The Denver Nuggets are in San Diego for training camp and the morning portion of practice of day one is complete. Afterwards, Michael Malone addressed the media and talked about first practices, top priorities, and much more. Check out the full audio of his media availability down at the bottom of this column.
On day one of camp
Today’s first day was like every other first day I’ve been a part of. What I mean by that...the energy was great, guys were excited to be out on the court, finally, to start training camp. So the energy, the excitement was a huge positive but everybody tried to do too much on the first day, so gets a little frenetic, a little bit sloppy at times. That’s to be expected. So we’ll watch film tomorrow, we’ll clean some things up. So all in all it was a great first practice.
On the top priority at camp
As I told our team last night...it’s no secret we have to do better defensively. Last couple of years we have a unique offensive identity and we’ve become a premiere offensive team in the NBA. It’s not secret. But on the other end of the ball there has to be buy-in, there has to be commitment, there has to be improvement.
Not take away from the offense, but if our defense improves it will only strengthen our offense.
On Paul Millsap’s comment about Denver’s ability to be gritty on defense
I think anytime you can add grit and toughness, those intangible, I think those go a long way, especially on that end of the floor. To Paul’s point, positionally, being in the right place at the right time, knowing your rotations, knowing the game plan, having discipline on that end of the floor is also just as important. So I think it’s a combination.
I’ve been a part of some great defensive teams and we didn’t have the toughest guys in the world. But they knew where to be, they were very intelligent, they anticipated. Then I’ve been around some other guys who were guys that you just hated playing against because of that grit, that toughness that you speak of. And I think that depends to the individual.
But collectively, no matter who is on the floor, what five guys are out there, we have to find a way to be improved. Grit, positionally, whatever it may be. Discipline, communication, and multiple effort are kind of the three things we are hammering home on that end of the floor.
On when he heard that the team had re-signed Will Barton
My first reaction was relief. I knew that there was a chance that Will Barton could’ve gone elsewhere. There was a lot of other teams that were interested in him that were willing to offer him big money. So when I found out that he decided to stay with us it was a huge relief. I was in constant communication with him the whole time letting him know how important he was to me and to this team and to our future.
On Will Barton’s voice inside the locker room
It’s growing. I think Will is one of those guys who is finding his voice and getting comfortable with his voice and not afraid to use it. I thought he did a great job today in practice of being vocal with his teammates on defense. Tim joked the other day at the press conference, ‘there’s Will Barton and then there’s Thrill.’ When he join that starting lineup, we need Will Barton to be Will Barton. That’s not time for Thrill. He’s got to buy in and do all of the little things and be disciplined.