Nuggets Power Rankings Review: Denver praised for strong week

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets, a team with championship aspirations, got a wakeup call after allowing Trae Young to go off for 42 points and 11 assists in a loss to the sub-. 500 Hawks. That result appeared to jolt the team as it responded by playing some of its best basketball of the season with two strong outings against Brooklyn and Memphis to finish the week 2-1.

The Nuggets’ 131-114 victory against the Grizzlies, where they led by as many as 33 points against a team previously on a three-game win streak, showed just how dominant the team can be when clicking on both sides of the court. It is the Nuggets’ ability to secure wins with different styles of play that has kept them in the top 10 of the national media power rankings.

Here is where Denver ranked across the board:

NBA.com: No. 4

What they said: “It's not clear what you're going to get from this team from day to day (take Jamal Murray's last two games, for example), but the bottom line is that they're just a game in the loss column behind the Lakers and they have the best record (4-1) in games played between the 14 teams that are currently over .500, having held their opponents to less than a point per possession over those five games.”

Bleacher Report: No. 6

What they said: “That's just part of the explanation for Denver's strangely inverted route to success. The Nuggets, a top-10 offense in each of the last two seasons, are 9-3 because of their top-five defense. On offense, where a bevy of scoring options and Jokic's facilitation should be producing elite numbers, Denver is below average.

If you're searching for the driver of Denver's increasingly gritty identity, look no further than 34-year-old Paul Millsap. When the Nuggets have needed a spark on either end, Millsap has often been the one to provide it.”

SI.com: No. 6

What they said: “Nikola Jokic doesn’t need to be even a league-average shooter from three for Denver to be effective, yet his current 24.1% mark is proving problematic for Mike Malone and the Nuggets. Defenses are sagging with abandon, mucking up passing lanes and daring Jokic to pull the trigger. A potential antidote: feed Jokic below the foul line. His post-ups haven’t been terribly efficient this season–just 0.85 points per possession–though added volume could get the Serbian star back on track.”

ESPN.com: No. 7

What they said: “They've won six of seven, and it's been a little something different in most of those. On Sunday, it was Jamal Murray with 39 points and eight assists in one of the most complete games of his young career. Against the Nets a few nights earlier, it was stingy defense and balanced scoring with seven players in double figures. That's the unique element to the Nuggets: They don't rely on any one player to beat you, but at any moment, they have a couple of players that can do it anyway.”

The Athletic: No. 7

What they said: “Barton was patient and played the good soldier. He came into camp this year joking about how he didn’t know the starting small forward position was up for grabs. So far, he’s started every game he’s played and shown the small forward position is his and his alone. He’s shooting a career-best 46.2 percent from deep and he’s scoring (14.8) more than Gary Harris (10.2) and Paul Millsap (14.1). The Nuggets outscore their opponents by 14.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and they’re getting killed when he’s on the bench.”

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