Orlando Magic’s franchise. The explosive combo forward has become a much wiser player since the Nuggets traded for him in Mar. 2021, leading to him shooting 54.0 percent from the field in Denver compared to 44.7 percent in his Magic tenure. Gordon has also embraced being Denver’s best defender, notable given the number of dominant forwards in the league.
Which brings us to back to Porter, who is particularly useful as a help defender and has taken accountability on that end. Though he may never be mistaken for Giannis Antetokounmpo-like defender for reasons beyond his control, being a smart team defender and focusing on technique has done wonders for a player who once was targeted relentlessly on defense.
The most important thing that Porter brings to the table is his scoring ability though, as he’s one of the best shooters in the league. Shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from 3-point range at 6-foot-10, MPJ hits the type of jumpers that leave people rubbing their foreheads in wonder.
He, in addition to a skilled combo guard in Murray, could keep pace with any player in the league in scoring if they had to. But the beauty of it is that they don’t have to.
3. They have the necessary defenders
Between starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and sixth man Bruce Brown, the Nuggets should be well-equipped to guard the top perimeter players.
Of course, there’s rarely a time that a superstar player gets shut down. The most the best defender can do sometimes is make life tough for their matchup. That being said, that’s exactly what KCP and Brown are equipped to do.
Caldwell-Pope is actually an All-Defensive first team candidate, a testament to his active feet and ability to affect a shooter’s line of vision. Brown came into league as a player who relied on his defense to stay on the court. His energy in contesting shots is necessary for any defense, which should go without saying, but most players simply don’t demonstrate as much effort as Brown.
At 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, KCP and Brown respectively, are the type of guys any team needs to guard a high-level backcourt player or wing. This doesn’t only apply to starters, as slowing down a team’s biggest bench threat is also a great way to neutralize their offensive approach.
That being said, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone will have to be willing to trust rookie forward Christian Braun as well.
Braun, at 6-foot-7 and 218 pounds, doesn’t just have the size that players like KCP and Brown lack. The former Kansas Jayhawks standout has stood out in Denver because of his defensive play, much like the aforementioned players.
His lateral agility and length could be the x-factor in any number of games, but Malone has to be more willing to trust his young players than he has in the past.
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