Media Day recap

For the first time in Roundball Mining Company history a member of our team — yours truly — was able to attend Nuggets Media Day. It was an incredible, eye-opening experience and we cannot thank the Nuggets organization enough for allowing us the opportunity to gain this type of coverage of the team we all love most. I was able to score eight one-on-one interviews with various team members. Here is how it went…

Fournier was first. He was extremely amiable. I was nervous, being that this was my first interview ever with a Nuggets player, but he made the experience very pleasant and enjoyable. He talked openly about how happy he is right now. “I feel great in Denver,” Fournier said. “It’s a big city but it’s also kind of small. I really enjoy it. I have a house and a dog. That’s the perfect life for me.”

Here’s the thing about interviewing people that I’m kind of learning: You can get a pretty damn good idea of who someone is in a really short amount of time, and what I gathered from Fournier is that he’s precocious. For a 19-year-old kid — a foreigner living halfway around the world from his birthplace, nonetheless — he seemed pretty damn cheerful. I just received a good vibe from him, one that makes me trust his judgement — which is usually good for basketball things.

As for his role on the team this year, Fournier said, “I don’t know. That will be decided in training camp. I just know that every time I’m on the court I have to give 100 percent. We’ll see. I’m just gonna play hard and we’ll find out.”

Andre Miller is the very definition of a veteran. The guy is on his thousandth rodeo by now. He talked a lot about health. He thinks staying healthy is the key to the Nuggets success this year. He also said something that I found interesting in regards to team chemistry: “We have good guys with good attitudes who are committed to the team,” Miller said. “Normally you have do deal with a lot of egos when you have this much talent. We have good, positive types of guys.”

Miller said he wants to be a leader and that staying mentally tough throughout the highs and lows of the 82-game season is what’s going to prepare them most for the Playoffs. I couldn’t agree more. The Nuggets haven’t exactly had the most fortitude in the Playoffs over the last handful of years (see: Anthony, Carmelo and “quitting”) and it seems to sometimes be reflected in the regular season. If this year’s team can play with resiliency throughout tough stretches of the regular season, it will better prepare them for the Playoffs, where things will get much more difficult.

I asked Miller what it was like playing for George Karl. He said, “The main thing is he gives you the opportunity to go out there and do what you’ve been working on. He lets you make mistakes and learn from them at the same time. He understands where players are in their careers and what they can do on the court.”

Miller also said he likes the new uniforms and that he and Andre Iguodala “play well off each other.”

Gallinari was pretty much mauled by reporters (as was Lawson and Iguodala) when he first came out. I missed about half his interview but caught up with him afterwords. He talked a lot about his injuries, which he claims he is fully healed from, and how he wants to get better this season. “I want to improve my stats,” Gallinari said. “I want to improve in any part: assists, rebounds and points. If we can win and I can improve at the same time that will be great.” I asked him how he’d feel if he made the All-Star team. He smiled, then sternly straightened up and said, “It’s not one of my goals but if I make it’s going to be unbelievable.”

You could tell by the way he talked about improving that he genuinely wants to get better. You can really see it. Gallinari wants to be the best player he can be. I truly believe that.

Losing to the Lakers last year bothered him too. “The week after the Lakers series was tough because I love basketball, I live my life for basketball, so when things don’t go your way it doesn’t take one day to forget everything,” Gallinari said.

Over the summer Gallo tried to improve in many different areas, especially his long-range shooting. “I worked on a lot of things,” Gallinari said. “I was playing with the national team so I didn’t focus on one thing. But I tried to improve my 3-point shot. I did a lot of good things last year and improved in a lot of ways. My 3-pont shot was always one of my strengths and last year it wasn’t a great percentage. This year has to be better.”

Gallinari simply has so much talent, which Nuggets fans saw on full display for the first half of last season. If he can pick up where he left off at All-Star break last year, this team can be dangerous.

“It’s tough to see a ceiling with this team,” Gallinari said. “We can be a very good team. It’s up to us.”

