The Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic are all enjoying great spells of form and they are currently in Playoffs contention but they also have one thing in common; they have all been humbled by the rampant Denver Nuggets in recent weeks.
Beating the aforementioned high flying teams is an indication of the Nuggets’ confidence and it adds more to their current unbeaten run of seven games, which is the current longest streak across the league. Denver are currently the top seed in the Western Conference and are on a mission to make up for narrowly missing out on the postseason schedule last season.
Offensive brilliance in the last seven games has seen them score an average of 111.4 points per game in their unbeaten spell, this also includes a run of 100 plus points in seven straight games. Fox Sports.com also rates them as the third best defensive team in the league, further demonstrating that they have more in their locker as a unit. They have also tallied an average of 36.3 defensive rebounds and 8.6 steals per game in the last seven games. They are the surprise package of the last two months and they have eclipsed many conference favourites along the way.
What makes them tick?
A pass-first star: Nikola Jokic is capable of posting monstrous numbers on a nightly basis, he has all the attributes of a modern day center who can shoot the ball well but his primary instinct is to pass first and make his teammates better. He is the most creative big man in the league and he is always looking to make plays for his teammates, Jokic is currently tallying 7.8 assists per game.
He has also dished out 186 assists in 24 games so far. At this rate he is the fourth most productive player in the league in terms of assists and he is the only center in the top 20 of this category. Jokic has recorded an incredible 28 assists in the last two wins against the Toronto Raptors and the Orlando Magic. His offense is another key strength, he is averaging 16.5 points per game including a hot scoring 37 points performance last month against the Brooklyn Nets. Jokic’s ability to be a creative, offensive and defensive force has propelled the Nuggets to great heights so far this season.
A great supporting cast: In Jamal Murray (17.9 ppg) and Paul Millsap (13.5 ppg, 7.1 rebounds per game) Jokic has a solid supporting cast. Murray has been a great offensive weapon for the Nuggets this season, he tallied 20.8 points per game in the last five matches, with a 48-point game under his belt this season to demonstrate his productive offensive game.
Millsap has had two 20 plus points games in the last four outings, and is also averaged 1.4 steals per game. The supporting cast’s abilities to supplement or, at times, surpass Jokic’s offensive contributions go a long way in terms of making the team less dependent on one player.
An every ready bench: Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Trey Lyles have been great scoring options off the bench and they have contributed immensely to the team’s success. The Nuggets bench is currently contributing an average of 40.3 points per game in the team’s current winning streak.
The bench’s most productive night in their unbeaten run was in November against the Orlando Magic, the reserve unit combined for 57 points with Lyles scoring 22 points while Plumlee added 15 points. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, the bench accounted for 49 points with Beasley leading the way with 20 points while Plumlee added 10 points.
Morris is currently stacking up 9.1 points per game off the bench and he has been an alternative scoring option, which has served the team well, he has recorded double figure points on eight occasions thus far this season. The team’s reserves can stake a claim to be amongst the best in the league and their numbers can back them up.