2023 Denver Nuggets Playoff Preview


David Aldrich and Andre Brown

This year, the Denver Nuggets clinched the number one seed in the Western Conference, chasing a Franchise first, NBA Championship. Star center, Nikola Jokic, is now a 5 time All-NBA Team center, finishing close to averaging a triple-double. 

The Nuggets are also the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA, averaging 50.4%. They also have an “X-Factor” in Jamal Murray who in 2020 averaged 26.5 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. If he can return to full form coming off of some devastating injuries, the Nuggets’ offense could be one of the best in the league.

Although having the one seed can be huge for the Nuggets, the Western Conference has been highly competitive, in comparison to seasons before. The Nuggets completed the Regular Season with the worst overall record for a team finishing atop their respective conference, since 1978. With teams like the Suns, who have been rattled with injuries all season, as well as recently acquiring the services of superstar forward, Kevin Durant, the Nuggets’ quest for a Championship isn’t all as easy as it looks on paper. 

The 2022-2023 Nuggets roster has it’s flaws. They have a mediocre defense and a bad bench. Since 1996, the only team to not be Top 15 in points allowed per game, that ended up winning a championship was the 2001 Lakers. A team that had the tandem of Shaq and Kobe. This year’s Nuggets team does not compare to that roster. In addition, the Nuggets are very mediocre on the bench and it’s a big hole in their roster. The on/off differentials for Jokic (+24.8) is number one in the league, and he is followed by Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, two players on the Nuggets. This means, when the starters or Jokic leaves, the Nuggets games become closer. If players like DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green receive minutes, there is obviously a problem. Michael Malone and the rest of the Nuggets coaching, needs to either stagger minutes with Aaron Gordon or Jamal Murray so that the bench can get a bit more fire power, or they need to hope young players like Christian Braun can help ensure success. If the Nuggets win the championship, it’s going to be because of the role players, not Jokic.

Team The Nuggets may face:


Kings – Deemed one of this seasons fastest and high scoring squads in the league, Sacramento making its first playoff appearance since 2006, has a lot to prove. With the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Domantis Sabonis leading this team, there is no question whether or not this Kings Team belongs here. It’s about the lack of experience. With Head Coach, Mike Brown, and only a couple of players with deep playoff experience, this team is young and unproven. First Round matchup with the defending champion, Golden State Warriors, will show NBA Fans whether this is a squad ready for a shot at the chip, or just another unicorn team, who fades just as quick as they came. 

Timberwolves – The Timberwolves are coming into the 2023 post-season in bad shape. Star Rudy Gobert, was just suspended for punching a teammate. Another player, Jaden McDaniels, will miss the Postseason after breaking his hand punching a wall. Only thing going good for them is their young bound to be superstar, Anthony Edwards. With the First Round matchup being against the Nuggets, don’t anticipate anything amazing happening. The Nuggets should be able to close the series in a four-game sweep. 

Clippers – The Clippers have an argument to be the deepest team in the NBA, and with the combination of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have the opportunity to be the best team in the west. However, throughout the year the Clippers were mediocre on both the offensive and defensive end. With that said, a big reason for that could be injuries, or the Clippers constant changing of the lineup, or the question of who to run the offense through, or who should get minutes during the playoffs with how deep they are. There are plenty of questions surrounding the Clippers and it’s hard to say how good they will be, but if Ty Lue and the rest of the coaching staff can figure it out, the Clippers are a dangerous team to beat anyone (including the Nuggets).


Suns – When and if healthy, the Phoenix Suns should be Title Favorites. With trio Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Kevin Durant, the talent is their. The question for this team is, will young star Center, DeAndre Ayton step up? He’s one of the weaker defensive Centers in our league getting pushed around, and tends to slack off on the offensive side from time to time. This season though, we did see glimmers of hope for Ayton. He throughout the season was one of the most consistent shooters within fifteen feet of the basket, and with his size, if he can lock in mentally and give his team everything, another run to the Finals is in this teams future. They have a solid bench, and a great Head Coach, in Monty Williams. Staying healthy and focused are at the forefront of if this Suns team can capture eternal glory. 

Grizzlies – Young and scrappy. Those two words describe the 2022-2023 Memphis Grizzlies. They remind you of the “Bad Boy Pistons,” a team known for physicality and draining opposing teams. The Grizzlies play fast on the offensive end, and smother you on defense. With Ja Morant leading this squad, no one questions whether or not this team has it in them to win. Dillion Brooks serves as their heart and soul, frequently calling out anyone and everyone for his team. Even taking shots at the Golden State Warriors. A team they lost to in the Playoffs last year. Jaren Jackson is their old reliable and with a young squad, with their legs under them, should pose as a threat for anyone having to face this Memphis squad.

Warriors – The defending champs carry one of the most deceiving records in the league. The Warriors at home are 33-8, while 11-30 on the road. However, that road record was way worse less than a month ago, and the Warriors seem to have returned to the Finals winning team as they went 4-1 in their last 5 away games. With Andrew Wiggins looking to be back by the playoffs, everything’s coming together at the right time. On top of that, both the coaching staff and the players are experienced playoff winners and could no doubt be the same team they were a year ago.

Eastern Conference/Finals teams – The East has 3 big names (maybe 4) who are competing to win a finals. The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo look the same if not better then they were in 2021 when they won the finals. James Harden and Joel Embiid are looking like the greatest NBA duo in the league right now and feel they can compete with anyone. Lastly, the Boston Celtics had the best record in the NBA and played like it too. You could even say the Cavs are competing with top team stats on both Offense and Defense(top 11 in both categories), as well as a stacked big 4 of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen. All of these teams statistically match up better than that of the Nuggets, and you could make the argument that if any of these teams were in the West, they would be favorites. If the Nuggets make the finals, it’s going to be hard to make a case for them against any of these teams.