Randolph echoed Gallinari and Andre Miller’s sentiments. “The sky’s the limit,” Randolph said. “Hopefully we don’t get plagued with a lot of injuries this year. From there, if we can stay healthy there’s no telling what could happen.”

I asked Randolph about playing in Minnesota last year, to which he replied, “It was a good experience. I learned a lot.” Randolph meant it too. He seemed very honest about where he is as a player and what he needs to do in order to see court time. “I think it’s gonna be a good year,” Randolph said. “Right now I’m just looking to come in and help out Kenneth as much as I can. All I have to do is just work hard. How hard I work will determine how much I play.”

Randolph is without question one of the most intriguing aspects of the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets squad. You get the feeling he could either be a solid rotation guy or buried on the far end of Karl’s bench for all eternity. I want so badly for him to find a spot with this team, as he’s teeming with talent and is the perfect fit for the type of system the Nuggets implement. We’ve seen the change McGee has made in only six months. Lets just hope Randolph can re-learn different fundamentals of basketball in that short amount of time as well.

Mozgov was probably the most cryptic of all Nuggets interviews, and in more ways than one. He was a nice guy, very interested in talking about basketball — I just couldn’t understand him all that well. Even when I went back and listened to his interview I had a hard time deciphering complete sentences. This isn’t his fault; he has a thick accent, deep voice and is clearly still learning the English language. Needless to say, I couldn’t come up with very many quotes.

He did like playing in the Olypmics this year — that I could understand. “The Olympic games were a great experience,” Mozgov said. He smiled when talking about it and seemed very enthusiastic. It was nice seeing him show that much pride in his home country.

When I asked Mozgov about his minutes he immediately brought up Koufos saying,”I think me and Kosta, we’re a different type of player.” I asked him if he battles hard in practice with Koufos, to which he laconically replied, “Yes.” I then asked him who wins. He said, “I don’t know. Ask Kosta.”

Mozgov also became very sprightly when talking about the Playoffs. He played well against the Lakers last year, so perhaps he feels a bit of a connection there. “I think we can make it back to the Playoffs this year but we have so many new teammates that it’s hard to tell where we’ll be,” Mozgov said.

Hamilton was another fun interview. He seemed eager to field questions and had a visible energy about him. I asked him what he worked on this summer to which he replied, “A little bit of everything. I mixed it up. The main thing I did was get in great shape — lots of jump shots this summer, working on my quickness so I can guard guys better.”

I told him he was one of the most impressive guys at Summer League. He laughed, and thanked me for the kind words, then said, “The main thing was just to get better — show them that I could really play. We didn’t have a full training camp or Summer League last year so I thought that was the time to show them what I could really do.”

As for his role this year: “I think I can help with 3-point shooting and scoring,” Hamilton said. “If I can just make threes and get to the rim, that’s how I can help. They said they want me to play some stretch four. One of my main focuses over the last couple of months was guarding guys, getting better on defense. Whatever role they want me to do, I’m gonna do it.”

We then talked about football, how he’s a Jets fan and that he really didn’t even start following football until he went to school at Texas. I told him his parents hit the genetic lottery having three kids ranked as top 15 recruits in their high school class. He thought that was pretty funny, but got serious and said as long as his siblings worked hard, they’d have a great chance of making it to the NBA like he did.

Stone is the man. He just gets it. As long as he’s on your team, you’re not gonna have to worry about him getting in trouble, placing the blame on other people or slacking off in practice. All he cares about is winning and playing the game the right way. And he’s tall; way taller than I thought. He’s listed at 6-6, but man, I wouldn’t be surprised if he topped out at 6-7 or taller with shoes on.

Stone said the recovery from his hip injury is “coming along better than expected.” He said he worked out a lot this summer, mostly on his shooting but also on his finishing. “Me being athletic and all, I feel like I could use my athleticism when I score,” Stone said. “Instead of trying to lay it up on everybody I’m gonna try to crush it on ‘em.”

That is awesome. As Bill Walton would say: Throw it down big man, throw it down.

