Denver Basketball Moving Forward

Center Nikola Jokic (right) and Point Guard Jamal Murray (left) celebrate a point.

Center Nikola Jokic (right) and Point Guard Jamal Murray (left) celebrate a point.

Rowen Vincent, Writer/Editor

With Denver securing the number one seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets faithful are hopeful that 2023 is the year the Larry O’Brien Trophy is brought to Colorado. But over the next couple of years, what will the Nuggets look like and what moves will they make to keep Denver competitive? 

The biggest roster tweak the Nuggets have made so far is trading second-year guard Bones Hyland to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for two second-round picks. The 26th overall pick has added twelve points, three assists, and two rebounds per game for Denver, being nothing short of productive. But with Jamal Murray and Bruce Brown both healthy, it was questioned how much playing time he would actually see in the postseason. When asked about trade rumors, Hyland said, “Whatever happens, happens. I really don’t care… I know I’ll be good regardless of what happens”. The rising star could prove very valuable to the Clippers in the future. However, with Denver’s management in a “win now” mindset, it is not hard to see why they were upset with his inconsistencies on both sides of the court. Although Hyland’s potential is indisputable, they are not looking for a project player who will need to develop. 

The next issue is the salary cap. Currently, the Nuggets are about 66 million dollars over the league cap. Big-name players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon take up roughly 80% of the payroll. After giving pricey extensions to MPJ and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, management has shown that they have full faith in the current roster and are unwilling to trade away any more talent. No matter what happens, they are stuck with the 174 million dollar luxury tax for the next few years. With no room to make any major moves in the offseason, the Nuggets could be in a tricky situation if this team doesn’t perform at the level they are expected to. 

And finally, watching the Nuggets play without back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is concerning. Consistently praised for being one of the most efficient teams in professional basketball, one would think they would be able to at least look like a contending playoff team without one player. But in the few games where the Joker has been injured or rested, the Nuggets have a losing record. In the playoffs, let’s hope the NBA’s favorite center stays healthy and this is the year Denver wins their first-ever championship.