• The Nuggets won the first NBA championship in the franchise’s history last season and they were looking to parlay all that goodwill into another championship run. They replaced Bruce Brown and Jeff Green minutes with Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, but otherwise, their rotations, coaching staff, and schemes remained largely the same. The expectations couldn’t be higher, but ultimately the Nuggets could do no wrong after bringing the team a championship. Nikola Jokic continued to play MVP-level basketball, but would it be enough to handle a league that is ever-changing and outmaneuvering each other?

    How’d It Go?

    It was another successful regular season for the Nuggets, who finished second in the Western Conference with a record of 57-25. The Nuggets clicked all season as Jokic finished as the league’s MVP for a third time in four seasons. They played their brand of basketball, sharing the rock (third in assists), getting efficient shots (fourth in FG%), and securing the rebounds to change the possession and finish out a strong defensive possession (7th in rebounds). Just good, fundamental basketball that was rewarded with a ton of wins.

    Unfortunately, they met a team in the playoffs that was constructed perfectly to beat them. The Nuggets and Timberwolves went seven grueling games with the Wolves emerging as the ultimate victors. The Nuggets shouldn’t be too disappointed in their season overall, but they’ll likely have regrets after blowing a 15-point lead at halftime in Game 7. Still, they were one win (and just nine points) from a Western Conference Finals appearance and likely another Finals appearance had they cleared that hurdle.

    While it may have been a disappointing ending, the Nuggets had surprising luck when it came to health throughout the season. Even guys with extensive injury histories, like Michael Porter Jr., were able to stay healthy though Jamal Murray did miss 23 games on the season. All in all, this was a healthy season for the Nuggets with very little drama.

    Another positive development for the Nuggets, which helped this season and will presumably help beyond, was the strong play of a trio of young players. Christian Braun was a steady force this season, bringing solid two-way play and three-point shooting to the mix. He even managed several double-digit scoring efforts in the playoffs. Peyton Watson was far less consistent, but has inarguably the bigger upside presence in fantasy and in real life with his sky-high physical ability which lends itself to accumulating defensive stats, and the ability to step out and hit a three-pointer, though he shot under 30% from distance on the season. Julian Strawther rounds out the newcomers to the rotation and he had the smallest role to be sure, but his perimeter defense came in handy when Murray was out. He’ll need to iron out his shot to stick, but the appeal is clear.

    It wouldn’t be shocking in the least bit if the Nuggets simply chose to run it back with the exact same team next year, maybe with the addition of a veteran or two on a minimum contract. Nothing is broken here, so nothing needs fixing.

    For fantasy, the Nuggets continue to play a very skewed top-heavy approach, which leads to only a handful of truly fantasy-relevant players with the rest pretty much left in the dust.

    Coaching

    Head coach Michael Malone is about as steady as they come. Malone’s tough approach to the defensive side of the basketball provides the team with a safe floor while the talent on the roster can take it to the next level with their offensive skills. Though he caused some waves with his postgame pressers in the playoffs, it’s hard to envision the Nuggets parting ways with a guy who just secured their first championship. There’s a high probability he’ll last in Denver through his latest extension, which was through the 2026-27 season.

    Malone clearly has a strong relationship with the core players on the Nuggets, and there’s little incentive to change their team makeup which means he’s the best man for the job going forward. The coach sets the tone and the players follow suit. Malone is generally a classy guy who takes ownership of his mistakes.

    The Players

    Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets
    SeasonTeamGPGSMPG FGMFGAFG% FTMFTAFT% 3PTM3PTA3PT% PTSREBAST STLBLKTO
    23-24 DEN 79 79 34.6 10.4 17.9 58.3 4.5 5.5 81.7 1.1 2.9 35.9 26.4 12.4 9.0 1.4 0.9 3.0
    22-23 DEN 69 69 33.7 9.4 14.8 63.2 4.9 6.0 82.2 0.8 2.2 38.3 24.5 11.8 9.8 1.3 0.7 3.6
    21-22 DEN 74 74 33.4 10.3 17.7 58.3 5.1 6.3 81.0 1.3 3.9 33.7 27.1 13.8 7.9 1.5 0.9 3.8

    ADP: 1.2/1.9 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 1/1 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 2/3 (8/9-cat)

    Jokic has “broken the game” in multiple seasons by being magnitudes better than the second-best fantasy option. This is why third round reversal has become significantly more popular in competitive leagues recently. However, that didn’t happen this season. He was still a fine and easy selection at number one overall but his dominance was challenged by Joel Embiid (while he was healthy) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this season. Going forward he’ll also have to contend with Victor Wembanyama who has an insane ceiling that we all find alluring.

    Still, Jokic enjoyed yet another fantastic season with stats in line with the past four seasons, when he sat atop the pool of NBA players in terms of talent and opportunity. Everything runs through Jokic in Denver, and it’s the smartest way to play if he’s on your team. He can be slow and deliberate, but your team is virtually guaranteed to get a high-percentage shot.

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