Last week we opened up about how regression was the name of the game for the Denver Nuggets this season, and now following the team’s latest loss many are wondering where this team will end up when the dust settles.
At 17-15, the Nuggets are considered a fringe playoff team at this moment in time. Should the season end today, the Nuggets would be the 8th seed in the Western Conference and lined up with the red-hot Utah Jazz in the playoffs.
Following the stellar run in the bubble last year, expectations were set sky-high for this season, and Denver has missed the mark across the board, with the lone exception of Nikola Jokic, who has managed to play at an MVP caliber level despite the struggles of his teammates.
Nearly 50% of the way through the 72 game NBA season, the Nuggets appear to have settled in, and it’s time we start looking and analyzing this team through a different lens.
This is not the same Nuggets team as last season. The team has regressed and is looking to rebound amid inconsistencies on the court. Thursday’s loss to the Washington Wizards was telling of the mental flow of the team at the moment.
The Nuggets dysfunction was on full display as they were presented with a four-on-one opportunity down two points with under 10 seconds left to play. Somehow instead of cutting to the basket, three players stood aimlessly as Jamal Murray picked up his dribble at the free-throw line.
Murray heaved an awful pass to Facu Compazzo, who bricked a wide-open three-point shot as the Nuggets suffered their second loss of the season to the Washington Wizards, who are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
This Nuggets end of game sequence 😅
They were down by 2 pic.twitter.com/Hd2CwjcL1d
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 26, 2021
Denver has now been swept by the Wizards and Sacramento Kings this season, two teams that will likely be on the outside looking in when all is said and done this year. The Nuggets have sprinkled in a few solid wins, but they have been unable to build any momentum off their success, which is why they continue to hover right around .500.
Unless this team makes a significant move ahead of the trade deadline, this season is going to end in disappointment for the team and the fan base. The Nuggets of this season are starting to feel like the Nuggets’ teams of old, with the bubble injecting a sense of false reality regarding where the team stands around the league.
Denver will make the playoffs, but is anybody confident they’ll get past the second round at best? With the way the team is playing at the moment, it’ll be tough for the Nuggets to hang with the supreme talent out west, especially when the Nuggets have failed to beat some of the bottom feeders in the league, at home.
Denver has been ravaged by injuries as well, but are guys like PJ Dozier, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap true difference makers? Dozier is solid, Harris is hurt for what feels like half of every season, and this will likely be Millsap’s last season with the team.
RJ Hampton and Zeke Nnaji have filled in nicely in spurts, but their best days are way ahead of them given their rookie status.
Teams around the league have struggled with the historically short offseason and lack of preseason, so there is room for some struggles, but collectively, the Nuggets just look off, a far cry from the team we all saw play in the bubble.
The happy-go-lucky nature of the Nuggets offense has dwindled. Nothing appears to be coming easy for the team on offense, and nothing has really changed on the defensive end, either.
The team is not lacking motivation, but the boys just don’t seem to be having fun out there, and it’s resulted in some horrendous performances.
Call it a reset year, or an off season, but whichever way you slice it, we have to start looking at the Nuggets in a different light moving forward down the home stretch of the season.