The Denver Nuggets are notorious for being bitten by the injury bug. Paul Millsap broke his wrist last year and missed over half of the season. Years prior, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler missed a number of games due to injuries. However, the Nuggets are currently facing one of the largest roster depletion I have ever seen.
Three Nuggets starters are currently sidelined due to injuries. Will Barton has missed all but two games due to a groin injury he sustained in the second game of the season. Gary Harris is out for around a month with a hip strain. While Millsap is going to miss a month or so with a broken big toe.
Along with the injuries to the starters, some significant bench players are injured. The Nugget’s prized draft picks Michael Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt have not played at all this season due to injuries. Plus, their premier free agent, Isaiah Thomas, is still rehabilitating from his hip surgery. Basically, the Nuggets are a walking injury report that somehow is still at the top of the Western Conference.
While they are only 1-2 since the injury to Millsap, the Nuggets pulled off a key victory at home against the Memphis Grizzlies. Will the Nuggets be able to sustain this success or will the injuries get to them?
In a perfect world the bench will continue to produce
Denver has relied heavily on their bench during this injury spell. Juancho Hernangomez, Torrey Craig and Mason Plumlee have helped during their spot starts. However, will this type of production continue?
In all honesty, I think the bench’s production will continue. Frankly, these guys are not asked to start games and become stars. All they have to do is hustle, play defense and listen to Nikola Jokic.
Jokic has displayed the play-making talents of a superstar player. He has the capabilities to raise his teammates production and efficiency to a higher level than anyone can imagine. If Jokic can continue to make smart passing decisions, which lead to wide open shots, then the Nuggets should be in decent shape.
My post-Christmas prediction
I predict the Nuggets will be between five and six games above .500. They have a bit of a rough upcoming schedule that includes the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. Luckily, they get these two games at home which always helps a young, injury plagued team.
If the Nuggets can maintain that type of position, the should be in great shape once Barton, Millsap and Harris come back from their injuries. When those three return as well as Isaiah Thomas, Denver will finally be at full strength and ready to strike.
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