It’s been eight games, so it was time for the Denver Stiffs staff to gather around the table and answer some questions. Here are their answers.
What’s been the most positive takeaway so far about this year’s squad?
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): The Joker still looks like the Joker. Nikola Jokic continues to do amazing things as a scorer, passer, and rebounder. He didn’t get the triple-double last night, but he put up 16 rebounds. He’s had a game with 29 points. He’s had 10 assists. His defense has shown marked improvement in my eyes, and while he’s never going to be an elite defender, he has a huge edge on Karl-Anthony Towns right now.
28% of GMs said that KAT is the best center in the NBA. Look at him play defense: pic.twitter.com/q0TrMcvFw9— Suspicious Sal (@Suspicious_Sal) October 19, 2017
Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops): Last night I saw that there are three key leaders on the offense (Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic), and they’re starting to get into the groove with balancing each other’s style of play. The lineup of Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Millsap and Jokic went 64.3% from the field and 58.3% from three last night contributing 46 points to the season high 129 points. The offensive flow has looked terrible, but last night it looked comfortable and natural so it seems things are starting to click.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Recently it has to be the point guard play which looked extremely shaky to start the season. However, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray have both strung together some nice games as of late and it gives me hope that not only is this team going to compete for a playoff spot this year, but also that they may actually have something pretty special at the 1. It’s early though, so time will tell.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): The defensive potential of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap. Millsap has been as good as advertised at times, and Jokic has long been an underrated defender. Pairing two guys that have a great basketball IQ together should produce great results, it’s just a matter of developing chemistry and instinct.
Describe your emotions through the first 8 games of the Nuggets season.
Blackburn: Conflicted. There are so many things to think about regarding this Nuggets team. On one hand, the offense, save for two games, has largely been terrible. There have been games where the entire team has been disinterested in playing basketball that night. On the other hand, it’s early. The feeling out process of how the rotation, pecking order, and on-floor dynamics are working has taken awhile. That doesn’t mean the season is lost, but I need more time to come to grips with what this team is before providing a legitimate opinion.
Douglas: Frustrated. In general, I have been very concerned with the coach’s decision to move away from Jokic controlling the offense, but last night it looks like things settled back into the way they were last season—with a little more emphasis on Murray and Jokic sharing the touches than Jokic running the show himself. I’m comfortable with a more balanced approach if Murray can remain consistent. However, my faith in the coaching staff has been shaken.
Mikash: To be honest for the most part its been pretty pessimistic. I felt the offense wasn’t clicking and without it the Nuggets were likely doomed to miss out on the postseason again. The last couple of games though have given me hope. Fair to say its been a bit of an emotional roller coaster thus far.
Lewis: What a roller coaster. I could tell that they hadn’t worked on offense during training camp, because things were rough on that end. Jokic was pouting, the sky was falling, but I tried to remain patient. Sure enough, the Nets game showed a spark of life, the Knicks smothered it, and then the Raptors game let things burn. Hopefully it’s not an isolated incident, and the offense can keep on popping.
What do the Nuggets need to do to beat the Warriors on Saturday?
Blackburn: Hit a heckuva lot of shots and hope they miss. Jokic has to go full Joker mode, and he may need to put up another triple-double against the Warriors for Denver to have a chance. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and company have taken their time to get going this year, and while it’s unlikely that Denver wins, they should put up a big fight if they make their open shots.
Douglas: Play exactly the way they played against Toronto. The Nuggets know they can beat the Warriors. They blew them out in one game last season, and they beat them again this year (albeit in the preseason). They just need to STICK WITH WHAT WORKS instead of mixing and matching the rotations like mad scientists. They need to keep the ball moving and try to emphasize the Murray, Millsap, Jokic magic that happened last night.
Mikash: The Nuggets recipe for beating the Warriors is always contest everything at the three point line while keeping ball movement at a maximum to get open shots from their own three point line. They also are going to need Durant and Curry to help them out like last time by not going all Curry and Durant on them. Color me skeptical the Nuggets can get it done...but maybe.
Lewis: Don’t get intimidated. They can’t mentally defeat themselves when Durant is knocking down shots that are contested, or Curry flips in a 30-foot shot or some ridiculous layup. If they stick to their guns and keep on fighting, it should be an interesting game.
How did the new Star Wars trailer make you feel?
Blackburn: A work of art. R.I.P. Carrie Fisher. Kylo Ren reminds me of Severus Snape. R.I.P. Alan Rickman. Now I’m sad.
Douglas: Intrigued. So many unanswered questions. Kylo Ren and Rey have a connection, but I just don’t know what it is. Does Rey go to the dark side? Does that mean Luke has to come out of retired seclusion to come kick everyone’s a$$ again? Also, did Chewbaca already replace Han Solo with a rodent?!
Mikash: Decently amped. I was not big fan of The Force Awakens, too much recycled story line, but Rogue One was awesome. I’m hoping The Last Jedi invests more in a unique plot. Also, Rey is going to turn to the darkside, you heard it here first.
Lewis: Whoooooo! Let’s get nerdy!