Yesterday, the Denver Nuggets signed veteran wing Justin Holiday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Holiday isn’t going to replace everything that departing free agent Bruce Brown did with the Nuggets, but he helps complete Denver’s roster with wing depth, shooting, and a bit of defense.

Now, the Nuggets have 16 players they’ve committed to, though it’s unclear whether the two second round picks (Jalen Pickett and Hunter Tyson) will be full-time roster spots or two-way contracts. It’s assumed that Pickett will be the former and Tyson will be the latter, but that isn’t set in stone. If that happens, then the Nuggets will have one more full-time roster spot and two-way contract they can add to the depth chart.

The Nuggets depth chart likely isn’t complete, but the full picture is beginning to take shape. The starters were already in place, but the bench lineup was a bit of a mystery and will likely continue to shift throughout the upcoming season. Still, the pieces appear to be in place, and it’s time to project Denver’s depth chart after the Holiday signing was announced yesterday:

Point Guard

  • Starter: Jamal Murray
  • Backup: Reggie Jackson
  • Depth: Jalen Pickett, Collin GIllespie

Every starter in the rotation is set, and this one is rather definitive. Jamal Murray showed improvement throughout the regular season in his journey back from a torn ACL suffered in 2021. He ended up playing 65 games, averaging 32.8 minutes, 20.0 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game on roughly average efficiency. All of those numbers rose in the playoffs as Murray once again raised his game in the brightest moments, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Nuggets were wise to maintain faith in him.

By the end of last season and throughout the Denver Nuggets playoff run, Bruce Brown had supplanted Reggie Jackson as the primary backup at point guard. Now with Brown gone and Jackson re-signed, the Nuggets will turn to the 33-year-old veteran point guard to lead the second unit. Jackson’s efficiency and impact numbers were poor upon arriving in Denver, but the Nuggets are hoping a championship run, off-season, and training camp will help integrate Jackson into a more consistent role backing up Murray.

Finally, Jalen Pickett and Collin Gillespie are set to duke it out for the third point guard spot. Both will appear in summer league during the next two weeks, and each brings something unique to the table. Pickett, a 23-year-old rookie, is more of a traditional point guard, stronger with the ball and a better passer. Gillespie projects to be a better shooter and scorer though is returning after missing a full year with a broken leg. Whether either Pickett or Gillespie can push Jackson for the backup role to Murray remains to be seen.

Shooting Guard

  • Starter: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Backup: Christian Braun
  • Depth: Julian Strawther

Two-time championship veteran Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns to the Nuggets starting lineup as the sage role player on the wing. Caldwell-Pope’s efficiency as a shooter, consistency as a defender, and impact as a vocal leader were all on display throughout the Nuggets playoff run last season. His ability to consistently space the floor (shot 42.3% from three in regular season and 38.0% in the playoffs) allowed the Nuggets stars to operate in the middle of the floor, and the DHO action that Caldwell-Pope consistently ran with Nikola Jokić proved to be a staple within the Nuggets offense. KCP will once again defend the strongest lead guards on the opposition this year and help Denver’s defense stay the course.

Christian Braun is the primary backup and heir apparent to Caldwell-Pope. Braun’s defense last season was at a high level for a rookie guard, and the Nuggets know how important he will be in the upcoming season. It’s expected that Braun will become Denver’s sixth man this year in place of Bruce Brown, playing both shooting guard and small forward as a complementary player to the Nuggets starting group. Braun still has improvements to make though. He had a positive plus-minus in just 29 of the 76 games he played last year and must continue to make progress as a shooter, ball handler, and playmaker for others if he wants to play a significant role.

Incoming first round pick Julian Strawther, drafted 29th overall out of Gonzaga, is likely to fill in as the depth piece here. Strawther is a better shooter than Braun, but he has a long way to go as a defender and reading the game. There’s a possibility that the Nuggets find more time for Strawther at small forward next to Braun depending on what the Nuggets bench needs. For now, he slots in as the third string and isn’t expected to be a major contributor.

Small Forward

  • Starter: Michael Porter Jr.
  • Backup: Justin Holiday
  • Depth: Peyton Watson

Small forward has long been a question mark for Denver, but after Michael Porter Jr. played a full season as the starter (82 games of regular season + playoffs) without an incident, the Nuggets can approach this year with some confidence. MPJ will return as the starter after averaging 17.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, Porter wasn’t as efficient (13.4 points on 54.1 TS%) but he showed significant improvement as a rebounder (8.1 per game) and defender (110.6 D Rating with Porter on the floor). If Porter can capitalize on those improvements while developing as an offensive player, there’s another level to his game and his impact.

