The preseason is a weird thing. Wins and losses don’t matter and teams play somewhere between 12 and 15 players for double digit minutes.
Really the preseason is a lot like summer league, where players take things that they worked on during the offseason and bring them into live action for the first time.
This season the Nuggets are also incorporating a brand new system for a brand new coach and through the first two games it is becoming very clear that that change is going to be radical.
And through those games, things, for the most part, don’t look pretty.
For the second straight game, Kenneth Faried was awful on both ends of the floor. The game started with a post-up attempt for the Manimal against Pau Gasol that ended with a face-up line drive jumper that predictably missed its mark.
Faried got a few more post-up attempts and most of them ended in one of three ways. He either immediately kicked the ball back out to the wing, turned and faced up his defender or tried a spin back to the middle of the paint. None of it worked. Faried ended the first half 2-5 from the field and one of those makes was another ugly jumper.
Something that has become abundantly clear in the first two games of the preseason is that there just are not offensive skills in Faried arsenal and there never will be. The jumper is ugly; a low line drive that comes off his hand slow and not smooth at all, the only post move he has attempted so far is that spin back to the middle, and his floaters from Sunday night were all disasters.
Defensively it wasn’t much better, as Faried was abused by Pau Gasol on multiple occasions. The Manimal rebounded the ball much better tonight then he did Sunday, but he never saw the floor in the third quarter when JJ Hickson started and Darrell Arthur came in as the bench power forward. A fourth quarter technical seemed to show bit of frustration on Faried’s part, and is something worth watching, especially if his starting job is truly up for grabs.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was JaVale McGee. McGee’s box score numbers look pedestrian, he shot 6-13 from the field and only had seven rebounds, but the signs that McGee will be productive are there. Unlike Faried, who doesn’t look comfortable at all, JaVale seems smooth and most importantly comfortable in the post. The moves he makes are decisive, quick and varied. On Tuesday McGee showed a turnaround from the block, a hook shot, an elbow jumper and even caught an oop from his old buddy Andre Miller.
Defensively the first half was a bit rough, as a few times McGee attacked an already defended player as they approached the rim leading to an easy dump down pass to Chris Kaman who finished with a wide open dunk. In the second half things were better as McGee tended to stay where he needed to be and stayed on the ground. The biggest thing to take from these first two games is that JaVale looks ready to be a starting center that Nuggets fans can trust.
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