3 weaknesses of the Denver Nuggets which can be used against them in the 2021-22 NBA season

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns scores on a fast break layup against the Denver Nuggets.
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns scores on a fast break layup against the Denver Nuggets.

The Denver Nuggets ended the 2020-21 NBA regular season brilliantly, given the circumstances of Jamal Murray's absence due to a knee injury. Nikola Jokic did lead the team to third seed in the Western Conference and past the first round of the postseason.

But even with the NBA MVP on the roster and an efficient scorer like Michael Porter Jr., Michael Malone's Denver Nuggets were swept by the NBA Finals-bound Phoenix Suns in the second round, it wasn't close at any point in the series.

Although the team put up a 47-25 record in the regular season and did not have Murray in the final stretch of that round, there are areas of concern for the Denver Nuggets that could carry on into the 2021-22 NBA season.

Three areas of concern for the Denver Nuggets heading into the 2021-22 NBA season

Having Aaron Gordon spend pre-season with the team and integrating himself better into the mix, as opposed to arriving midway through the season, is definitely good for the Denver Nuggets going forward.

However, there are different weaknesses that were exploited in last year's NBA Playoffs that have to be solved in the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season for the Nuggets to survive without Murray early in the season and even with him, if he's able to return.

Without further ado, let's take a look at three areas that have to be fixed in order for the Denver Nuggets to compete in the 2021-22 NBA season.

#3 Michael Porter Jr.'s defense

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles against Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets.
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles against Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets.

Michael Porter Jr. recently signed a five-year, max contract extension that could go up to $207 million. He deserves every bit of that contract, as his efficiency on offense can't simply be ignored, and he seems to be evolving by the dribble, even with some injury concerns.

But Porter Jr. does not have the gift of playing defense, or at least he has not shown that he can do it. Of course, it is early in to his NBA career as the 2021-22 campaign will only be his third in the league.

Game recognizes game. 🤝Michael Porter Jr. hopped on with @PHEEsespieces and @_ajawilson22 to chat about hoopers, his podcast Curious Mike, and so much more! Listen to Tea with A & Phee, presented by the @WNBA, here:

Most of his defensive struggles, however, seem to have come from a lack of focus, looking from the outside. He's shown in his first couple of seasons that he can use his athleticism and length in a good way on the defensive end, and that's a weakness of the past that can be solved for the Denver Nuggets heading towards the 2021-22 campaign.

His career Defensive Rating is at 111, and it was 112 last year, which was inline with what the team did as a whole, but he can certainly clean up some of the defensive lapses we've seen with certain consistency.

#2 Shot-blocking wasn't great last year, but is also unlikely that it will get better for the Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors

The defensive end was not really an issue for the Denver Nuggets in the 2020-21 NBA regular season, as the team ranked 12th in the entire NBA in Defensive Rating, allowing 112.1 points per 100 possessions to the opposition.

However, the team's defense could really go to another level and even translate into the NBA Playoffs, mainly by fixing some issues, such as individual defense and rim protection.

With Nikola Jokic as the primary big man on the team and being the best player on the roster by far, there is a compromise. Jokic, one of the greatest offensive weapons in today's NBA, is not a great rim protector, even though he is not as bad as a defender as many could think.

Really fun show in which I asked @ByJayKing for a fantasy sleeper for a sponsored segment and his choice was the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic…

While Jokic led the team in Defensive Rating, among the qualified players (those with 1,500 minutes played in the regular season), the team was not good at protecting the rim.

The Denver Nuggets ranked 18th in blocks per 100 possessions with 4.6 and 20th in blocks per game. Bol Bol's length (7' 2'') could be helpful if he works towards that area, but it does not look as if the Denver Nuggets will be denying many shots at the rim next year.

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Edited by Arnav

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