Behind Porter is where the debate begins. I currently have newcomer Justin Holiday slotted ahead of Peyton Watson on the depth chart, something Nuggets fans will hate. Holiday is a pure role player, spacing the floor as a career 36% three-point shooter on the offensive end and taking on tough perimeter defensive assignments. He’s 34 years old, but he played 700+ minutes last year between stops with the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. Neither destination worked out, but it’s possible that wasn’t about Holiday. In the three previous seasons combined, Holiday averaged 27.7 minutes per game for the Indiana Pacers and was a solid defender and floor spacer. The Nuggets will likely trust Holiday’s experience at the beginning of the season to help get the team off the ground in October and November.

Battling for that backup spot is 20-year-old Peyton Watson, who has 186 minutes to his entire career so far, the vast majority of those coming in the final six games of the regular season. How much those games mean for his standing in next season’s rotation is a mystery. The Nuggets would clearly like to see him develop as fast as possible given the loss of Bruce Brown, but Watson may not be ready for a full-time rotation role on a championship contender. The addition of Holiday gives Watson a little time to breathe, but given that Holiday is 34, it’s likely that Watson will still find pockets of rotation time at the very least. If his development goes well, perhaps he supplants the veteran in the rotation when it’s all said and done.

Power Forward

  • Starter: Aaron Gordon
  • Backup: Vlatko Čančar
  • Depth: Hunter Tyson

Power Forward is where Aaron Gordon has found a home within the Nuggets rotation. Gordon ranked second in the entire NBA in net rating during the regular season behind Nikola Jokić and led the NBA in net rating during the playoffs. His impact cannot be understated, constantly shouldering tough defensive matchups while adapting his game to what the Nuggets need offensively. Gordon’s numbers will never look like an All-Star while he’s in Denver, but he provides that all-world impact in a role that is perfect for him, ducking in against mismatches in the post, splashing corner threes in crucial situations, and doing everything defensively. He’s the Nuggets starter at power forward for the foreseeable future.

Backing up Gordon will be Vlatko Čančar. With Jeff Green going to the Houston Rockets this off-season, there’s a clear pathway for Čančar to fill a consistent role for the first time in his NBA career. Last season, Čančar set career highs across the board by playing 60 games. In the nine games Čančar started, the Nuggets went 6-3 with Čančar averaging 25.0 minutes, 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while maintaining a 64.6 TS%. Two of the losses were without Nikola Jokić, too. It’s pretty clear that Čančar, as long as he can stay healthy, is good enough and impactful enough to fill a role in Denver’s second unit.

Behind Čančar, 37th overall draft pick Hunter Tyson is likely to accept a two-way contract. He’s a strong perimeter shooter with rebounding instincts, though a lack of athleticism could hold him back at the next level. He’s a prototypical stretch four in my eyes, which makes him a reasonable plug-and-play option as long as he’s hitting his outside shots. After turning 23 in June, we will see how NBA ready the Clemson product is.


  • Starter: Nikola Jokić
  • Backup: Zeke Nnaji
  • Depth: DeAndre Jordan

There aren’t a ton of questions at the starting center spot, that’s for sure. Nikola Jokić is pretty good. What a luxury.

Backup center is where things get interesting. At the moment, Zeke Nnaji is penciled in. He played 728 minutes last year, though he soaked up plenty of garbage time minutes across his 53 games played. The numbers with Nnaji at center are polarizing. With Jamal Murray as his primary point guard, the minutes with Nnaji at backup center were good. With Bones Hyland as the primary point guard, the numbers were horrible. With Reggie Jackson at point guard, the numbers were better than I remember on both ends of the floor. Nnaji doesn’t get a lot of credit for holding up as a small ball center, but his ability to switch and guard in space — deterring opponents from getting to the rim — was really impressive last year. Perhaps a contract year will be the right motivation for him to play his best basketball.

Finally, DeAndre Jordan returns and will reprise his depth role. Jordan began last season as the backup center and had some moments filling in during the playoffs for brief stretches. The majority of his time was spent as a bench leader though, helping to guide the Nuggets through the regular season and playoffs. Jordan was credited consistently for his veteran presence, and it’s little wonder the Nuggets brought him back to reprise a similar role. Expecting Jordan to impact bench lineups is a bridge too far, but the Nuggets will be a better team with Jordan on the roster.