Mini Recap: Phoenix Suns 98, Denver Nuggets 79

The Denver Nuggets preseason has been up and down. That trend continued Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. While the Nuggets had some bright spots, they were often overshadowed by plays that made you scratch your head. Though the game was affected by technical difficulties (at least on Altitude), and though our writers weren’t able to catch the entire first half, several aspects of the game stood out. Here are a few things worth noting…

— Each Nuggets game this preseason has been a growing pain. At times, it’s almost hard to watch. But finally, after six games, it appears the Nuggets are finding some cohesion. Sure, they lost to Phoenix by nearly 20 points, but there were definitive signs of improvement. Passes were crisper, cuts were made with more zeal, actual plays were beginning to take form, and occasionally some really good defense was exhibited. This is without question the storyline of the preseason: growth. Can the Nuggets continue to evolve throughout the season? Though George Karl often started each year with a bang and remained consistently solid throughout the regular season, he also overlooked (or perhaps, shoved to the side) some of his team’s glaring issues that would later come back to bite the Nuggets in the rear end once the playoffs rolled around. Brian Shaw does not appear to be operating by those same guidelines. He wants to make sure everything is immaculate. If that means struggling in the early part of the season, he’s clearly fine with that as long as the growth is there throughout the year.

— JaVale McGee might be a microcosm of the 2013-14 Denver Nuggets. Like the Nuggets, he has tons of potential, but it’s gonna take time to reach that peak. And still, we’re already catching glimpses of what McGee could be with enough dedication, the right coaching and the proper amount focus. Against the Suns he had a few nice post moves, that had he even attempted last year would have gotten him benched. Shaw is clearly making an investment in McGee, and though it’s a dangerous one, the fact we’re already seeing signs of payoff makes it look like a wise decision. If McGee can improve consistently throughout the year there’s no telling just how good the Nuggets could be come April.

— Anthony Randolph has been impressive this preseason. He’s not the same player he was last year. This year he seems to be playing with more urgency. On Wednesday he finished with a team high 15 points in only 23 minutes of action. Randolph has never been shy about shooting, but he’s put on a show this month in terms of his overall skillset. From rebounding, to dribbling up the floor, to finishing on the break with authority, Randolph has proven he belongs in the league and perhaps in the rotation of a quality NBA team. Whether he deserves a spot in the rotation with the 2013-14 Denver Nuggets will likely be determined in practice in front of Brian Shaw.

If you were able to catch more of the game than we did, or if you’d just like to comment on all things Nuggets related, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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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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  • Gaston

    I was at the game…

    It was honestly somewhat depressing, uninspiring basketball. I liked some of Javale’s post moves, but he got destroyed by Gortat on more than one occasion. Still leaves his feet too much, still out of position too often.

    Quincy Miller looked good whenever he touched the ball, but they didn’t operate much offense through him. He sank a couple of open 3s they kicked out to him, something that could address one of our glaring weaknesses from last year.

    Fournier had some good drives and played aggressively – unfortunately it seems like Shaw is set with Foye at the 2.

    As a team, the defense was horrendous. Morris shot uncontested jumper after uncontested jumper. Andre Miller played his usual matador D. Mozgov got bullied under the basket by Gortat and Plumlee.

    I dunno guys. I’ve been so damn optimistic every year for the last decade – but I have serious reservations about this squad…

  • Charliemyboy

    What happened? I watched the first half then went to play guitar at a casino. After playing I looked at my android and what? 19 point loss? 38 points in the quarter for… Phoenix? Toilet time. No excuses? Is Shaw’s system right for this team, or anyone? Getting annoyed. But even though I live in Reno, I will not jump ship like Iggy. Don’t let that happen. Geeze… Phoenix has a new coach too. Were we out coached Brian? How did Phoenix beat OKC?

  • hiuhohio

    you know you can stream it right? are you not allowed to say that or something?

    • keith

      I was at the game and it was bad basketball by both teams. You have to remember the Nuggets still played without key players so you can’t go crazy with these results. The only thing I’m concerned about is the lack of fast break points the entire month. Half court basketball is a must to be a top team in the league and maybe Brian is focused on learning plays more than sportscenter highlights. I hope so!! This team has too much youth to not get 20+ points a night in the open court. My guess is once the regular season starts more easy points will occur and this will look like solid winning basketball again.
      The topics about who starts is more ego driven not based on anything of substance. Those that play the game don’t care much about being on the court at jump ball they want to get minutes in the 4th quarter when it counts. I care that Shaw makes the right decision at that time which George didn’t. Andre Miller didn’t start last year but he got way too many 4th quarter minutes which we all screamed about. Starting is overrated…finishing is where players make their name and money.

      • Marv

        Very well put.

  • Thomas

    It is downright depressing that Foye comes here and automatically becomes a starter based on a mediocre, journeyman career. Now we even see media efforts praising Fournier but saying that Foye is “teaching him how to become a better player”.

    Just a preseason game, but let’s give blame where blame is due – Hickson has been invisible as a starter. Considered yourself warned, Hickson as a PF will revert to his career averages, which are very weak even on the offensive end.

    If we start Foye and Hickson, we might not make the playoffs.

    I still think Hamilton can play – I wouldn’t give up on him yet.

    • John

      I’m not saying he should start, but Hickson’s career offensive stats are not weak. He averaged 13.8 his final season in Cle, 15.1 in Portland until they traded him to Sac. His 4.7 ppg in Sac don’t really count because he didn’t fit in on that team. Then 12.7 ppg last year in Por again.

  • Aaron Durkin

    yea Foye has to come off the bench. He is completly worthless if he is not hitting his shot.

  • John

    It’s only preseason. This game means basically nothing. Didn’t watch the whole game cause the World Series, but from what I saw Fournier looked great despite his shot not falling. Also, can somebody tell me who let Randolph’s jumpshot off the leash? That shit is broke.

  • Josh Chin

    Not a huge fan of Randolph. I’d love to see us showcase his talent and then trade him. We don’t need a 3/4 forward; we have enough. But this is just my biased opinion against him

  • Len Nunes

    Mozgov and Hamilton are very much disappointing me. Q Miller has shown improvement every game and A Miller still amazes me with his passing skills (which is hard for me to admit since I’m rooting for Robinson/Fournier to pass him on the depth chart)
    Randolph is the opposite to a “hack-a-shaq” player. Let him shoot all night cause he’s more dangerous from the free throw line.
    I facepalmed at one of the Phoneix Suns made three pointers when I noticed all 5 Nuggets players were in the paint *still makes me shake my head*
    For all I read about horrible Hickson’s defence, he had a decent first half but his offense looked “faried-esque”