Denver Nuggets training camp kicked off this morning with the first of two practices scheduled for today at the Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs. The group seemed upbeat and energetic for the first official day of the season. Below are the notes from camp.
* Head coach Michael Malone said that he requested that the team move training camp the Olympic Training Center in large part because the Nuggets practice court was too small for a full and efficient practice. "I knew right away that when I got the job that I did not want to stay in Denver for training camp." He went on to say that the practice facility inside Pepsi Center features just one full-length court while the training center has three full sized courts. Additionally, he felt that getting away from Denver for a few days would help build comradery.
* Malone also mentioned the higher altitude of Colorado Springs as a positive for hosting training camp down south. Several times in his 10-minute meeting with the media he mentioned wanting to push guys to be in great shape entering the season, especially since the team wants to run.
* The morning session was "non-contact" according to Malone, although he stressed that it was very intense and focused from start to finish. The team will have scrimmage sessions as part of this evenings practice and will have another two-a-day tomorrow, one practice on Thursday, and then they are off to scrimmage the Clippers on Friday.
* Based on quotes from both Malone and Emmanuel Mudiay, it sounds like a majority of the practice was broken down into stations around the gym. Each station was designed to introduce one component of the offense and/or defense including schemes, terminology, and technique. Players would spend a set amount of time at each station and were expected to absorb the terminology and core principles that the team will be using throughout the season.
* Gary Harris and Erick Green were shooting partners for shooting drills and seemed to spend the most time together after practice concluded. Those two entered the league together and it seems, based solely on my own observations, that the two of them enjoy working out together.
* It's always interesting to see what types of shots player take when going through end of practice shooting drills. Nikola Jokic split time taking mid range jumpers and three-point jumpers. Joffrey Lauvergne also split his time mixing in 2's and 3's. All of the guards worked exclusively on 3-point shots.
* Malone said of Gary Harris, "In my mind, I still call him a rookie because he never got a chance to really get comfortable and play consistent minutes. So, I don't think any of us really know who Gary Harris is or what kind of NBA player he is. So we have to give him that opportunity this year."
* Malone went on to say, "We'll start Randy (Foye) some games in the preseason, we'll start Gary (Harris) some games in the preseason." However, he went on to say that by the last two games, you'd like to have a rotation locked up so that players know what to expect going into the season.
* Nikola Jokic looked every bit as skinny as he was advertised by Malone at Media Day. He was wearing a tight fitting shirt so his new physique really stood out. It was pretty impressive although i imagine the next step for him will be adding a ton of strength.
* When I asked Harris if Malone's terminology was a lot different than Brian Shaw's and other coaches that he's played for, he said, "It's a little bit different and that's why I feel like we're drilling everything so heavily, just so we can get the terms and different concepts down."
* Mudiay said that he feels the guys that were in town for most of the summer, played in summer league, and for workouts in early September have a head start on some of the veterans going in to cap because they are already familiar with some of Malone's terminology and principles.
* On Jameer Nelson, Mudiay had this to say: "Jameer has been to the Finals so I'm just trying to talk to him as much as I can. We was talking today on the sideline a lot today and he was just telling me what he saw, what I saw. And I'm pretty sure it's going to be like that the whole season. And the thing about him, he's not selfish. Some people, they'll be probably selfish in this position but it's like he's giving me all the knowledge I can right now, so I appreciate it.
* Mudiay said that everybody on the team could feel the extra altitude and that they went through some conditioning drills at the end of camp that pushed every body pretty hard.
* Trust is one of Malone's buzz words. He mentioned it a couple of times during his press conference and Mudiay also mentioned trust as a key component of camp so far. Clearly that is something the team is focusing on.
* "I'm not the same player I was in high school. Everything changes daily, and you can learn more and improve on what you've gotta do." I liked that quote from Emmanuel. I think he's sick of being known as a high school player or a guy that went to China. He mentioned a few times that he feels his game is changing rapidly right now. Can't wait to see it on the court.
* NBA2k16 has D'Angelo Russell ranked slightly ahead of Mudiay in their player rankings. Mudiay scored a 75 while Russell is a 77. Something to keep an eye on as these two players will certainly be linked together for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, we are excited to be partnering with Mile High Sports radio and will be doing a few cross promotional things over the upcoming year including more frequent appearances on their radio program. Andrew Feinstein joined them last week and we look forward to talking Nuggets with the guys over there a lot more in the near future.
Also, Doug Ottewill with Mile High Sports wrote a very nice piece with some observations of his own from media day. He too noticed the "excitement" from the players and the overall positive vibe around the team heading into camp.
Anyone who hung out with the Nuggets themselves yesterday at the team’s annual media day will tell you this: There’s an energy in and around this organization that hasn’t been there in quite some time. It’s as clear as day. It’s not the standard start-of-the-season, "anything is possible" cliché talk.
Dare I say, the Nuggets are excited.