Stone said one part of his game he keyed in on this summer was the mental side. “More than anything this summer, I was just making sure that mentally, my confidence is where it needs to be,” Stone said. This kind of went hand-in-hand with what he said about his potential role this year:

“Whatever role they give me I’m gonna do. As long as we win I’m good. I’ve worked on my game so much this summer that I want to contribute. But my main focus is whatever they need. If it’s defensive stopper — that’s what I love to do. If it’s someone who distributes or scores — whatever it takes for us to win, I’ll do it. That’s been my MO: Do whatever the team needs.”

I asked Stone about his future with the Nuggets being that he’s in the final year of his contract. “I would love to be here” Stone said. “I feel like it’s a great place. The guys and organization are made up of great people. You don’t find that everyday. They gave me an opportunity when nobody else did.”

As for the Playoffs and team expectations this year: “We can do something,” Stone said. “We definitely can. We have all the pieces and I believe we’re hard working. If everybody comes together we’ll be good.

Iguodala was by far the funniest player at Media Day. He was extremely laid back and spent a good portion of his time laughing with the media about some pretty random stuff. He said he likes rap music but, “it’s gotta have some substance.” Then he talked about watching golf all weekend and how he couldn’t believe the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post asked him about his golf game. He said if by golf he meant barely making contact with the ball, then yeah, he plays it. He also went on a rant about flopping and the difference between European floppers and American floppers. He said, “I’ve never been a fan of flopping. There’s some American guys in the league who don’t even flop, they just scream.” Someone asked him about watching the Lakers-Nuggets Game 7 replay and he seemed genuinely upset that NBATV showed more Lakers runs than Nuggets runs — which was really, really good to hear.

As for basketball-related issues, here are his best quotes while I was present:

On the trade: “I knew this was kind of brewing for a while now, the organization trying to acquire myself.”

On being a leader: “You have to have a happy medium as far as showing them the hard work first. Then you gotta lead by example, actually playing the game. Then you gotta be vocal. I’ve always tried to find a happy medium. It’s more difficult than you think.”

On playing in the West: “I’ve always felt more comfortable, more offensive minded playing against west-coast teams. It should be a plus for me in that aspect.”

On the difference between this year and others: “Mentally I’m in a better place. I’m really just happy kind of getting a fresh start.”

On how he likes Denver: “It’s really nice. I gotta adjust to it. It’s a weird adjustment but it’s a good adjustment. Everybody is smiling at you; everybody is saying hi. It’s the weirdest thing ever. Philly is kind of like, be on guard, have your hands ready.”

Lastly, in case you haven’t seen them yet, here are the new alternate Nuggets uniforms which will be worn on 18 different occasions this year:

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

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  • Jeff

    Awesome, congrats. Thanks for sharing some quotes with us. Seems like a real positive team.

  • jake

    Iggy loves it here. That makes me very excite.

  • http://Denverstiffs.comSlader Richard Greenslade

    Super – what a treat to hear so many Nuggets directly quoted.
    If Dre says we haven’t got ego issues, then we are ready rock. From what the others says, sounds like he’s right.

    The talent is there, so if health and “teamness” hold, this is a dangerous team.

  • http://Denverstiffs.comSlader Richard Greenslade

    Although they do look a bit like a flock of canaries. Big canaries, true, but canaries.

    • dynamo.joe

      Now I wish Bird was still here.

  • jr15

    Anthony Randolph should wish for some injuries, that’s the only way he can get some PT.
    Also I think another reason we will be much better than last year is Ill Will. Him and Iguodala will lock down perimeter players and McGee can help erase shots of players that come into the paint.
    Defense should be our MO, we have the personnel for it. And yes a talented team like the Pistons in 04 relied on D as well.
    I still think someone will be traded before the trade deadline, we have too many assets.

    • Zack

      Chandler isn’t as good of a defender as you’re giving him credit for.

      But Iguodala certainly is. And he’ll be great in this run and gun styler offense.

  • Señor Chang

    Great work Kalen.

