Biggest need Nuggets must address in 2024 NBA offseason

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
June 6, 2024

After a stellar regular season campaign, the Denver Nuggets were expected to repeat as NBA Champions this year. All their guys were healthy for the stretch run, but the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves spoiled the party and upset the Nuggets in seven games of the Western Conference Semifinals. After all the championship aspirations, the focus now moves to the Nuggets’ offseason plans and how they can fortify the Nuggets’ roster for the 2024-25 campaign.

Denver will still be a legitimate force next season, but they need to fill in some holes to remain competitive in the dangerous Western Conference. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a player option for next year, so they will need to sign him to a new contract, while Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon will be requesting for contract extensions as well.

With the new salary cap rules and second apron penalties, the Nuggets’ roster will have less flexibility than in previous years. Thus, it presents a new and difficult challenge for their front office to compete with the likes of the Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks.

As the offseason approaches, this is the biggest need their organization must rectify.

Nuggets need depth in the second unit

Denver Nuggets on the bench in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves in game seven of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When the Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Championship, the NBA pundits would continuously harp on the immense contributions of Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. Despite not receiving a ton of minutes, their impact was incredible in the limited time they were inserted on the floor. However, in 2024, the coaching staff pinned their hopes on unproven youngsters to elevate their play in the postseason.

That turned out to be a disaster as Peyton Watson was benched for several games in the playoffs, while other individuals like Julian Strawther and Jalen Pickett did not receive significant regular-season opportunities to have a tremendous impact in the postseason. Justin Holiday and Christian Braun had spurts of brilliance, but that is not enough to dethrone a deep squad like the Timberwolves or Mavericks.

When a couple of players are struggling in their first unit, they can experiment with a few ancillary pieces that are more than capable of exploding. Banking on the ascension of their youthful unit is a plausible approach by the front office, but the Nuggets’ offseason priorities must focus on acquiring reliable names who will complement the style of Murray and Nikola Jokic.

There are franchises like the Dallas Mavericks who acquired Derrick Jones Jr., P.J. Washington, and Daniel Gafford, or the New York Knicks who added Isaiah Hartenstein and Josh Hart. These individuals are not players who will demand a high salary, but they are role players who perform at an excellent level with the particular responsibilities given to them.

Even with the limited flexibility of Denver, they can snag a couple of guys for less than the mid-level and manufacture ways to maximize their talent. Kelly Oubre Jr., Reggie Bullock, and Alec Burks are some of the notable names from the current free agent class who will bolster the Nuggets roster. These guys will not cost a ton of money, and they will be more than capable of helping a championship-contending squad.

The more drastic approach that has been mentioned is swinging a deal involving Michael Porter Jr. to lower their payroll and add several pieces that are cheaper than his salary. Having the ultimate trust in Watson’s development and his ascension as the starting 3 will be tough, so the Nuggets must experiment with other ways first before messing with the chemistry of their starting lineup.