It was just less than half a year ago when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dribbled out the clock in Game 5 of the 2023 NBA Finals to secure the Denver Nuggets’ first ever NBA championship.
While it was a historic moment for this franchise, it could also be merely the beginning for this group.
Denver is heading into the ‘23-’24 NBA campaign with its title-winning roster relatively intact as do-it-all forward Bruce Brown is the only major departure among last season’s rotation pieces.
The starting line-up of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Caldwell-Pope is back for another run and what’s scary for the rest of the league is that they are all still on the right side of their prime years. Among these five starters, the 30-year-old Caldwell-Pope is the while Porter Jr. is the youngest at only 25.
The most important player for this team though remains to be Jokic and this is likely to be the status quo for the foreseeable future. The 28-year-old Serbian is going to be in the thick of the MVP race once again and though he is arguably already the best player in the game today, he continues to grow his repertoire each and every year.
Jokic’s ground-based game should do wonders for his longevity as well and it would not come as a surprise if he can maintain this level of play over the next decade which would keep the Nuggets perennially in contention.
Denver goes where Jokic takes them and, barring any major injuries, it is difficult to imagine them going away any time soon.
Another interesting storyline to monitor for this Nuggets team is the continued development of Jokic’s main running mate Murray.
After missing the entire ‘21-’22 season with an ACL injury, Murray fully returned to form by the middle of this past postseason. If the 26-year-old guard can pick up where he left off, an NBA All-Star game debut in 2024 is all but guaranteed and he could even challenge for his first ever All-NBA spot.
His offensive abilities are highly complementary to Jokic’s passing and his skillset is what helps elevate this team from good to great. Once Murray can gain more consistency and unlock another level, this team could potentially go another level higher from great to historic.
With Jokic and Murray leading the way, it will be difficult for any team to stop Denver on their quest to win a second consecutive NBA championship. The Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Phoenix Suns are all coming into the season with revamped rosters, yet it remains to be seen how their newly acquired NBA All-Star level players can acquaint themselves with their new teams.
On the other hand, these Nuggets have the advantage of continuity on their side as the majority of this group has been together under head coach Michael Malone for several years now. Until further notice, Denver remains the favorite to win it all, not just for this season, but for as long as Jokic and Murray are leading the charge for this team.