Can the Denver Nuggets capitalize on a favorable 2022-23 schedule?

The NBA officially released its 2022-23 schedule on Thursday, offering a view of the landscape on Denver nuggets will have to go through throughout the coming season.

In many ways, it looks like Denver will have one of the most favorable schedules compared to many other teams in the league. But even if that is true as injuries and trades inevitably change the contours of this landscape, the more important question then becomes whether the Nuggets will be able to make the most of this softer route and, among other things, to obtain an advantageous placing in the playoffs by the season. end.

According to the NBA schedule app on Positive Residual, the Nuggets have the easiest schedule strength (SoS) of the league’s 30 teams, at .476 (with .500 being average and above .500 being hardest). A caveat to this is that this site’s metric for SoS factors in “not just the strength of the opponent, but also home/away, the altitude of the game venue and whether a team has a rest advantage or not,” meaning Denver’s landing on this most auspicious score is at least partly due to its Mile High altitude advantage. Even so, it still bodes well for a team that will need to make significant readjustments long before post-season considerations even come into play.

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., two of three stars on the Nuggets’ max contract with back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, will return to the team after extended injury absences. Additionally, newly acquired players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown, and possibly even first-round rookie Christian Braun, will also need to be brought into the fold along with players they’ve never shared the court with before. .

Denver is surely hoping fewer speed bumps in the schedule will lead to smoother sailing as this new incarnation of the team acclimates and gels. And that will be especially true in a Western Conference that, by all appearances, will remain fiercely competitive, or become even more so. If the Nuggets are to legitimately compete for the championship, which is their clear aspiration this season, a quick merger will be key.

The Nuggets’ ability to get off to a good start even as the new teammates adjust to the game together, and Murray and Porter continue to return to their previous forms, will be critical in terms of storing up some early wins to help maintain their position at the standings afloat in the final stretch of the regular season, especially as their improved home advantage in Denver raises the stakes on maintaining home-court advantage for as many playoff rounds as possible to make a run deep.

Another indicator that a strong start to the season will be important for Denver is the distribution of schedule strength between the first and second half of the season. The Nuggets’ overall SoS of .476 drops (read: gets easier) to .462 when the range is limited to their first 41 games. But in the last 41, that number rises to 0.490 – still slightly more favorable than average, but much less than in the first half of the season.

Here are some other key elements of the Nuggets’ 2022-23 regular season schedule:

Accumulate mileage: At 49,668 miles, Denver will run the longest of any NBA team, which could serve as a kind of counterbalance to their relatively light SoS.

Heavy for the road at the ends, heavy for the house in the middle: The Nuggets will play 13 of their first 19 games (68%) on the road, including a four-game road trip that will take them mostly East. But that is immediately followed by a 28-game streak in which 20 games (71%) will be played at the Ball Arena in Denver, including one of five games and two of four games at home. And that in turn is followed by another run of 26 games with 16 (61%) played away on opposing grounds. It’s worth noting that over this 28-game home streak, Denver’s SoS will be an airy .428, creating a golden opportunity for the aforementioned early win loadout.

Less back to back: Denver will play 12 games the second straight night, up from 13 the previous two seasons. This is great low-key news for the Nuggets, as they will almost certainly rest Murray and Porter in these games, especially in the first half of the season. Those rest days, in which the Nuggets will have to rely heavily on reserves such as Brown and second point guard Bones Hyland, are another major factor in the importance of capitalizing on a relatively favorable schedule.

Balanced rest days: Speaking of rest, the Nuggets will have 11 games each in which they will either be advantaged or disadvantaged due to their own or their opponents’ rest days between games. League-wide, that puts them in the top third on both points, creating a fair balance — and when it comes to NBA scheduling, when a minimum team can’t complaining that it’s unfair should generally be considered good news. .

National exhibition: The Nuggets will have 16 nationally televised games on major networks, including eight on ESPN, seven on TNT and one on ABC. That’s up from 14 last season, and good for the tenth most in the league. Denver will additionally have 12 games broadcast on NBA TV, bringing their total to 28 games available not only in the national market, but also in their local markets in Colorado where many Nuggets fans have been deprived of the chance to see their favorite team. on their regular cable companies due to the now inexcusable and seemingly endless dispute between Comcast and Altitude, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment’s own regional sports network.