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Stiffs Mailbag: Altitude and Amazon, Bol Bol, Andre Iguodala, and more

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Answering Twitter questions from Denver Stiffs readers

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The mailbag returns this week after a one week hiatus. If you have questions, comment them down below or ask them on Twitter! Let’s get into it.


The Altitude TV situation took an interesting turn last Saturday when Mike Singer, Denver Nuggets beat reporter for the Denver Post, reported that Altitude was considering using the Amazon streaming platform as an exclusive platform to televise their games. This would effectively circumnavigate the network cable providers (DIRECTV, Comcast, and Dish) and allow Nuggets fans the opportunity to watch Nuggets games during the 2019-20 season, provided fans have an Amazon subscription.

Streaming games is an intriguing solution facing the current predicament Altitude finds itself in, but there are a number of roadblocks, the first being the TV deal the NBA signed with Turner Sports and ESPN in 2014. The NBA has an incentive to keep its fans away from streaming platforms through the 2024-25 season due to the agreement with networks like TNT, ESPN, and ABC, important factors in the growth of basketball on a national scale. Fans love to see their teams receive national attention, and it’s a privilege for most teams to bask in that national spotlight. Fans that can cut cable packages because their favorite team plays on a streaming service are exactly what the NBA is trying to avoid at the moment, even if it may be the future of the sport.

The second roadblock Altitude faces is the narrow audience on Amazon. With many streaming services available, a large percentage of Nuggets fans do not have and will not buy an Amazon subscription, thereby cutting the viewership Altitude worked so hard to increase this past season. Many fans will subscribe to Amazon in order to watch the Nuggets, but some won’t, and that gap represents millions of dollars lost in revenue for Amazon and the cut that Altitude would receive.

While I would be in favor of a streaming service to broadcast NBA games in the future, I don’t expect that to happen immediately, and Altitude attempting to finesse a deal right before the season begins feels like a long shot. Could it happen? Of course, but the more likely course of action is Altitude coming to terms with the cable providers on a deal that lasts the remainder of the NBA contract with Turner Sports and ESPN, through the 2024-25 season.


Bol Bol, Vlatko Cancar, P.J. Dozier, and Tyler Cook were all out and about on Saturday to represent the Nuggets organization at the 3v3 tournament and charity drive. I can’t speak to Bol’s conditioning specifically, but he appeared roughly the same size as he was on draft night. I was struck by how skinny his frame was standing next to Tyler Cook, whose legs look like they are made on steel. It’s impossible to make judgments on a player’s conditioning level by just looking at them though, and I’m sure he’s been working out, getting his body right, and preparing for the 2019-20 season. Nothing I have heard indicates otherwise.

Altitude TV’s Chris Dempsey seems to think he will make a tangible impact for Denver by the end of the season, and he’s well connected in the Nuggets organization.


The more I thought about it, the easier it became to answer: know-how.

What I mean by “know-how” is the self belief that the team is just better and just knows how to navigate certain situations. This comes from experience, something the Nuggets, one of the youngest playoff groups of all-time, just didn’t have going into the playoffs last season. At times, Jamal Murray looked tentative to make certain passes, or Gary Harris would defer back to the Nikola Jokic-Jamal Murray two-man game. Know-how means the group just knows how to win, knows exactly how to target its opponents, and squeezes the life out of the opposition until they collapse from the pressure.

The Golden State Warriors perfected this during the 2016-17 season, the year following the 73-9 mega run, when their average margin of victory was 11.6 points per game and never felt that close for a number of teams. They were so confident that they would win that they could struggle through a half of basketball on an off night and then explode in the third quarter. Their Net Rating during third quarters that season was +23.0 points per 100 possessions, 10 points per 100 better than second place. That is the perfect indication of when a team knows how good it is and has the utmost confidence.

