Denver Nuggets: Grading Their Front Court Through Three Games

Oct 31, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) takes a shot for a basket over Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) in the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 31, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) takes a shot for a basket over Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) in the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets have competed in every single game this season, and they do it by the immense presence of their front court depth and excellence.

While the Denver Nuggets have lost two of their three games, their front court presence has certainly proved to be a pivotal point of their offensive and defensive game plan.

The Nuggets, as of right now, have had Kenneth Faried (the Manimal), Nikola Jokic (Big Honey), and Jusuf Nurkic (the Bosnian Beast) in their front court rotation. With that said, they certainly will be welcoming Darrell Arthur back into the rotation.

Believe it or not, Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler could also be considered in this front court rotation. Two of the Nuggets top five lineups consists of Chandler and Gallinari. This could be a big step in the right direction for a permanent Nuggets small ball lineup. But, for this articles, will they be counted? No, just because their natural positions are not power forward.

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Therefore, without further ado, let’s start to decipher how our Nugget bigs have been doing so far.

Oct 29, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) and Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) battle for position in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Trail Blazers won 115-113 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Kenneth Faried- The Manimal

Stats: 24.6 MPG, 7.3 PPG (37.5%), 9.3 RPG, 4 Steals, 4 Blocks

Strengths: Hustle, Rebounding

Weaknesses: Shooting

Kenneth Faried came in as the savior for the Nuggets in their season opener at New Orleans. With two huge defensive players down the stretch of Anthony Davis, who dropped 50 on the Nuggets, Kenneth Faried has already made a case for his starting role back.

With his energy and hustle, he may have found his perfect fit as the first big off of the bench. It is exciting. It creates a buzz in the arena when the Manimal checks into the game. His high-energy and high pace play has helped created an enjoyable atmosphere for fans and players alike.

I highly doubt that he gets his starting spot back especially with the return of Arthur soon, but the Manimal has been much more of a bench factor than most would assume. For what it is worth, Faried has the Nuggets best PACE outside of Juancho Hernangomes, who has only been in one game.

This shift to the bench has been great for Faried, but it would be nice to see more scoring from him. The Manimal has been the savior for the Nuggets in their only win; therefore that will certainly help his grade.

Grade: B+

Oct 29, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dribbles the ball between Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) and guard C.J. McCollum (3) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic- Big Honey

Stats: 25.9 MPG, 13.3 PPG (52.9%), 9.3 RPG, 12 Turnovers, 4 Steals, 1 Block

Strengths: Shooting, Soft Touch

Weakness: Defense, Consistency

Nikola Jokic also known as Big Honey, the Joker, or the Serbian Sensation has been outstanding so far this season, but he has had his down games.

Nikola Jokic broke national news after his eruption against Team USA in the Olympics, and now the excitement may be starting to fade. Jokic has had one eruption so far this season when the Nuggets played Blazers. That game Jokic put up 23 points and 17 rebounds. Besides that game, Jokic has not scored over 15 points or secured over 10 rebounds in another game.

This could potentially be a problem for the Denver Nuggets because they need that consistent threat for him.

Of the nine rotational players, Jokic has the worst net rating and the worst AST/TO ratio. So far Jokic also has the worst TO rate and the second worst PACE.

What do these all mean? Is the Jokic parade over?

No, the Jokic parade is not over, but he does need to perform better. The tag team duo of him and Nurkic that has started every game could also be hindering his numbers from being better.

So far, I have personally not been impressed by Jokic.

Grade: B-

Oct 29, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) dribbles the ball as Portland Trail Blazers forward Mason Plumlee (24) defends in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jusuf Nurkic- The Bosnian Beast

Stats: 28.9 MPG, 16.0 PPG (50%), 12.0 RPG, 7 Blocks, 3.3 +/- Per Game

Strengths: Post presence, scoring, defense

Weakness: Shooting, efficiency

This one will be a big shorter because their is no much to dislike about Nurkic. Nurkic has proven to be a powerhouse on the defense end and in the paint on the offensive end. He has already posted career-highs in points and rebounds this season.

He leads the Nuggets in rebounds, blocks, rebound percentage, offensive rating, and player impact estimate. With all that said, Jusuf Nurkic has turned into a critical young member of this Nuggets team. Watch for his development to continue as the Nuggets continue to play through him and his stellar post presence.

Grade: A

The Nuggets have secretly one of the NBA’s best front courts, and this will continue to be their bread-and-butter throughout the rest of the season.

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