2022 Orlando Magic Playoff Lessons: Denver Nuggets’ depth was stretched to breaking point

In the middle of the MVP debate between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, an important point about both players got lost — but most especially about Jokic and likely why he ended up winning the debate and the MVP trophy.

Jokic was doing a lot on his own. Like a lot.

The Denver Nuggets knew they would be short-handed this season. Jamal Murray was still nursing a torn ACL and while there were some hopes he could return by the end of the season, that was always going to be a hope.

Then Michael Porter Jr. got hurt, playing only nine games this season before a back injury ended his season.

That left Aaron Gordon, freshly signed to a new extension, as the team’s second-leading scorer. He no longer was playing the fourth-guy, defender/slasher role that gave him a lot of success when he arrived in Denver. Instead, Gordon was back to playing the way the Orlando Magic asked him to.

The Nuggets were already being stretched thin. Asking them to be deep in the face of all this is a tall order. Few teams would be able to survive that kind of hardship — even really good ones like the Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic turned in an MVP season carrying the Denver Nuggets to the postseason. But the Nuggets had a depth problem all season, an important reminder for the Orlando Magic as they build.

But all that burden to…

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