Sooner or later, Mike Malone will need to figure something out with his Denver roster. With all the injuries and absences of players in the bubble, there have been numerous players who have stepped up in a monster way, dominating both sides of the floor.
Denver has been without Gary Harris and Will Barton since the beginning of the NBA restart. The energy both players bring to the team is a major key in their success over the past two seasons. Since their absence, there have been other huge components who have stepped in and took care of business through these eight games. And while they’ve been playing well, it may turn out that they keep their spot at a starting position as well.
A few of Denver’s role players have emerged in ways that many did not expect. One of those guys has been rookie Michael Porter Jr. After everyone has doubted this kid’s true potential due to his injuries, Porter Jr. has easily surprised the world with his scoring on the floor. His emergence in the bubble has caused him to become a good pairing alongside Jokic and has began to build chemistry playing alongside Jamal Murray. With Porter Jr. being a great compliment on the floor, Mike Malone may just keep him in the starting lineup going into the playoffs.
My NBA Bubble Awards 🏆— Slam Studios (@SlamStudios) August 13, 2020
MVP: Damian Lillard
Defense: Marc Gasol
Rookie: Michael Porter Jr.
Most Improved: T.J. Warren
Sixth Man: Gary Trent Jr.
Coach: Monty Williams
Agree with my picks? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/08oD8FbTLf
Another key emergence has been big man sensation Bol Bol. Although 44 teams passed up on the talented Center, it seems as if Denver has been the perfect home for the rookie. The Nuggets patiently waited for Bol Bol to rehab from his foot injury to finally showcase his talent during the NBA restart.
Bol Bol looking like a 7'2" point guard 😳 pic.twitter.com/YkGyeyghEW— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 11, 2020
Bol Bol has really shown his versatility in this bubble. He has done an excellent job spacing the floor on offense and has been absolutely must watch basketball running the fastbreak. Going into the playoffs, Bol Bol can be a huge weapon for the Nuggets on both ends of the floor. His 7’2 frame can be lethal protecting the basket while his ability to run the floor will be important for the offense. Let’s just hope that Bol Bol can stay healthy throughout the Nuggets run for an NBA title. As long as he’s available, Mike Malone will surely give him the minutes.
Those have been the two emerging role players for the Denver Nuggets. But don’t get it twisted? There’s more high IQ players on the team who can make a difference. Guys in Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Torrey Craig, PJ Dozier, and more players that are excellent in this Denver rotation who come in and do their job. If everyone stays on the same page as the playoffs begin, the Nuggets should believe they can overmatch their opponents in the West based on how deep they can go into their rotation.
Obviously it’s difficult to play so many talented players, but the best thing Mike Malone can do is make sure his players remain ready at any given point. In the playoffs, anything can happen as far as injuries or matchups with certain opponents. So for the guys who haven’t played much for Denver in the bubble should just wait on their opportunity. It’s unknown when Coach Malone will need to go deep in his bench. So the importance of players staying ready is great for Denver and their quest to come out of the West.
The Nuggets may not be as beloved as teams in the Lakers and Clippers, but they are definitely a team to keep their eye on for the playoffs. Nikola Jokic will continue to be the X-Factor of the Nuggets going forward. But it will also be up to the supporting cast to provide great production on the court in order to advance. The great production that Mike Malone can get from his other guys mean good things going into the playoffs this year.