The Denver Nuggets sit at 18-15 on the season and are currently penciled in as the sixth seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference following impressive back-to-back road wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

The win in Portland improved Denver’s record to 2-5 against teams in their division while a 96-81 victory over the Warriors was the lowest total points the defending champions had scored this season.

With momentum on their side, it is critical that the Nuggets manage to finish the 2017 calendar year on a strong note. The Nuggets’ scribes here at Mile High Sports took a moment to discuss Denver’s remaining schedule and talk about some of the hottest topics surrounding the team.

What do you think the Nuggets record will be at the end of the calendar year?

Aniello Piro: I have them at 20-16. With three games remaining against the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philidelphia 76ers I think they will manage a way to win two of the three based on the way they have been playing recently.

Dev Johnson: 20-16. I believe Denver will lose to the 76ers to go into the New Year, but they should beat Minnesota on the road and Utah at the Pepsi Center.

Brendan Vogt: After an improbable sweep of a two-game road trip, the Nuggets will play three more games in the calendar year. Denver will host the Jazz on Tuesday night
and the Philadelphia 76ers on the 30th, with a quick trip to Minnesota in between.
The Wolves are playing well, and they handed the Nuggets a rare loss at the
Pepsi Center in their last matchup. Given how the Nuggets’ road games have
played out in 2017, this one smells like one final loss away from home before the
calendar flips to 2018. Denver should take care of business at home though against an ailing Philadelphia squad and a Gobert-less Jazz team. Denver has lost both of their matchups with Utah this season and is due for a win. The Nuggets should sit at 20-16 as they head into the new year.

After his standout performance against Jusuf Nurkic, do you think Nikola Jokic has taken the next step in becoming an alpha force on the court?

AP: No, but his performance against Nurkic was certainly a step in the right direction. As the games played continues to pile up, Jokic continues to grow; especially, when it comes to him taking over in games. In the victory against Portland, it was clear Jokic had his sights set on beating the Trail Blazers and Nurkic. He did that and then some. If he can manage to direct some of those competitive juices in all of Denver’s games, it will only help the team moving forward.

DJ: Not yet. I would like to see Jokic have that same aggressive attitude each and every night, not a year later just because of a personal rivalry. He should have that same mindset every time out.

BV: Jokic has the talent to play like an alpha, and we were reminded once again of
what positive effects that can have on this team in Friday night’s win over
Portland. When Jokic is aggressive, good things happen. There is still little
evidence to suggest that he will play with that aggression consistently though.
There is even less evidence to suggest that he even wants to. The truth is that the 22-year-old is somewhat passive. That was seen in the stark contrast to Nurkic’s hardheadedness’ last season as Malone — and his staff — struggled to figure out the frontcourt depth chart. He doesn’t care who starts, and he doesn’t care who is the alpha, as long as the team wins.

Based on his recent play, do you think Torrey Craig is talented enough to warrant a trade to open a roster spot for him?

AP: Yes. Craig has been phenomenal for Denver since he first dawned a Nuggets’ jersey in Las Vegas for Summer League. He is a defensive dream for head coach Michael Malone and has already managed to insert himself within Denver’s rotation with All-Star Paul Millsap hurt. He has earned the trust of the coaching staff and players already. So far, Craig has put forth quality minutes when given the chance to play. He fits the mold of what this team needs moving forward — a versatile defender who can contribute offensively if needed.

DJ: I think that he has, but I do not believe it will happen. Craig’s situation will probably be a lot like the Mike James situation in Phoenix where they allow him to have an opportunity somewhere else. Hopefully, Craig will be with the Nuggets for the foreseeable future.

BV: Malone has made it clear that Torrey Craig is an NBA-caliber player, and he
has certainly looked like one so far. Not only that, but Craig appears to bring a
skillset that Denver desperately needs: defensive tenacity and versatility on
the wing being that he can defend positions 1-4. Keeping Craig would require clearing a roster spot, and that would likely require a two-for-one trade, which could happen. Let’s avoid speculating as to the specifics of any deal here, but Denver should do what they can to keep Craig around.