After five days in San Diego, the Denver Nuggets have officially wrapped up training camp. They will return to Denver on Saturday night, have a rest day on Sunday, and prepare for their first preseason game on Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Throughout the week, the Nuggets have implemented offensive and defensive concepts, brought the new players up to speed, and helped the returning players improve. During it all, the excitement level has only continued to build. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are back in the building, and the level of belief from this group has only continued to increase.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the biggest winners of training camp, from Bones Hyland to Bruce Brown to Jamal Murray:

Bones Hyland

Outside of Denver’s top level scorers. there may be no player on the roster with more pressure on them than Bones Hyland. With Monte Morris and Will Barton departing via trade and Murray likely to ease into his return, Bones is expected to play a ton for Denver. His dynamic scoring and playmaking abilities will be extremely important for a bench offense that doesn’t have a ton of scoring around him.

So, it was nice to see that Bones was playing exceptionally well during the scrimmage on Friday, bringing a level of seriousness and focus to his happy-go-lucky nature.

When asked after the scrimmage what the key was for the second unit beating the first unit across four quarters, Bones said: “Me just taking over, orchestrating the offense. I got hot scoring, what I usually do, then finding my open teammates, then just that energy. When I have that energy, it’s very contagious.”

Bones has never been lacking for confidence, but after establishing himself during his first season and gaining the trust of Michael Malone, it appears he’s ready to be even better. That’s an exciting prospect for the Nuggets, especially given the uncertainty at other spots from game to game.

Bones appears ready for another breakout, which would make life easier for just about everyone in the organization.

Zeke Nnaji

From yesterday’s article, Michael Malone gave a glowing report on Zeke Nnaji following the first four days of camp.

“Zeke’s had a great camp. Not a good camp. A great camp,” Malone said to media on Friday afternoon. “He’s been playing 5 for us, and I think what that allows him to do is simplify it. I’m going to screen, I’m going to roll. I’m going to defend, I’m going to rebound, I’m going to run.”

Nnaji appears to be on a mission after the way last season wrapped up. He was forced out of the rotation due to a nagging knee injury and never made it back into the rotation. In response, he bulked up over the summer and spent the entire offseason in the gym getting better. The work appears to have paid off.

The Nuggets organization remains high on Nnaji and his future with the team. The third year big man is still just 21 years old and has already shown off a perimeter skill set that makes him an intriguing postseason player. Now that Nnaji looks to have added some big man fundamentals to his game (rebounding, defensive anchor, screening, finishing around the rim) he looks like a complete option for the second unit.

With veterans Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan also pushing for playing time with the second unit, it remains unclear just what role Zeke will play. In my estimation though, he’s the best, most impactful player of the three and should therefore play the most minutes. Before the season, I projected Nnaji would average roughly 19 to 20 minutes per game off the bench as Denver’s third big. That may have seemed aggressive before, but it feels close to the truth at the moment.

If Nnaji steps up and can credibly anchor the second unit when Jokić sits, the Nuggets will be an incredible team.

Bruce Brown

While some of the other newest members of the team also stood out this week, it was Bruce Brown to me that generated the most excitement after a strong week.

Brown spoke to media about being willing to fill any role, including doing the dirty work on both ends of the floor. I asked him about whether he thought him screening for Jokić or Jokić screening for him would be better, and he didn’t hesitate to volunteer himself as the screener. His ability to screen, cut, and finish in the paint will be extremely useful heading into the regular season. The mere idea of him screening for Jokić and cutting to open space is exactly how the Nuggets can be an elite offense next season.

In addition, Brown stood out during Friday’s scrimmage for his defense, battling with Murray on the perimeter and picking off a pass for an easy layup in transition. Malone has been very complimentary of Brown’s defensive skills against some of the best players in the NBA. As a result, Brown’s likely to have a large role going forward.

Jamal Murray

The Nuggets organization had seen Murray playing and getting ready for training camp for a long while before the week in San Diego. They knew he looked good. Still, there was some hesitance to declare that he was all the way back from the knee injury he suffered nearly 18 months ago.

Now, with a full week of practices under his belt, Murray is one step closer and one step more confident than before.

There have been little victories along the way for Murray as he has progressed through injury rehab. From standing up for the first time, to running, the dunking, to lateral movement, and now to the minimization of soreness and pain, there’s a lot to be thankful for throughout this process. Murray has taken the time to celebrate those little victories, and as a result, he’s that much more ready to get back on the court.

The Nuggets didn’t rush him back. They certainly could have used him in the playoffs last season, but there just wasn’t enough time for him to get to the place he needed to be to feel completely comfortable. Now, he’s just about there, showcasing his burst, lateral quickness, and unflappable confidence.

The final step before the regular season begins on October 19th is to get some live game action under his belt. Monday, October 3rd is Denver’s first preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They will have four more on the 7th against Chicago, the 10th against Phoenix, the 12th against the LA Clippers, and the 14th against Golden State. Expect Murray to play in at least three of the five, though which games specifically is unclear.

Once Murray gets to see how his knee feels in some exhibition games, it should be the last little bit of confidence he needs before stepping on the court for the season opener.

There are certainly other players that had good showings in camp. That Jokić guy is pretty good. Apparently, Aaron Gordon has fit in nicely to what the Nuggets are asking him to do. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is about as plug-and-play of a shooting guard as one can be. Christian Braun looks like he could positively impact games as soon as Monday.

There are some concerns though.

For one, both Green and Jordan began camp in the Nuggets primary bench unit. Though Nnaji looks to have proven his abilities beyond a shadow of a doubt, there’s still the distinct possibility that he begins the season on the bench and doesn’t play initially. To me, that would be a mistake. The Nuggets need to know they can count on Nnaji to be a playoff contributor, and the best way to find out is to play him early and often. If that doesn’t happen, I will be concerned about the short and long term health of Denver’s bench units.

Then there’s MPJ.

Porter basically made every shot he attempted during camp, but he’s still relatively far away from being the impactful defender he needs to be to stay on the floor in important situations. The health appears to be in a better place, perhaps even better than Murray. Unfortunately, Porter still has a ways to go to integrate himself into what the Nuggets want for him.

The conversation surrounding Porter has painted him as a role player all camp, somebody who needs to become a cog in the machine rather than establish himself individually. Offensively, the Nuggets are running everything through Jokić, which is fine for the regular season. The more responsibility Jokić shoulders in the regular season though, the less energy he will have for the playoffs. That’s been the tale of the last four years of Nuggets playoff basketball.

Murray has shown the ability to rise above the level of just a cog. Perhaps that’s enough for Denver to be successful. Perhaps it’s not, and if that’s the case, then Porter is the other guy that makes sense to take on additional responsibility. Right now though, it doesn’t seem like that’s in the cards, now or in the future.

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Porter having less usage and shot attempts than Nuggets fans are hoping for at the beginning of the season.