Nuggets Journal: 10 stats that define Denver’s 2023-24 regular season

Cheers to the end of the regular season, Nuggets fans. Before the playoffs get started next weekend, here are 10 stats that have defined the first 82 games of Denver’s title defense. Maybe, just maybe, some of these will be relevant down the road.

Note: Stats are as of Friday, before Denver’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

130: Nikola Jokic’s career triple-double count after 25 more this season. As of Friday, he was eight away from catching Magic Johnson for third-most in NBA history. Jokic is fifth in total points this season, third in total rebounds and second in total assists. He is on a collision course with a third MVP award in four years, elevating him even higher into the echelon of all-time great basketball players. He’s averaging 101.3 touches per game this season, 10 more than anyone else in the league, and 74.9 passes per game, three more than any other player. There are teams that depend on one individual to an extreme extent. No team orbits around an individual like the Nuggets.

16-1: The Nuggets’ record when Jamal Murray scores 25 or more points. They are 13-10 when he doesn’t play, and 8-9 when he plays but scores 17 points or fewer. Those circumstances account for 80% of their losses. It’s pretty simple and has been for years: Murray’s availability and scoring impact are enough to raise Denver’s ceiling from playoff- to championship-caliber. He’s having a career-best season in field goal percentage (47.9%), 3-point percentage (42.4%), assists per game (6.6), rebounding percentage (6.5%), usage percentage (27.1%) and turnover ratio (8.1). On his current trajectory, the 65-game rule is the only thing holding him back from finally achieving All-Star or All-NBA next year.

1: Number of games missed by Michael Porter Jr. He has appeared in more games than any other Denver starter and played more minutes than anyone on the roster except Jokic. That might have seemed impossible as recently as two years ago, after Porter’s third back surgery. He set a career high for games played in 2022-23 with 62. He has shattered that personal record this season. That he has become a model of durability, leg brace and all, is truly remarkable.

87: Shots blocked by Peyton Watson. The pseudo-rookie ranks 15th in the NBA in total blocks. Why is that impressive? Well, he’s a 6-foot-7 wing in a bench role. It’s his first season as a rotation player in the NBA. Thirteen of the 14 players with more blocks than him are 6-10 or taller. The 14th is Scottie Barnes, another young wing … who has played 646 more minutes to earn just one more swat. The only non-centers in Watson’s shot-blocking stratosphere are Barnes, Kevin Durant (90) and Derrick White (tied with 87). Durant has played the seventh-most minutes in the league. White is 36th in minutes. Watson is 189th.

39.5%: Aaron Gordon’s defensive field goal percentage since the All-Star break. The Nuggets went into the break on a three-game skid, with exhausted legs. Since then, 178 players in the league have defended 200 or more shot attempts. Gordon (271 FGA defended) is the only one holding opponents to worse than 40%. Nicolas Batum, Anthony Edwards, Maxi Kleber and Jalen Suggs are the only other players with a DFG% of 41% or lower in that span. Gordon’s defense has been critical to Denver’s surge toward the No. 1 seed.

19.9: The Nuggets’ free throw attempts per game, ranking second-fewest in the league. (Congrats, Charlotte.) Their style of offense isn’t particularly conducive to drawing fouls, but Jokic’s frustration with no-calls became a significant storyline early in the season when he was ejected twice. But here’s why this number is important: Data shows that NBA referees have suddenly swallowed their whistles in the second half of the season, after league-wide grousing over the steady erosion of defense reached a fever pitch. Players aren’t getting bail-out trips to the line anymore for veering into helpless defenders on drives. That’s fine with Denver. Common sense says the stark officiating change benefits the Nuggets, who rank seventh in offensive rating without depending on free throws. The tendency is for whistles to decrease even more in the playoffs.

62.6: Average number of 3-pointers attempted in a Nuggets game. On offense, they rank last in the league in 3-point attempts at 31.1. (Consider that combined with the free throw stat: This team’s reliance on 2-point range makes it a true throwback.) And at the opposite end of the floor, opponents take 31.5 per game, partially a product of Jokic’s at-the-level pick-and-roll coverage with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fighting around screens. Only the Pacers allow fewer outside attempts. It’s a fascinating discrepancy from the best team in the East, the five-out offense of the Celtics. Which style wins in a series? Here are two sneakily high-percentage 3-pointers for Denver: Caldwell-Pope in the right corner (49.2%) and Christian Braun above the break (43%).

#Nuggets #Journal #stats #define #Denvers #regular #season

Leave a Comment