NBA Game of the Week: Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Two of the NBA’s top big men will square off Sunday afternoon when Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets travel to New Orleans to take on Zion Williamson and the Pelicans at 3:30 p.m.
The Nuggets are off to a great start this year, led by the dynamic duo of Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. The Nuggets are 14-7 and currently lead the Northwest division by 2.5 games.
The two-time defending MVP Jokić has been fantastic, averaging 22.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game.
Murray has played well in returning from the ACL tear that forced him to miss the 2021-22 season. Murray’s averaging 17.8 points and 4.8 assists per game.
Michael Porter Jr. has been outstanding in his return to action this year after missing most of the 2021-22 season due to back surgery. Porter Jr. has averaged 16.4 points and six rebounds per game. Although, his status for Sunday’s matchup is up in the air as he has been dealing with a heel injury that forced him to miss Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets.
Aaron Gordon has been a scoring threat, averaging 16.1 points per game. Gordon’s also been a menace on the glass averaging 6.7 rebounds per game.
Rounding out the Nuggets' starting five is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was acquired from the Wizards in the offseason. Caldwell-Pope is scoring 11.3 points per game and has been lights out from behind the arc shooting at a 49.5% rate.
On the opposite bench, the Pelicans have gotten off to an excellent start with a 13-8 record and are currently the leaders of the Southwest division.
The Pels are led by the top pick in the 2019 draft, Zion Williamson. Williamson has struggled with health over his first two seasons, but in year three, he’s managed to stay on the court so far. Williamson is averaging 23.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while continuing to be a match-up nightmare.
C.J. McCollum's scoring has gone down a bit in his first full season in New Orleans, as he’s averaging 18.7 points per game which is the lowest total as a full-time starter. His decrease in scoring can be attributed to McCollum passing the ball more, as he is on pace to set a career-high in assists.
McCollum’s status for Sunday’s game is up in the air due to him dealing with an undisclosed illness; if he can’t go, expect Trey Murphy III to start. The second-year guard out of Virginia has been great off the bench averaging 13.1 points per game.
Brandon Ingram has continued to blossom into a star since being a part of the Anthony Davis trade. Ingram is averaging nearly 21 points per game but, unfortunately, is dealing with a toe injury that will likely cause him to miss Sunday’s game.
Jonas Valanciunas has performed well in his second season in New Orleans. He’s averaging 13 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
On Sunday afternoon, expect a tightly contested game between these two western conference contenders.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.