What was your biggest takeaway from the Nuggets first preseason game?
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): The thing that stood out to me the most is that it’s going to take everyone a minute to get to know each other. From the starting unit to the bench unit, everything just seemed out of wack at times and that goes hand in hand with all the new additions to the roster. It’s going to take a little time for Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Nicola Jokic to mesh as a starting unit and even that didn’t look bad at times in the first preseason game.
As the bench goes, Facundo Campazzo was unreal, but it’ll still take some time to create that on floor chemistry with guys Monte Morris, Isaiah Hartenstein, and even PJ Dozier. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Malone handles the rotations in the final two preseason games and hopefully both the bench and starting units can start to build that chemistry before the regular season begins.
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): That the starting lineup is still trying to figure some things out. It’s understandable that the timing of things is a little bit off and the chemistry might not be perfect, but it certainly feels like the starting group was a bit disjointed. Nikola Jokić seemingly had no issues, but all four of Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap had some difficulties at various points. The starters generated just 14 three-point attempts between them, and the 1-on-1 defense of Harris, Porter, and Millsap left a lot to be desired. It’s possible that the group just needs more time, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the group needs another wing out there that can create like Will Barton.
Daniel Lewis (@denverstiffs): Lots of new faces on the team. It was definitely a sloppy game, with a ton of turnovers and fouls. Both sides looked like they were struggling to figure out what to do, and the Nuggets bench struggled the most. Dozier looked really lost at times on offense, and Hartenstein was too physical at times. Even MPJ looked like he was feeling some jitters, missing some easy shots. It was obvious that they are still working things out as they get ready for the season to start, but once the games matter, I expect to see a lot more production from Jokić and Murray. The Nuggets will be fine.
Which player impressed you the most?
Ewing: Facundo Campazzo is the only answer and he might already be my favorite Nuggets player of all-time. Campazzo was playing like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals in the Nuggets FIRST preseason game. His energy was absolutely infectious and I can’t wait to see if he can keep it up not just in the final two preseason games, but over the course of an entire regular season. If Campazzo can keep this up, he’s going to play a big role in the Nuggets success this season.
Blackburn: I’m going to cheat and share two. Obviously, Facundo Campazzo will get a lot of the attention, but Zeke Nnaji came into the game and immediately made an impact on both ends of the floor. He switched onto guards and wings defensively while collecting a block, and he hit some shots offensively. Campazzo was the story though, zipping around and making plays on both ends with his energy, attention to detail, and creativity below the rim. Nuggets fans are going to love Facu.
Lewis: It was Jokić for me. There was a shiny new toy effect with Campazzo, but Jokić had 26 and 10 without even trying. Even in a game that didn’t matter, Jokić was dominant. His catch and finish on the Murray drive and dish was incredible.
What do the Nuggets have to accomplish in their final two preseason games before the regular season begins?
Ewing: Continue to build that chemistry with the starting unit and find out who the sixth man is going to be. We already saw in the first preseason game that — at times — the bench unit looked like they need a scorer to bail them out. Will Barton is the likely candidate to fill that sixth man role, but he has to be healthy to start the season in order to do so.
Blackburn: I would like to see Denver create some efficient offense for Murray and Porter. There should be no questions about their talent and individual impact, but playing together, finding each other consistently in the flow of the offense, I have some concerns. The ball seemed to find Harris and Millsap frequently tonight. Denver should be hoping that it finds Murray and Porter in rhythm more consistently.
Lewis: Take and make more 3-pointers. They didn’t have a lot of open looks at the rim, and they weren’t threatening the Warriors defense with jumpers. It was nice to see Millsap and Nnaji make some outside shots, but it would be nice to see Morris and Campazzo take more jumpers to help stretch out the defense.