The Nuggets don’t need to wait until the third quarter of course, but the natural progression of becoming a great team comes when a team knows how great it is and carries itself that way. No excuses for a loss, or waiting until the fourth quarter to start trying for real. The Nuggets have proven they belong in the discussion as a great team, and they must carry themselves that way. Not in an arrogant way or thinking they will walk in and dilly dally to a 12-point victory, but knowing that the opponent doesn’t want to play the Nuggets that night and proving their fears correct with a 25-point drubbing.


The Nuggets did make huge strides last season defensively, and it had a lot to do with three factors: the health of Paul Millsap, the improvements of Nikola Jokic, and the solidifying of the bench unit by Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, and Mason Plumlee. Millsap was an elite defender and combined solid skills defending bigs with the intuition of an elite team defender. Jokic worked on his team defense as well and performed admirably in space this year. The bench wasn’t perfect on defense, but they were comfortable with each other and had the chemistry to defend opposing benches during the regular season with Plumlee captaining the group.

This year, I expect the top three Nuggets defenders to be the same as last year: Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, and Torrey Craig. Jerami Grant is right on the edge of overtaking one of those spots, but he will have enough to worry about learning the Jokic offense before taking off as a defender the next few years. I expect Millsap to remain the best of the group on a per-minute basis, but Harris (if healthy) will play the most of the three. It became evident that the Nuggets were at their best in the playoffs with Jokic and Murray carrying the offensive load and Harris doing his best to make life hell for opposing guards and wings. It’s difficult to predict whether Craig will be in the permanent rotation in Denver to have enough impact to qualify for this exercise, but he’s a great defender in the right situation that can grow into an All-Defense caliber option if he takes the next steps.

As for the three worst defenders, I just don’t think those guys will play at all. The worst defender will probably be Bol Bol, if only because he’s not ready to anchor a defense at the center position, though he does have the tools to succeed in the future. The next two worst are probably two of the following three in Juancho Hernangomez, Michael Porter Jr., and Vlatko Cancar, but Juancho has shown signs of improvement during the FIBA World Cup and nobody has seen Cancar defend NBA caliber forwards in a game situation that matters. Nobody knows what Porter will provide, but if he proves to be the worst of the bunch then he probably won’t play at all.


News appeared earlier this week that the Memphis Grizzlies, shockingly, were assuming that Andre Iguodala, who was under contract, would report to training camp at the mandatory date. He clearly doesn’t want to be there, and in what could be his final NBA season, he would rather the Grizzlies buy out his contract so he can finish his career on his own terms. The bad news for Iguodala is that he’s extremely valuable to contending teams and the Grizzlies know that, so they have been holding out for a first round pick.

The Nuggets, who just used a first rounder to acquire Jerami Grant, cannot afford to use a second one on Iguodala. In addition, the Nuggets have a number of young players who could be interested in pursuing a larger role to earn their next contract. The Grizzlies may be willing to forgo their demand for a first round pick if the Nuggets are willing to move Malik Beasley; however, that would be a tough pill to swallow for Denver and I don’t expect them to do that either. The best young player the Nuggets would probably be willing to part ways with is Juancho Hernangomez, especially given the presence of the incoming Iguodala in that scenario.

The ideal trade for Iguodala would be one that clears up the rotation for the Nuggets at small forward without giving up too many assets. Whatever happens in Nuggets training camp and in the preseason will determine who the Nuggets may be willing to part with in any significant deal. If Porter proves he’s ready for a significant role, the Nuggets may decide they want to clear up space for him in the rotation and move someone like Beasley or Hernangomez.

Regarding Barton or Plumlee, Denver has a long way to go in determining how they will use Jerami Grant going forward. If the plan is to play him and Millsap strictly at power forward, then keeping Plumlee is extremely important. If the plan is to play Millsap and/or Grant at small ball center for a significant portion of the regular season, then Barton is the more important piece to retain. I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter, but whatever rotation the Nuggets decide to utilize, they should lean into it. Iguodala would be a strong addition to the roster though, that’s for sure.