AskNuggLove: Denver Nuggets Mailbag Roundtable
A tremendous quote from famous 20th century Romanian-French playwriter Eugene Ionesco about asking questions goes; “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. Also #NBAVOTE Nikola Jokic.”
Okay, he didn’t say the Nikola Jokic bit, but we here at NuggLove believe wholeheartedly in the power of asking questions. So much so that we are launching a bi-weekly mailbag series in which our writers will answer YOUR Denver Nuggets related questions.
If you have any questions for our writers, drop the hashtag #asknugglove on twitter or @ us on twitter with your questions. We will endeavor to answer as many as we can in this, our mailbag series.
Which has been the Denver Nuggets’ best win of the season so far?
Kyle Standfield: The best W of the season so far was unequivocally our 108-106 triumph over the Toronto Raptors in front of an uncharacteristically raucous preseason crowd up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Just kidding! In all seriousness, the Denver Nuggets have had a few distinctive victories through the first third of the season. They beat the Bulls on NBATV, obliterated the Blazers after losing to the lowly Mavs and absolutely manhandled the Pacers in London. Truth be told, the victory over the Pacers is probably the right answer here. But for varieties sake, I’m going with Denver’s 123-104 route of the Celtics in Boston as the best win of the season thus far. On the final game of a five game east coast road trip, the Nuggets went into Boston and blew the home team out early thanks to an incredible 24 point first quarter by Emmanuel Mudiay. His absurd individual performance in the first frame had me running around the house like a mad man, and will be something I won’t forget any time soon. The whole team was energized off the back of Mudiay’s first quarter, something that shouldn’t go unheralded considering the game was the last of a long road trip.
Blake Holmes: I would say the November 20th game against the Utah Jazz. This was a big win against a rival of the Northwest division, and Denver won pretty convincingly as well, with a score of 105-91. It also proved that the Denver Nuggets can hang with a playoff team, as Utah has played some good basketball this year.
J.J. Vega: There have been some great wins so far in the season, but I have to go with the one against the Pacers in London. The Denver Nuggets went to the court and absolutely exploded in a way that, honestly, I would’ve never imagined. Putting 140 points is no easy task, and it was a great all around game for every one in the team. The most important thing was that they snapped the 5 game losing streak, so hope is still there for them and I think that game in particular represented that hope.
Mike Wilson: You know, they actually lost the game, but, I think the Malone ejection game against the Brooklyn Nets was the catalyst for the season thus far. I think this is when the players really saw Malone buy in as he got ejected with 7:37 left in the 3rd. This spurred a nearly miraculous 29-point comeback. The fire, passion, intensity and insane fervor that Malone displayed during his ejection resonated with his team. Malone has taken credit for all of the losses; every single one of them. For that reason, it will be Malone that gets credit if the Denver Nuggets turn this season around. Miked Up is #TeamMalone.
How crucial are the next 10 games? If we go 5-5 is it time to make a trade and play the youngest players?
Question submitted by Robert Posthumus (@RobertPosthumu1)
Kyle Standfield: The race for the 8th seed in the Western Conference is so wide open that even if the Denver Nuggets go 5-5 over their next 10, they will probably still be in contention for that final playoff spot. This is tough though, because on one hand I believe the number one priority for the franchise right now is to re-engage the people of Denver. The Pepsi Center has been lacking in atmosphere, enthusiasm and fans these last few years and its a shame. The quick fix to that is obviously to make the playoffs and win basketball games. On the other hand, I understand that NBA mediocrity is a dangerous place to be if the goal is to ultimately contend for championships. To try answer the question though, I’d lean towards playing the younger guys if we start slipping in the standings, be it by trade or rotation changes. One more season sitting at home during the playoffs can’t do any more damage to the crowd numbers and fan engagement than what is already occurring. Plus, playing Jamal, Juancho and co will obviously fast track this teams potential and perhaps in doing so, will bring fans back to the Pepsi Center for a more sustained era of success.
Blake Holmes: I don’t think that anything drastic needs to happen, the only trade that Denver Nuggets needs to make is one that could get them a superstar. That is the one thing the Nuggets have missed since the Carmelo Anthony era, and it would be good to get another star. I would give the younger players more minutes if we go under .500 in the next ten games.
J.J Vega: The next 10 games are extremely important as we are entering the second half of the season. If the Denver Nuggets were to go 5-5, that means they are going to be 20-28, which isn’t THAT bad, but it’s certainly not improving. I still think they have the chance to take that spot in the playoffs and by making them, they can gain more confidence towards the future. Now, we definitely have to give the youngsters more time. It’s like performing a miracle.
