The Denver Stiffs Roundtable is a weekly series where members of our staff share their thoughts on the latest Nuggets buzz.
The Denver Nuggets have had an impressive week as each preseason game shows more and more of the team's upside, development, and attention to detail. Each week we also learn a little bit more about the team's new coach, Michael Malone and the talented young rookie point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay especially appears to be improving every game and with a 5th preseason game tipping off tomorrow night at Pepsi Center, we fired up 3 questions for our staff in this week's round table.
- With 4 preseason games behind us, who do you think the Nuggets' should start at center?
Mike Olson (@visiblemike): Joffrey Lauvergne has made a stellar case for the start against Houston, and seems the best fit against Dwight Howard. The reason I bring up the Howard aspect is this: Michael Malone appears to be pointing himself towards situational rotations, blessedly, and King Joffrey is the best fit against Dwight, with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): I don't see how it can be anyone other than Joffrey Lauvergne. Nikola Jokic has been good as well but Lauvergne had his early adjustment period last year and is firing on all cylinders in the early season after a good Eurobasket experience. Joffrey is also a more physical player than Jokic is, and breaking Nikola in on the second-stringers is a good idea in my book.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Joffrey Lauvergne. Nothing about him is flashy but he's been solid all the way around and with his solid play has come solid production. I'll admit that Faried at the starting 5 against the Warriors was impressive, but you can't figure the team is going to be able to rely on Faried to defend guys like Karl Anthony-Towns, Enes Kanter and Dwight Howard, all of whom the Nuggets will see early in the season.
Hernan Birckenstaedt (@CombatChuk): Kenneth Faried. We saw the Manimal of old go crazy against Golden State Tuesday night. He brought the energy, ferocity, and hustle that we haven't seen since the George Karl days. This also puts Gallinari at PF which is a massive advantage on offense for us. When Nurkic returns, I expect Harris to sit and Malone to go big. If Faried really has gotten that 16 foot jumper working, then we'll be seeing lots of tacos in the future.
What one word best describes the Nuggets preseason so far?
Olson: Refreshing. Hustle, team play, effort, scoring, and DEFENSE have all made semi-frequent appearances in games. Bad moments don't always lead to bad streaks, and bad streaks don't always lead to a collapse. It's quite a turnaround from the last two seasons, but early to tell if it will stay when the inevitable tough times hit.
Gross: Heart. Denver had a distinct lack of heart over long stretches under Brian Shaw, but have displayed plenty in the early going under Michael Malone. These Nuggets won't do everything right, but as long as they don't get down on themselves about that there is a lot of hope for this season, not just the future ones. Making one mistake is fine. Letting a mistake snowball because you can't let it go is a problem for many young players, but so far not for ours. Watching them take the fight to the Bulls and the Warriors and not be starstruck by their competition is pretty exciting. Hopefully they carry that attitude into the regular season.
Mikash: Growing. No doubt the Nuggets hit rock bottom last season but this preseason we're starting to see changes happen. There's an infusion of youth and positive culture in the organization and so far that has translated into what looks like a bright future and some fairly solid play. This doesn't mean there haven't been some bumps though and I expect as the team grows this year we'll get a solid mix of both.
Birckenstaedt: Disciplined. Under Brian Shaw, the Nuggets were a complete mess. Lazy offense, lackadaisical defense, and just overall crappy basketball. Things did improve under Melvin Hunt, but nothing like the turnaround Coach Mike Malone has orchestrated in just the few short months. The Defensive effort displayed but the Nuggets this preseason is short of amazing (compared the chaotic Karl era, and the uncaring Shaw era).
What are you going to be looking for in tomorrow's home game against the Suns?
Olson: More of the same. There is nothing more important to this teams' progress and eventual success this season than consistency. Win or lose, I want to see effort and team play, and have yet to be disappointed. Malone has repeatedly shown in these contests he won't abide poor play, even in lopsided moments for either side. More of that, PLEASE.
Gross: What Mike said. Also, I want to see Mudiay put a hurting on somebody. He's facing off against Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight tomorrow, but he's bigger and stronger than either man. They are talented players, but I want to see Mudiay dish out more than he takes in this one. He's been holding his own against vastly more experienced players thus far, but I want to see our kids take over games. Other than that, just keep doing what we're doing. It's obviously working both in the win column and the providing-a-good-fan-experience column.
Mikash: A stream to watch it on! No just kidding. The clock is ticking for Erick Green and Nick Johnson as they play for the final roster spot. In the Warriors game it was Johnson getting the bulk of minutes between the two and if that continues on Friday the writing might be on the wall for Green. I hope the Nuggets at least let Green get a little burn in the back end of the preseason if that's the case. Kid can play and you can't tell me that there are 450 guys in the association that are better than him.
Bickenstaedt: Looking for Emmanuel Mudiay to keep building on his stellar play of preseason. He's been so careful in the preseason and we have seen a massive improvement over the turnover centric summer league play we saw a few months ago. I'm also hoping Mudiay can keep up his 3 point shooting, if he can really get a consistent 33% from the 3 point line then we're in for a treat this year.