The Denver Nuggets were one of the most formidable teams in the NBA. The fans expect to have a bright future in the NBA. The core of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray received instant success in the 2020 season, but injuries caused them to hit a bump in the road during their 2021-2022 run. With Murray and Michael Porter Jr. returning, the starter who may lose his starting job is Aaron Gordon.
Adding Aaron Gordon before the 2021 trade deadline seemed to be the one lacking piece that would catapult Denver to the finals. However, the euphoria of Nuggets fans lasted for a short period. One primary reason is Gordon’s inconsistencies on both ends of the floor. With the acquisition of Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gordon’s starting job could be in jeopardy.
With this nucleus of the Nuggets, the defense has been a constant question mark. Furthermore, they wish to have more players who thrive through the off-ball movement because they already have three ball-dominant scorers in Jokic, Murray, and Porter Jr. That may have been the main objective of acquiring Gordon, but his numbers and production have not been as effective compared to his earlier years.
Shooting is one concern from Gordon’s arsenal. He would prefer being in the dunker’s spot or the elbow where he could possess a mismatch against the opponents. He will need to raise his three-point percentage to the mid or high 30s for defenses to see him as a threat with his outside shooting. As a reliable slasher at the four-position, Gordon’s opportunities will open up more if his long-range efficiency is at a higher level.
Last year, there were many instances of Aaron Gordon struggling to become the secondary ball-handler when Nikola Jokic was on the bench or heavily contained by the opponents. One vital characteristic that someone like Gordon must continue to possess is adaptability to the given circumstances. Whether he will start, come off the bench, or become one of the main guys on the roster, Gordon must be able to adapt.
The reason why Gordon’s situation could be in limbo entering training camp is due to the addition of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown. Caldwell-Pope and Brown are two versatile and two-way athletes who will flourish as role players. The front office realized they needed more defensive-minded individuals so adding Caldwell-Pope and Brown were brilliant moves.
Having either of them in lieu of Gordon diminishes their size at the forward position. But, coach Michael Malone can utilize a smaller lineup against the likes of the Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Clippers. These franchises usually insert one big with four wings, so Porter Jr. can defend the sizable forwards at that position.
The corner three has been a decent shot for Brown. Most of all, he will love all the layups and dunks he will receive by having a generational passer Nikola Jokic on his squad. For Caldwell-Pope, he has proven to be a consistent starter having won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a great three-and-D piece alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With the full core of Denver back for revenge, Malone is ecstatic for their team to compete with the best of the best once again.