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Stiffs Roundtable: Preseason reactions and favorite players

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A look at what three preseason games means for Denver

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Who do you want to be the starting point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray or Jameer Nelson?

Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): Jamal Murray. The Nuggets saw (and have seen this year) a bright future for Jamal Murray. He provides the most spacing, the most defense, and the right amount of firepower in the starting lineup. Emmanuel Mudiay also fits very well with the bench, as that group needs someone they can defer to at times, as long as Kenneth Faried-Mason Plumlee isn’t the big man bench combo. If the goal is to really make noise in the Western Conference this season, the Nuggets need to go for it and start Murray.

Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): Jameer Nelson. This isn’t an indictment of Murray or Mudiay, but I just don’t see how the Nuggets can put Murray out there with the defensive issues he has in his game. Mudiay is still too inconsistent, although he is showing some signs of improvement. Nelson should start at the beginning of the season, and one of Murray or Mudiay can take over later in the year.

Evan Fiala (@eefiala): I, too would like Jamal Murray to start, though as long as the offense runs through Jokic it shouldn’t matter much. Murray has a higher ceiling and the Nuggets can rest easy knowing there’s a capable veteran in Jameer on the bench if needed.

Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): I don’ have a great answer for this just yet. I’m probably leaning towards Jamal Murray but I haven’t been impressed by his point guarding skills too much through three preseason games. I think he’s an incredible player and should be on the floor for 25 minutes per game or more, but I’m not sure he’s ideal for the starting point guard spot. The tough part is, neither are Jameer Nelson or Emmanuel Mudiay. I’m going to go ahead and wait until after the final two preseason games to make my pick.

Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Most everyone knows by now I’m all aboard the Jamal train. That being said, if Mudiay legit wins this starting job and its more about how good he looks and not that Murray under performed then I’m cool with that too. However, thus far, Mudiay looks better but I wouldn’t say head and shoulders better than Murray and last night we saw what Murray is capable of scoring wise. If Murray can gain some consistency, then he should be the starter in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on the Nuggets new defensive scheme so far?

Blackburn: I like it. Everyone has been engaged, and while there have (and will likely always be) some mistakes, the benefits far outweigh the detriments. Small sample size alert, of course, but Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler look much more comfortable in this scheme. They project to be the second and third best defenders in the starting lineup behind Paul Millsap, and tending to players is very important. Nikola Jokic and whoever starts at point guard will have to figure things out, but early returns are encouraging.

Lewis: Get back to me when the Nuggets play a regular season game. Teams are trying new things on offense and defense, while also keeping some new sets close to the vest.

Fiala: I definitely like the intensity and guys seem more focused and comfortable. Still a lot of kinks to work out though.

Mares: More important than the scheme is the overall effort. Guys seem to be focused on that end noticeably more than they were at any point last season and that alone is a great start. The trick will be in maintaining that level of intensity as the execution improves. And lastly, with regards to Nikola Jokic, I think it is good that he is being challenged. I think he’s the type of player that needs challenged on that end in order to shine.

Mikash: I’m with Adam, not as much about scheme but more about the effort and intensity they are bringing each night. Certainly having Millsap is going to help this year on defense but I would caution anyone getting too excited that defensive effort and focus is a lot easier to maintain in the beginning of October than it is in the middle of March.

Will Kenneth Faried be a regular part of the rotation, or has Trey Lyles done enough to take Faried’s minutes?

Blackburn: It’s too early to say with 100% certainty, but I think Trey Lyles will get the nod on opening night. Michael Malone has stressed fit at the starting PG and backup PF position. Lyles is pretty clearly the better fit next to Plumlee, and while Faried is almost certainly the better player, the Nuggets have had success with Lyles out there because of what he brings offensively. It’s possible that neither of them would play a huge role due to the presence of Juancho Hernangomez as a combo forward, but as of now, I’m thinking Lyles will play over Faried.

Lewis: I think Kenneth Faried might only ever start again if Paul Millsap gets injured. I’m tired of making excuses for why he should play at all, let alone as a backup. Faried isn’t a fit next to anyone but Jokic (water is wet, more at 11) and Lyles has more basketball skills like dribbling, passing, shooting, and can set screens.

Fiala: Both have deficiencies, especially on defense, but in my opinion Lyles is more of a versatile threat on offense. I think I’d like to see him get more minutes.

Mares: This is another question that I don’t know the answer, mainly because we need the other spots in the rotation settled. As Malone has mentioned, it’s more about fit than talent but we don’t know who fits until we know who the backup point guard will be. But it’s also possible that neither guy is a major part of the rotation and Denver splits backup power forward minutes among Juancho, Wilson, and Plumlee.

Mikash: I think Lyles is looking like he’s going to win it. He hasn’t necessarily done a ton to win the spot (don’t get me wrong, he’s looked good) but I think the fit is so much better that he would have to be completely awful to not get the first crack at backup PF. It’s a shame because Faried definitely is a rotation level player in the NBA, but Lyles looks like he is too and also has had some great chemistry with Mason Plumlee so I tend to think he’s going to win out, regardless of how the PG rotation shakes out.

Who has been your favorite player in preseason thus far?

Blackburn: I alluded to him earlier, but Juancho Hernangomez can flat. out. play. He has made major improvements defensively, looks more comfortable dribbling and passing (though still not great), and his shooting stroke reminds me of a waterfall in the middle of an island paradise. If there are any questions about whether he is a 40% three-point shooter this year, he’s going to answer them quickly. This dude is going to be one of the best catch-and shoot guys in the NBA for a long, long time. His catch-and-shoot effective field goal % of 61.9% last year nestled comfortably between Klay Thompson, Mike Conley, and J.J. Redick last year. Sign me up.

Lewis: I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty it hasn’t been Kyle Kuzma. talk about an overhyped Lakers prospect. My favorite player has been Trey Lyles. I’ve been impressed by his ballhandling and athleticism. I’m not looking for him to jump off the tape defensively because he’s been with the team for 20 minutes. I’ve seen a player that has the physical tools to be a rotation player for the Nuggets for a long time.

Fiala: After last night I certainly hope Juancho plays a significant role, but I’ve also been impressed with Plum-lobster. He’s balled hard and looks more comfortable after a training camp under his belt. Hopefully this justifies his contract.

Mares: The team has been so much fun to watch in preseason. It’s an unselfish team and they’re at their best when no one player sticks out. That being said, I’ve really enjoyed Juancho. His shot looks magnificent. I am having dreams of Murray-Harris-Juancho-Wilson-Jokic lineups raining fire on any team foolish enough to step on the court with them.

Mikash: Gonna have to go with the Spanish Stallion here. Juancho just continues to look like he belongs and he’s backing up the plus 40% three point shooting he threw down last season. While there may have been some questions just a week ago about whether or not he would crack the rotation, those look like they are put to rest. Juancho has shown he is too good to leave off the floor.