Nuggets Power Rankings Review: Denver maintains steady climb

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets (29-13) have valiantly steered the ship during a stretch where they’ve been undermanned, going 3-1 without key starters Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris. Michael Porter Jr., Malik Beasley, Monte Morris and Mason Plumlee have picked up the slack in the trio’s absence and it’s a positive development that the national media has praised the team for. 

Here’s what they said about Nuggets’ this week: 

New York Times Midseason Review: No. 4 

What they said: Denver believes Michael Porter Jr., who finally appears healthy enough to take on a regular role, may provide the jolt the Nuggets need to threaten the Lakers and Clippers — even with Nikola Jokic gradually emerging from his slow start.

NBA.com: No. 5 

What they said: The Denver offense has held up without three starters. The Nuggets have scored more than 113 points per 100 possessions over their last three games. Beasley and Will Barton combined for 58 points at Golden State on Thursday, Nikola Jokic scored 30 points against Indiana on Sunday, and Michael Porter Jr. continues to sparkle. Attrition engenders opportunity.

ESPN.com: No. 6 

What they said: One of the more perplexing things in the previous postseason's seven-game series loss to the Blazers was the random cold-shooting streaks. And it feels less random, because it's been happening again, like in Sunday's home loss to the Pacers, where the Nuggets went 3-for-23 from 3-point range. 

Bleacher Report: No 5

What they said: All you can really ask for from a player in Michael Porter Jr.'s position—coming off a lost collegiate season and, effectively, a redshirt rookie year—are flashes.

Seventeen points in eight minutes (part of a 19-point outing in Wednesday's 100-86 win over Charlotte) certainly counted as one such flash, as did his 18-point, 10-rebound, five-assist effort in Thursday's win at Golden State.

The rangy rookie has made his share of mistakes, but he provides an undeniable spark. Great body control, speed and a knack for finishing awkward shots inside suggest the scoring promise that made him a top college recruit didn't disappear with back problems and heaps of time off.

Sports Illustrated: No. 3

What they said: The MPJ hype is reaching a fever pitch, and rightfully so. Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 16.7 points in just 25.3 minutes per game in his last three contests, displaying the offensive arsenal fitting of a young phenom. The stalled start to Porter’s career appears to have ended. Continued growth will go a long way to helping Denver’s Finals chances.

The Athletic: No. 6

What they said: Jokić will easily make the All-Star squad, despite his struggles to start the season. He’s maybe not quite back to being in the MVP conversation, but he’s building toward it with each team victory.

Yahoo.com: No. 5

What they said: It's also interesting to see how coach Michael Malone finds minutes for Michael Porter Jr. Denver dealt with several injuries last week, which allowed MPJ to step in and step up, as he averaged 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds. 1.7 treys and 2.0 steals in 26.5 minutes a night.

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