Mike Wilson: Colorado sports fans – remember Rocktober of 2007? When the Rockies went on an epic run to secure a playoff spot? Nugget February doesn’t exactly have the same ring, but, we need to go on a similar run to secure the eight seed in the West. #8 Nuggets vs #1 Warriors? Nobody gave the Denver Nuggets much of a chance at upsetting the Seattle SuperSonics in their First Round playoff series in 1994. The Sonics had just posted a franchise-record 63 victories, while the Nuggets had slipped into the playoffs with a 42-40 record. Sound familiar? Who doesn’t believe in a lil Mile High Magic!?
Should Wilson Chandler start or come off the bench?
Kyle Standfield: Up until Mid-December, when Coach Malone inserted Nikola Jokic into the starting line up, Wilson Chandler was the Denver Nuggets’ best player. He did that despite predominantly coming off the bench and I think thats where his skill set is best maximized on this Nuggets squad. The Nuggets featured one of the best second units in the league in the early part of the season and it was a real weapon for Malone. Granted, the starting line-up struggled mightily which forced the bench to pick up the slack, but still, the bench was absolutely amazing when being led by Chandler. The starters ineptitude forced Malone to make Chandler a starter, but with the starting unit now thriving on offense thanks to Nikola Jokic, its time for Chandler to go back to the bench permanently and become the incredible weapon he was for the Nuggets in the earlier part of the season. Kenneth Faried gets my vote as the guy that should start next to Jokic.
Blake Holmes: It honestly depends on the team that Denver is playing. If the Nuggets want to play small ball, yes, throw him in at the power forward position. If not, I think he plays a big role as the sixth man. Gallo has been playing pretty well as of late, and I don’t think that he should be taken out right now. That does not mean that Chandler can’t play a lot of minutes off of the bench, since he could play the small forward or power forward position whenever Denver needs him to.
J.J Vega: That’s a tricky question and I have often discussed it. Chandler’s production off the bench was marvelous. Putting huge games every night that he came to play. He really was putting the team on his shoulders. Ever since he started, the Nuggets offense has run a lot better and more smoother, but his numbers have dropped a bit. And even though the Nuggets have become one of the most offensive teams in the league, they can’t seem to make a huge impact. So, should they keep the offensive pace or should they try to change the system to how it was, running Chandler through the second unit? Honestly, I prefer the second option. The Nuggets bench is very unpredictable sometimes. And I think Chandler has been one of the most consistent players on the team this season. Malone should use that as an advantage and make him come off the bench. He can still close out games alongside Gallinari, which to me is a great combo of forwards.
Mike Wilson: For being our third highest paid Nugget at $11m this year, I’d say he needs to be on the court earning that check but I do like what he brings to the second rotation. With 8 years in the NBA, he brings much-needed experience to our blossoming players, along with Nelson. Malone has made veteran leadership a point following the last Sacramento Kings blow out.
Could Jamal Murray’s limited amount of minutes be affecting the points off the bench?
Question submitted by Blake K (@BucketsBlak3)
Kyle Standfield: Yes, for sure. But as Nuggets color commentator Scott Hastings has said multiple times, it appears Jamal struggles with his own confidence during stretches that can last multiple games. He can put up points quickly when he is feeling it, but he also appears to perhaps over think things at times. It’s understandable, though. He is a young guy, in his first season in the league and is just trying to find his way and get his feet wet. His confidence will come, and when it does, he will force Coach Malone to find him more minutes.
Blake Holmes: Murray is a very streaky shooter, so yes and no. On some nights with more minutes, Murray could drop over 25 points, while on others, he could shoot 2-8 and finish up with five. I do believe he needs more minutes, as he will be good. I don’t believe that is affecting the points off of the bench too much though.
J.J Vega: Yes. Absolutely yes. If we compare the number of minutes that Murray was playing on November and the number he has been playing from December to this day, you can see the huge difference in his production. Jamal can score. And he’s definitely an important piece to the Nuggets roster. So, why not give him more time to develop and learn? Why not give him some extra minutes so he can bring some energy off the bench? This is why we drafted this kid, right? Let the bow and arrows manifest!
Mike Wilson: I don’t think so. Not yet anyhow. Jamal just needs to let the game slow down in his head like most rookies. Obviously, this will only happen with court time but do we sit Harris, Barton, Chandler for him at this point? He needs to show us more with the minutes he has before that happens.
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