The Denver Nuggets will enter Friday’s date with the Phoenix Suns without their starting center and best player. While Nikola Jokic has put together an impressive season, he was handed a one-game suspension by the NBA as The Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed. This stems from an incident against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday when he left the bench area during an on-court altercation.
Although Jokic wasn’t involved in the altercation and didn’t actually do anything, the league doesn’t allow players on the bench to leave the area and go onto the floor for any reason. Here’s a look at the incident to give a better idea as to how the situation played out, as first posted by ESPN.
With the Nuggets set to boast an altered starting lineup against the Suns Friday night, we’re going to take a look at the latest roster and depth chart for the team. We’ll also breakdown how the absence of Jokic could impact the rotation.
Nuggets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Suns
|Center||Mason Plumlee||Tyler Lydon|
|Power Forward||Paul Millsap||Juancho Hernangomez|
|Small Forward||Torrey Craig||Will Barton||Trey Lyles|
|Shooting Guard||Gary Harris||Malik Beasley|
|Point Guard||Jamal Murray||Monte Morris|
Impact of Nikola Jokic Suspension
On the surface, Mason Plumlee should benefit the most from Jokic’s absence, as he’s expected to take over the starting center duties and see significant playing time. Paul Millsap has seen a big usage bump when Jokic is out of the lineup this year, going from 20.7 to 29.2, while his points per 36 minutes jump from 17.6 to 26.7, per Basketball Monster.
Beyond that, Will Barton has a very limited sample size of playing this year specifically with Jokic off the floor but has been excellent, averaging 24.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists per 36 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out over the span of a full game.
Finally, Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and Monte Morris are among the other players who see solid bumps in usage with Jokic off the floor. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Barton, Millsap and Lyles also join Plumlee while seeing an increase in minutes.
It’s worth noting that Barton is coming off an impressive showing during the team’s game against the Jazz. He played 30 minutes off the bench while scoring 22 points with nine rebounds and five assists. While he’s slowly increased his workload and production since returning from injury, that performance points to the 28-year-old being back to 100 percent.