The new look Nuggets got a chance to show off for the first time in front of their home crowd and for the most part they looked good doing it.
First the good:
- Kenneth Faried finally looked like his old self again. The Manimal entered off the bench and wasn’t force fed post up chances, instead he just found his rhythm in the flow of the game. He finished with 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting, nine rebounds and two steals. When allowed to just run and dunk like he has been in the past he seemed comfortable. He even made a nice move in the post that led to an and-one late in the game, albeit on a guy who probably won’t make an NBA roster. Faried will be successful if he is allowed to be himself. As I have said before, he is what he is and that is probably close to all he will ever be. Fortunately, that happens to be a player who can make a big impact on plenty of games.
- Randy Foye showed why Denver brought him in and why he probably will get to start the season as the starter at shooting guard. With JaVale McGee and Faried limiting spacing when on the floor together the shooting of Foye is going to be huge to start games. If he stops trying to venture into the paint, which almost always ends in disaster, and knocks down open shots it will make Denver’s offense much more dangerous.
- Nate Robinson showed how much of an impact he can have on a game even without shooting well. He brings a playmaking ability that Denver didn’t have on the bench last year and one that pairs well with Andre Miller. With the Miller/Robinson back court being present in every game this preseason it sure looks like it will be a rotation fixture. If Nate can continue to pass this well it will make things a bit easier when Ty Lawson has to go to the bench.
- JaVale McGee continues to look like a very solid NBA player. It is hard to look at McGee through the first three games of the Brian Shaw era and not see a brand new player. Even with rough shooting numbers tonight the newfound confidence JaVale has shown through the first two games was there. His post moves were quick and with a purpose, he made the right pass and didn’t force things. I’m very excited to see this new JaVale as the season progresses.
- J.J. Hickson struggled a bit early, but his fourth quarter run with Nate Robinson was great. He finished on the pick-and-roll and found open spaces to present himself in areas Robinson could find him for easy dunks. It was a nice flash of chemistry between two new teammates and something that can be a big source of offense for the second unit.
And now a few rough points:
- In a continuing trend of the preseason the Nuggets got almost nothing out of the small forward position. Anthony Randolph started there and fired up four threes, only one of which went in. Randolph rebounded well but that was about it as he also had a turnover that involved staring down the point guard and getting his pass intercepted at the top of the key.
- His backup Jordan Hamilton didn’t do anything either, finishing 1 for 6 from the field and 0 for 4 from 3. For a guy who has a reputation as a shooter Hamilton has had a rough preseason. His only field goal came on a steal and dunk. I wondered this afternoon on Twitter why Hamilton wasn’t starting over Randolph but Hamilton’s play sure didn’t make it seem as bad of a decision as it could, and probably should, have been. Wilson Chandler will need a backup and right now it is hard to see one on the roster (No I don’t see how that guy is Darrell Arthur who has played exclusively power forward this preseason and through his entire career. He just isn’t athletic enough to defend the position or a good enough shooter to not crush already cramped spacing.)
- Evan Fournier struggled as well. Fournier, who had played well in the first two games, got away from the slashing that he is so good at and turned into an off-the-dribble jump shooter. The results were 1 of 6 shooting from the field including 0 for 3 from three. On the bright side he made his foul shots at the end of the night. If he can continue to slash and get to the line he can be a really good player. If he settles for jumpers his life will be much tougher.
- The defense wasn’t good enough against a Spurs team missing their three best players. The Nuggets let the Spurs shoot 46.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from three while also getting to the line 30 times. If the Spurs made more than 16 of those 30 attempts from the line the final score would be much different. Denver really missed Wilson Chandler tonight as Kawhi Leonard really beat them up when he was in the game. The young small forward scored 13 points in 21 minutes and got to the line eight times to go with four assists and 12 rebounds. That just isn’t good enough defense from Randolph and Hamilton.
- In a reoccurring problem the Nuggets were bad from the free throw line, shooting only 63 percent (17-27). The biggest culprit was Lawson who missed three attempts but every Nugget who got to the line missed at least one free throw. It still needs to get better before it costs Denver an important regular season game.
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