In what turned out to be an exciting game, the Nuggets ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls in the final few possessions after a back-and-fourth affair all night. JaVale McGee turned in an impressive performance with 15 points and eight boards in 25 minutes, while Ty Lawson looked dominant in the early periods of the game before succumbing to injury. The Nuggets finish the preseason with a 2-5 record and lots of room for improvement heading into the season. Here are a few more notes from Friday’s action…
— The Nuggets offense is obviously a work in progress, but it’s looked better as the preseason has unfolded — at least, at time it has. Everybody still seems to be operating on a different page but when plays are occasionally executed the way they should be, it’s impressive. Fans will have to be patient but when the Nuggets are finally clicking on all cylinders it could be quite the treat, especially after witnessing years of George Karl’s do-whatever, no-play offense.
— None of the Nuggets bigs are really skilled enough to post up on a consistent basis, yet Shaw has clearly made a commitment to doing so. It’s nice to see a coach make this type of investment into the development of his players, however a potentially critical point of assessment for Shaw this season will be his ability to recognize when he’s gone too far. Mozgov just isn’t the type of guy who’s ever gonna kill dudes in the post — at least not on offense. And the same goes for all the Nuggets bigs, really. One or two post-ups for each guy every game is fine, but some deserve more than others, and in general the Nuggets must distribute these possessions wisely. The average NBA game just doesn’t have enough possessions to waste on low-percentage shots, plain and simple.
— Ty Lawson was hot in the first half before leaving with an injury. He flourished under Karl’s run-and-gun offense relying mostly on his speed, but he looked great Friday night in the half court. A lot of people might think his speed would be underutilized in a more traditional offense, but he’s still shown the ability to blow past people due to the fact he’s just as quick as he is fast. In the first half of Friday’s game he had several outstanding passes and hit a few tough jump shots in the lane with Bulls players all around him. This Nuggets team has many talented players, and it is early, but you can already get the feeling this squad will only go as far as Lawson takes it come playoff time — if the Nuggets make it there.
— Anthony Randolph continues to impress. I thought he was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets outside of JaVale McGee. He made a few nice midrange jumpers, rebounded well, had some great put-backs and most importantly, he played smart basketball. One of Randolph’s biggest struggles throughout his career has been his decision making, yet he’s been solid so far this preseason. If he continues to play like this, I have little doubt he’ll earn himself a spot in the rotation.
— I really enjoy watching Quincy Miller play basketball. Shaw might be exactly what the doctor ordered when it comes to his development. There is a very distinct contrast between his demeanor and style of play this year as apposed to last year under Karl. He’s much more confident. He knows his role. He takes shots when they’re open. And, at times, he’s seeing the floor with the vision of a point guard. He still has a long way to go before his jumper is anything near pretty, but if keeps playing like he is, there’s a decent chance he could turn into a valuable contributor to this Nuggets team in the not-so-distant future. After all, he is only 20 years old!
— I’ve seen Andre Miller play with the Nuggets for over two years and I still don’t know what to expect on a nightly basis. In this game he was pretty bad. He tried to beat guys off the dribble but often turned the ball over or got rejected. He had a nice lob to McGee in the second quarter, but outside of that he spent most of the game contributing to turnovers or bad possessions in some fashion. As awful as he was last year on defense, he deserves a second chance under a new coach — but he’ll need to play much better than he did tonight to secure consistent minutes.
— Do you realize the Nuggets traded away Kosta Koufos this past summer and in turn signed Timofey Mozgov to a three-year, $15 million contract? Yes, Timofey Mozgov. The guy who couldn’t even crack the rotation last year. The guy who’s been in the NBA for four years and has NEVER cracked a rotation. Honestly, my flat out incredulity about the above sentences is hard to put into words. I’ve watched Mozgov more than enough to know what type of player he is, the potential he has and how much money he should earn in the NBA — AND I’M JUST A NUGGETS-FAN-BLOGGER-DUDE!!! How in the hell does the front office of an NBA franchise not understand this!?!?! I’d love for nothing more than Mozgov to prove me wrong, but at this point, I’d be absolutely shocked if (A) he makes the rotation, and (B) is still in it by December. Absolutely shocked.
— If Nate Robinson isn’t carrying the entire offense on his back, I’m not sure how valuable he is. He played a more traditional point guard role in this game and was nonexistent. It’s a bit difficult imagining where he fits into this offense if he can’t be unleashed on a consistent basis.
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