The Denver Nuggets were already on the right track before acquiring Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic. After three games in Gordon’s tenure, the Nuggets look even more formidable in their new guise and pose an even greater threat in the Western Conference.
Aaron Gordon made some bold statements right after his debut with the Nuggets, where he scored 13 points in a 24-point victory over the Atlanta Hawks. After his dominant win, it didn’t take long for the 6-foot-6 forward to believe that Denver will be unstoppable when everything comes together:
I don’t see any limitations on this team, Gordon said, via ESPN’s Om Youngmisuk. Looks like we got everything we need. We have depth. It’s like we’re covered offensively and defensively in many different places. As long as we all work together, no one can stop us.
Those are powerful words, considering the amount of blood flowing in the West. Nonetheless, on to the Western Conference Finals, which will surely tip in favor of a Denver team with a gifted superstar like Nikola Jokic at the helm. With two more impressive performances after Gordon’s call-up, the Nuggets may have just proven that their newly acquired forward isn’t playing.
Matt Moore of the Action Network talked about Denver’s dominance in the first three games. The five-man team of Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Will Barton and Jamal Murray has an insane plus-37.9 net rating in 64 minutes. As you can see in the numbers below, not only are they very successful offensively, but they also knock down opponents on the other side of the ball. That includes an impressive 101-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, in which the same unit recorded a plus-31.3 in 26 minutes on the floor:
Nuggets start tonight:
defensive rating: 131.3
Defence value : 100.0
Net : +31.3
Here’s their score after three games with Gordon, 3-0: pic.twitter.com/aRv7a1d14y
– Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) 2. April 2021
According to StatMuse, the NBA ranks first in offensive and defensive efficiency in the NBA :
The Nuggets are 3-0 since acquiring Aaron Gordon.
The Murray/Barton/Gordon/Porter/Jokic team played 64 minutes and scored 48 more points than their opponents.
This 5 man team has the best offensive and defensive stats in the league in this area pic.twitter.com/aCptsoOzOp
– StatMuse (@statmuse) 2. April 2021
Looks like the Nuggets missed the battle of Los Angeles again, huh?
Gordon was essentially the replacement for Jerami Grant, who played well for Denver in the 2020 playoffs but left in the offseason for a bigger role with the Detroit Pistons.
Although he was very inconsistent during his time with the Magic, Gordon could find a niche for himself in the NBA with a defined role with the Nuggets. Everyone probably knows he’s the No. 4 pick in 2015, but Gordon has proven to be a good defender so far. His speed and versatility allow him to switch well and defend guards and elite wings, and his height allows him to defend taller players.
Defense has always been the Nuggets’ biggest problem. They’ve always been a mediocre defensive team with this core, but maybe their fortunes can change for the better if they trade their chips for a versatile, interchangeable defender like Gordon.
In the Western Conference, everything seems to indicate that Gordon will have the unenviable task of defending LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and maybe even Anthony Davis. It will certainly be a tall order, but judging by Gordon’s words, he is confident in the task.
The last three games look promising for Denver so far. Of course, this is still a small sample size, but if this is any indication of what the Nuggets will look like in the near future, they will certainly be a threat in the West.