Denver Nuggets: Playoffs?
The Denver Nuggets have been very hot and cold in the first half of the 2017-2018 NBA season and are still currently in a playoff spot, but will they be able to stay in it?
Currently sitting at 22-21, the Nuggets are barely holding onto the 8th seed in the West. With a 4-6 record in the past 10 games, it is safe to say that the Nuggets need to make some changes if they want to have a chance to compete with the top teams in the dangerous West.
Looking at the first half of the NBA season, there are some great players that the Nuggets need to continue to build off of if they hope to continue to succeed.
The first obvious one is the Nuggets star and offensive focal point, Nikola Jokic. Jokic is leading the team in +/- rating this season (one of the most important stats to look at in my opinion) with a +143 so far. Jokic is also averaging 15.8 points per game, 10.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He is top 2 in all categories and is the firepower behind the Nuggets strong offense.
The second positive to take away from the Nuggets' first half would be the improving play of their young guards. Gary Harris (+134) and Jamal Murray (+99) have significantly improved from last season and are 1st and 3rd in scoring for the Nuggets this season. If these two continue their improved play, the Nuggets have a lot to look forward to in years to come.
The Nuggets' bench has not been as productive as expected this year, which is leading to issues when Jokic, Murray, and Harris are not on the court. The Nuggets main three bench subs Faried, Barton and Mudiay have combined for a -218 when on the court this season. This significantly hurts the team when one of the starters needs a rest.
Injuries have hurt the Nuggets this year as well. The major injury to Paul Millsap took away a huge defensive stopper as well as the 15.3 points per game he brought to the offense. A small injury to Jokic hurt the Nuggets for a few game as well.
Defense! The Nuggets are allowing 105.6 points per game while scoring 106.2 points on average. This is not a great margin to have. A lot of this defensive inefficiency comes from points in the paint. The Nuggets are allowing a NBA 22nd worst 45.8 points in the paint per game, something that must change if the Nuggets look to compete in the West!
Do the Nuggets need to make a trade? Get a new coach? Let us know what you think the Nuggets need to do to continue their push for the NBA Playoffs.
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