Basically an entire offseason of time has passed since we last saw the Denver Nuggets play basketball on March 11. Since then the entire world has changed, and as a result the basketball world has convened at Disney for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
The Nuggets are in Orlando with one goal in mind. Getting there won’t be easy but now that Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and most of the key rotation players are in the bubble and accounted for the team can focus on a deep playoff run. The Wizards, on the other hand, find themselves at Disney summer camp on the off chance of making the playoffs. Without Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans, though, it seems that Washington’s time in Florida will be more focused on player development with an eye towards the future.
That doesn’t mean this exhibition game can’t be competitive. The last time the Nuggets and Wizards played on January 4 (the Ish Smith game), a shorthanded Washington shocked Denver in a 128-114 upset. The stakes might be much lower but both teams still have something to play for.
Who: Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets
When: 1:30 PM MST
Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, FL
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV
Rival Blog: Bullets Forever
|PG||Monte Morris||Dejounte Murray|
|SG||Torrey Craig||Derrick White|
|SF||Michael Porter Jr.||Lonnie Walker IV|
|PF||Paul Millsap||DeMar DeRozan|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Jakob Poetl|
|Bench||Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, PJ Dozier, Troy Daniels, Bol Bol||Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, Keldon Johnson, Drew Eubanks|
Three Questions Heading into Today’s Game
How will Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic look?
Jamal Murray looks jacked. Nikola Jokic is arguably in the best shape of his life. The Nuggets’ two best players appear to have showed up in Orlando ready to make a statement, and this will be the first real look we will get at them. Murray has commented on how important it will be to get to the line more often and take more three-pointers, two areas which have held him back slightly. Jokic will be Jokic - he averaged 25.5/10/7.5 in February at right around the same weight - but after an asymptomatic bout with coronavirus earlier this month one has to hope there won’t be any lingering effects.
How will Michael Malone handle the rotations?
There are two factors that make this question relevant: (1) Malone himself told the media this week that for today’s game he will only have nine bodies available and (2) this game will be played with 10 minute quarters.
Unsurprisingly, late arrivals Gary Harris and Torrey Craig will likely not play which leaves somewhat of a hole in the backcourt and at the 3. Murray is the only point guard available so expect Will Barton III to do his fair share of ballhandling as well. The frontcourt is steady with Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee at 4 and 5. Small forward minutes seem to be up for grab. Yet to play in a Nuggets uniform, Troy Daniels will have his shot at earning rotation minutes for the regular season and playoff games but we’ve also heard rumblings of some other experimentation going on...
Will Bol Bol make his debut?
We’ve seen the YouTube highlights again and again, but this is the first time we’ve really been able to catch a glimpse of Bol Bol as an NBA player. Early returns are good - but does Bol actually have a shot at playing? He’s been practicing with the team this entire time and even admitted that he has been playing some at small forward. Given the lack of players already in Orlando all signs are pointing towards Bol making his debut, which would be the cherry on top of just being able to watch any Nuggets basketball again.