Oct 20, 2021 - Sports
Denver Nuggets open season as underdogs, despite track record
Nikola Jokic shoots a free throw during a preseason game. Photo: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images
Nikola Jokic shoots a free throw during a preseason game. Photo: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets start the NBA season tonight with the league's reigning MVP, a veteran coach, a cohesive team, an exciting rookie and a semifinal playoff run under their belt.

Moreover, Jamal Murray, the team's star guard, is expected to return from a torn ACL injury midway through the season.

Yes, but: Few expect the Nuggets to make much noise this season.

What they're saying: Only three of the 16 ESPN basketball experts picked the Nuggets to make the Western Conference finals and none think the team can make the finals.

  • The team doesn't even land in the NBA's top 10 power rankings from the jump.
  • "If they stay healthy, the Nuggets will be in line for home court advantage in the first round [playoffs]. Beyond that, it will all depend on Murray's return, and expectations should be tempered," writes Ryan Blackburn at SB Nation.

What to watch: Nikola Jokic doesn't mind being underestimated, and he looks ready to defend his MVP status. The question is whether other players can help generate baskets.

  • Attention will focus on Michael Porter Jr. to step up and play consistently in his third season with the Nuggets.
  • The player we can all root for is rookie Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland. He has the energy, excitement and commitment to improve that could help him get playing time.

When to watch: The Nuggets start on the road (8pm, ESPN) against the Phoenix Suns, who eliminated Denver from the playoffs last season, before returning for the first home game Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found

Denverpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more