Nuggets Notes: Jackson, Porter, Caldwell-Pope, Strawther

When Reggie Jackson was waived by Charlotte in February and hit the buyout market, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo attempted to recruit the veteran guard to Milwaukee, sources tell Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. However, Jackson opted for Denver instead, and both he and the Nuggets are happy about how that decision worked out, as Wind writes.

Jackson didn’t play a major role for the Nuggets during the championship run in the spring, but he has been an important piece of the rotation so far this fall, particularly since Jamal Murray went down with a hamstring injury. Jackson scored 20 points, handed out six assists, and was a plus-12 in a season-high 32 minutes during Wednesday’s three-point victory over the Warriors, earning praise from head coach Michael Malone, who said the 33-year-old has been “fantastic for us.”

The Nuggets raised some eyebrows when they devoted their taxpayer mid-level exception this offseason to a player who wasn’t part of their playoff rotation, but Jackson has benefited from spending the summer in Denver and becoming more familiar with the club’s system. Malone believes Jackson “feels so much more comfortable” this season than he did down the stretch of 2022/23 — and one of the guard’s teammates agrees.

“He spent all offseason in Denver when he could have been moving all around,” Michael Porter Jr. said. “He stayed here, learned our offense, and it’s showing. It’s paying off for him.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • A day after exploring how the Nuggets will weather Murray’s absence, Tony Jones of The Athletic says the team showed off its “depth, hunger, and versatility” in Wednesday’s win over Golden State. Denver has matched its best start in franchise history at 8-1 and Porter’s improved defense has been an important factor in the team’s success, Jones notes. “We want Michael to get to the point where that’s the norm for him,” Malone said. “We want to get to the point where what he’s doing is no longer a surprise.”
  • Having already expressed a desire to make an All-Defensive team, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope clarified after Wednesday’s game that he actually has a loftier target in his sights. I got one goal, man, either Defensive Player of the Year or (All-Defensive) First Team,” Caldwell-Pope said, per Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette (Twitter link). “I’m going to continue to push that envelope.”
  • It’s rare for a team to draft a player at No. 29 who is ready to immediately play rotation minutes, but the Nuggets may have achieved that feat with Julian Strawther, Wind writes for DNVR Sports. While Strawther’s 21-point night vs. New Orleans on Monday in just 19 minutes of action has been an outlier so far (he has 20 points in 52 minutes in his other six appearances), the rookie has impressed coaches and teammates for his confidence and poise.
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