Toward the end of tonight's Nuggets 104-93 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Vegas, rookie Jusuf Nurkic rifled a pass from the three point circle to a cutting Kenneth Faried for a pretty assist. It was at this very moment that my feeling that this Nuggets team will surprise many an NBA individual was confirmed.
Kenneth Faried play very well in the second half of tonight's game, amassing 19 points and 7 rebounds. A very nice tally for the evening don't you think? As for Nurkic, the Bosnian Bear had 4 points, 9 rebounds and was credited for 2 assists ... although, my eyes believe he had at least two more. The rapid development this preseason of the rookie center has been nothing short of exciting for all Nuggets fans to watch. He may not get many minutes this season, but just maybe he's forcing the coaching staff to make some tough decisions.
Danilo Gallinari and J.J. Hickson both looked in mid season form. Gallinari was on pace for a 20 point night as he was schooling the Clippers perimeter defenders. I took notice as the Nuggets had Gallo posting up quite a bit tonight. I've seen this in practice as well, and it makes me wonder if this will be part of his new role going forward. As for Hickson, while he was shaking off the rust it is quite remarkable that a mere 7.5 months after his surgery to repair his ACL that he is back on the court. It's amazing the way surgical technology has advanced in the last 10 years. If only this was available when LaPhonso Ellis and Antonio McDyess blew out their knees. One can only dream.
Ty Lawson felt some hamstring tightness and was pulled out of the game for (according to the Nuggets) precautionary reasons. This left Randy Foye to do the heavy lifting at point guard. If there is any fly in the Nuggets optimism ointment it's definitely Ty's health. The Nuggets won't go very far if Lawson is in-and-out of the lineup all year. The Nuggets need to monitor this closely and find the best approach. Long stretches of the season with Foye as your point guard, as we saw last season, isn't very good for winning purposes.
On a great side note, Arron Afflalo broke out of his preseason mini-slump and contributed 16 points and some great defense in the third quarter of tonight's game. That's the AAA we all know and love. Let's see how consistent he can be going forward into the regular season.