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Denver Nuggets Michael Malone: Lather Rinse Repeat Repeat

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
Michael Malone finds a way to get his message home
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center.

Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center.

Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center.

Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center. Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center. Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center. Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center.

Phew. Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? There’s a generalized psychology principle often used in marketing that says you have to get your name or message in front of a customer at least seven times before they’ll remember it (hence the Jokic overkill above). It’s actually a little more nuanced than that, depending on what it is you’re trying to get across, and how memorably you can do it. The underlying truth of the matter is that in a day and age in which everyone is competing for a piece of your mindshare/memory, you typically have to hammer your message home before you get it to stick in someone else’s mind. For instance, did you know that Nikola Jokic is a top NBA center?

Thank goodness Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is committed to these repetitive principles, as he’s been talking about defense in Denver since the day he got here, as evidenced below:

(Malone starts his brief two-minute greeting just after the 3:00 mark)

On Sunday, it will be four years since Malone got to introduce himself to Denver. There were a few wonderfully bold statements in the video above for which he now seems quite prescient, but there were some heavy doubters going into his new assignment, and in the years to follow. The biggest flaw in Malone’s prediction had been how he’d introduce defense into the Nuggets equation, and he was the first to say so in his post-season assessments of 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-2018.

By the 2018-19 preseason, the topic and response was one that most of the team had down to a very similar patois. Many of the Nuggets players spoke of Malone’s insistence on improving on the defensive end season after season. Jokic, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, and Gary Harris all referenced Malone’s defensive urgency in their ear from the moment they hit training camp. There was still substantial cause to doubt their prospects, as the team had finished in the bottom third of the league over each of Malone’s first three seasons. The team’s close-but-no-cigar finishes had driven them to realize something needed to change to alter their fortunes and trajectory.

Those realizations came just as they’d finally spent enough time together to play cohesively on the defensive end of the floor. The Nuggets rise to prominence in 2018-19 was a direct corollary of their transformation into a top-10 defense. To offer even more hope, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Denver spent much of the season with the best defense in the league in the fourth quarter, knowing when it was, as Will Barton aptly called it, “Winning Time.” If the Nuggets can return for the 2019-2020 season able to expand the amount of time they can defend at that level, they might just find themselves one step closer to the title that has eluded them thus far.

So, suppose you’re Michael Malone, and you’ve seen each of your introductory goals realized. With your ultimate goal an actual possibility, and seeing the way you and your team have grown in 1,458 days, you have to take this offseason to reflect on what got you here in the first place. The behaviors, practices, and messages that carried you forward.

And then you lather, rinse, repeat.



Repeat repeat repeat repeat.


The Denver Nuggets defense will _________ in 2019-20.

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    (203 votes)
  • 31%
    be about the same
    (97 votes)
  • 3%
    (10 votes)
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