A few games after that, with their top three players all sidelined, backup wing PJ Dozier suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Dozier was one of the team’s best and most versatile defenders.
The Nuggets now sit at 9-10 after losing six in a row. Jokic has missed the past four games, and it’s not clear when he’ll return. With the string of bad luck, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post wonders what the team’s next steps should be.
Kiszla opines that veterans Jeff Green, JaMychal Green, and Facundo Campazzo, all 30-plus years old, are not the future of the team, and coach Michael Malone should trust in Denver’s player development and give the young players a chance to play meaningful minutes.
He states that rookie Bones Hyland, currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, should have a significant role upon his return. He also thinks young forwards Zeke Nnaji (who’s also dealt with an ankle sprain) and Vlatko Cancar should get a chance to prove themselves as NBA players, instead of defaulting those minutes to the veterans.
Here’s more from Denver:
- In a mailbag Q&A for The Denver Post, Mike Singer answers several questions about the team. He says 7’2″ center Bol Bol doesn’t have the trust of Malone, which is why he remains stuck on the bench despite all the injuries. One major reason for that is the lack of hustle from Bol in the few times he’s received opportunities. Singer agrees with Kiszla that Nnaji should get more of an opportunity, and is curious how Lance Stephenson might fit defensively if he gets called up from Denver’s G League team at some point.
- Within the same column, Singer says there’s still a lot of unknowns about Porter’s back injury, but he does know that MPJ is trying to avoid having another back surgery. Both Kiszla and Singer agree that tanking isn’t an option for the Nuggets with Jokic in the middle of his prime.
- The defense has collapsed during the losing streak, Singer writes in a separate article. The team is preaching a defense-first mindset with so many important offensive players out. Singer states that the team desperately misses Jokic’s high defensive IQ and MPJ’s length and rebounding. Malone jokingly said Jokic should receive award consideration for something he’s not known for. “In the last six games, I know for a fact we’re the 30th-ranked defense in the NBA,” Malone said. “And that is a far cry from the defense that we started the year off playing. And that’s why … I think Nikola (Jokic) might be Defensive Player of the Year.”