List your ideal point guard rotation after seeing the players in action with two sentences to back up your choices.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): I’m happy to be proven wrong about Jameer Nelson starting, it seems like Jamal Murray earned that role and Nelson will be the backup. Murray offers the floor spacing that will elevate the starting unit, and is seemingly up to the challenge on defense. Nelson is a better off-ball guard than Emmanuel Mudiay, and Will Barton will likely have a big role leading the offense off the bench.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): Murray starts, while Nelson comes off the bench. Murray isn’t the perfect fit in the starting lineup, but his abilities give the starting five the highest possible ceiling in the short and long term. Nelson is the steady hand as a backup, and Mudiay will just have to wait until the Denver Nuggets need a change of pace or an injury occurs.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): I think everyone knows where I stand on this but if you don’t: Murray will start, Jameer will come off the bench and I expect the Nuggets will try to cash in what value Mudiay still has and look to move him. Barton also has been initiating the offense quite a bit in preseason so I won’t be surprised to see Nelson or Murray operate off ball a lot when Barton is on the court.
Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops): Murray has to start, with (and I hate to say this) Nelson off the bench. I absolutely love the effort Murray puts in every time he’s on the court. He may have a few kinks to work out, but overall his aggressiveness is crucial for the Nuggets. Nelson has a great way of maintaining control so while I don’t think he’s a starter at this point in his career, his leadership and steadiness will keep things moving when Murray needs a breather. Nelson is also a great combo with Barton when Barton gets in his groove.
Mike Olson (@visiblemike): I agree about Murray starting, but I’m still weirdly hopeful that Mudiay gets to be the backup here. I see the writing on the wall, and am guessing that’s not about to happen, but think that’s the better long-term play for the team, and wouldn’t affect overall win/loss by much. Rose-colored glasses on this one, though…
After Russell Westbrook pushed Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets struggled to match the intensity of a better team in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Who (if anyone) will be the Nuggets enforcer this season?
Lewis: That’s going to need to be Mason Plumlee. He’s the biggest Nugget, and he’ll have to bring that edge to games. I wasn’t concerned about the team’s response against OKC, because it’s the preseason and Westbrook is a psycho (that’s a compliment).
Blackburn: Plumlee probably isn’t good enough to serve as a true enforcer, and Paul Millsap seems like he will be relatively quiet, at least at the beginning of the year. This is a wait-and-see for me, and it is a concern. Murray might eventually fill that role, but he has to be good on the court before entering consideration, in my opinion.
Mikash: Coach Malone talked about this after the game against the Thunder. He noted Chandler and Barton as “a guy who’s not going to get punked.” However, the Nuggets don’t have that guy in the mold of a Kenyon Martin or Kevin Garnett who’s going to make sure you know beforehand he’s not going to get punked. I’m not so sure they need one though, I thought they matched the intensity fairly well Tuesday night, and I don’t know if there is anyone on the team I could point to as being “soft”.
Douglas: I don’t know that it needs to be one player. I think everyone needs to commit to bringing a high level of intensity and aggression. That said I believe Murray brings the fire that helps ignite the players around him. Plumlee has the size for that job, but not the personality. I’d also like to see more intensity from Millsap from a critical perspective.
Olson: Bring back Kenyon Martin! Denver doesn’t really have “that guy”, though Chandler, Plumlee, and Darrell Arthur each COULD be a guy to do that, they’re each preceded by nice quiet-guy expectations… I agree with Ashley. It has to be a village here. A pissed-off village.
Will Michael Malone use a nine-man rotation (his noted preference) or use ten players on a regular basis?
Lewis: I think he’ll go with nine to start, especially as Trey Lyles develops familiarity with his teammates on both ends of the court. I’d expect to see a lot of small ball with Barton at the 3 while Juancho, Chandler, and Plumlee swap minutes at the 4.
Blackburn: I think he will start the season with nine players. If it works and players excel in their roles, that may be what he sticks with for awhile. If not, expect changes quickly, the first of which would probably be adding Kenneth Faried back into the rotation.
Mikash: Tuesday night certainly seemed to indicate that coach is going to go with a nine man rotation, despite his claims that he was still experimenting. It’s going to be tough to keep the likes of Lyles and Faried happy as they appear to be on the outside looking in so I imagine in certain small ball situations or when coach feels like the team needs a burst of energy he’ll put in one of those guys.
Douglas: I’d like to see him move forward with 9 to keep things consolidated, but knowing Malone’s tendency to tinker, it’s anyone’s guess. The Nuggets are in a great position because they have so much flexibility. Malone has many options to rotate through if things aren’t working the right way. The challenge will be avoiding the temptation to fix things when they aren’t broken, and helping everyone understand when they fit in.
Olson: I keep hearing nine, I keep seeing good opportunities for 10 or even 11. I’m hopeful about the former, but history says we’re headed back to the latter. If so, we may see another spate of “I don’t understand my role” moments for this team, so let’s hope they find a nine-man rotation that both works for them and is understood by the guys in uniform, even if they’re riding the pine.