    Never been so excited about the nuggets! So much young talent that will only keep getting better (and I’m not even considering Fournier, j ham and Q mill that much yet)

    Masai Ujiri is a genius and he is showing an alternative way of building a gun team without bottoming out. We have so much talent and flexibility going forward to continue to trade up or stay put if Lawson, McGee and gallo make huge strides

  • EWilson

    Nice job. I also like the idea that there aren’t a lot of big egos on this team. They do need to find someone willing to take the final shot, though. If Gallo or Lawson are willing and able to step into that role, I think the sky is the limit for this team. Frankly, the only team I fear out West is Oklahoma City, and they aren’t as deep as Denver, so an injury or two could really slow them.

  • DH

    On Stone’s height… I remember watching The Association and seeing Stone, Faried, and Hamilton walking down a sidewalk together. Faried and Hamilton were about the same height, with Hamilton being maybe just a little taller. Stone was a full inch or two taller than either. Yes, Stone is tall, but what struck me was how our PF is shorter than our backup PG and backup SG. As much as I love Faried, that’s a problem in some matchups. Hopefully, Randolph surprises us all and shows that he can be effective when called upon.

    As for the interviews, nice job Kalen! That must have been a blast.

    • Dave

      Faried has 2 inches on Charles Barkley and he seemed to overcome his match-up issues….

  • Gordon

    I love that Ty’s already talking about being #1 in the West. OKC doesn’t scare us – we played them to epic knife-fight standoffs last year. The Lake Show doesn’t scare me, but Lakers + refs can be hard to overcome.

    I think the playoff series did us a LOT of good as a team. We got experience, and we figured out that the boogeyman isn’t really all that scary. If we would have taken care of our own business, we’d have won that series.

    And nobody takes care of his own business like AI9. I expect that to trickle down to everyone else. The guys keep talking about health, but this is one team that should be able to survive a bad health issue and keep going. For home court, though, we’ll need to stay relatively injury-free.

    It’s going to be interesting, knowing there shouldn’t be any team in the league we can’t take. I truly hope Karl can get the emphasis on defense that he’s talking about, and can get the guys to knuckle down against the easier opponents. Feasting on the underbelly of the league is how you get home court.

    If Gallo can rain threes while Ty pushes the pace, Igoudala destroys the other teams offense, Javale and Faried put blood on the floor in the paint and our bench hulks out… this is gonna be a really, REALLY fun year.

    It might be the team I wanted those Melo/Nene/Camby teams to be, except with a massive infusion of heart and selflessness, not to mention bench talent.

    Bring on the season!

    ~G

  • Roundball Bill

    The new uniforms are sooo sweet! I hope the response is so positive to them that next year they adopt them as the full time unis.

  • Zack

    I really like the new jerseys. My favorite Nuggets jerseys are definitely the old white ones with the rainbow colored skyline on them. These jerseys incorporate that with the gold that makes them very cool.

    At first I wasn’t sure about them but they have definitely been growing on me.

  • SmokinNugs

    Great writeup! This is exactly what I come to Roundball for, you never get info like this on the Nuggets from ESPN!

    Love the new uniforms!

    Also, judging by the picture is it fair to say Iggy is going to play the 2? Looks like our starting lineup there!

    • Zack

      It’s funny because I watched the video of them unveiling the new unis and someone asked if those 5 players are the starting 5. Josh said that they were just the 5 that are out there showing off the jerseys.

      If I had a guess I’d say that’s our starting five on opening night (Lawson, Iguodala, Gallo, Faried, McGee).

      And that should be the starting 5.

      • Señor Chang

        I hope so. But I’m worried GK will start Mozgov and only play our $11 million man about 25-30 minutes a game

  • blackhill

    Awesome!

  • ionic66

    Great job Kalen and Roundball team. When I first came across you guys I was thrilled a website was discussing Nuggets. And to see you guys progress over the years to analysis, grades, film, and now you’re going to media days! Man, what a trip. Thanks for all you do and for making roundballminingcompany a fixture in my daily routine.

    Go Nuggets and looking forward to your work this season.

  • Z

    will Coach Karl mess it up is the question

  • http://www.onegociocerto.net/como-fazer-pedido.html o negocio certo, trabalho em casa

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in reality was once a entertainment account it. Glance advanced to more brought agreeable from you! By the way, how could we be in contact?