After a big trade deadline sent Aaron Gordon to Denver we have seen the new look Nuggets team playing their best basketball of the season. Thanks to Aaron Gordon’s surprising defensive versatility and cutting ability he has opened up new lanes for the Nuggets offense and defense. When Gary Harris was traded to acquire Gordon the new lineup opened the door for Will Barton to slide into the SG role.
PG: Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray is having a career year so far matching his assist and rebound numbers from last season while upping his scoring and efficiency. Shooting splits of 48/41/86 are elite especially while scoring 21 ppg. Murray has also shown flashes of improved defensive capabilities even being in the top five of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year ladder one week. Murray is a combo guard whose true position is probably closer to a shooting guard than a point guard yet he makes it work by being a great pick and roll partner for Nikola Jokic.
SG: Will Barton
Will Barton is an elite jack-of-all-trades player who can do a little bit of everything. Barton can shoot, defend, and playmaker enough to fit into any lineup the Nuggets need from him even having the 6’6 guard play PF at some points. While he has struggled with consistency and since the Aaron Gordon trade that hasn’t changed but his versatility has proven to be super important to the Nuggets success. Barton is also the heart of the Nuggets team culture being the longest-tenured player now that Gary Harris is gone. As an oversized guard Barton is likely going to be guarding opponents’ best guards. Barton himself has said that he feels most comfortable playing the SG spot so hopefully, he can continue to mesh with the rest of the starters.
SF: Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. has emerged as an elite player this season. Now in a starting role, he has shown he can be a 20/10 player while also shooting the ball with ridiculous efficiency. The second-year forward is currently averaging 17 points on 53/45/75 shooting splits. Porter has also shown vast improvements to his defensive game and as a 6’10 wing, he still has a lot of potential to get better. Porter is also currently sitting at the fourth-best offensive rating, (with a minimum of 30 games played) ahead of superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Joel Embiid. While Porter is obviously not better than those players his advanced stats show that he can be an elite two-way forward capable of competing with the best in the league. If Porter can continue to improve the Nuggets are destined for the finals.
PF: Aaron Gordon
Then the newest addition Aaron Gordon. Gordon was always solid in Orlando as an athletic forward who could jump out of the gym but over the last few seasons, he has altered his game to a three-level scoring threat and an elite cutter. Now in Denver, he has shown a new side to his game, versatile high quality defending. As the primary interior defender Gordon has been instrumental in the Nuggets last few games showing he can be someone to throw at the elite wings of the western conference. Since arriving in Denver, Gordon has the third-best net rating behind only Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert. Denver’s offense with Gordon and Jokic has been nothing short of elite.
C: Nikola Jokic
Jokic as we all know is having an MVP caliber season with career highs across the board. He has once again established himself as one of the best passers in the entire league. The big man is also shooting an absurd 56/42/86 shooting while scoring over 26 ppg. With big targets like the 6’10 MPJ and the 6’9 Aaron Gordon, Jokic has the best group of cutters and shooters he has ever played with. Another interesting stat is 98% of the joker’s three-point attempts are assisted on to show the fluidity of the Nuggets offense. Jokic has greatly benefitted from the addition of Gordon because it makes everything Jokic does easier. Gordon takes defensive pressure off while allowing the offense to open up more which lets the Nuggets play a higher-paced style.
Overall this Nuggets starting lineup is going to be dangerous through the second half of the season especially with the Nuggets second unit getting healthier we might see Denver climb into the top 2 of the west.