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Preview: The Nuggets have a dress rehearsal against the Thunder

Denver has their starting five healthy and playing for the first time this season

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nuggets will likely for the first time this season have all of their starting five healthy. Will Barton is likely going to make his preseason debut; and therefore the starting five will also make their preseason debut. That being Monte Morris, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon, and of course Petr Cornelie (only joking, Nikola Jokić will be playing in this game).

Another thing of note is that the Nuggets still have yet to find a win this preseason. That’s not to say you should panic though; as Saturday against the Wolves all starters had a plus-minus of at least +13, with everyone besides Monte Morris posting a +19 or better. So the starter have still been crushing it in their minutes.

It will be nice to finally see Thrill play for the first time since getting a new contract, and get a glimpse into what he can do in a bigger role — maybe a career year? Wouldn’t that be thrilling? It’d be against the Oklahoma City Thunder who are only known for some good Canadians and tanking; still, it would be an absolutely thunderous sight if he could put together a good performance.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK

When: 6:00 PM MST

How to Watch: NBA League Pass

Three Things to Watch

What’s the bench lineup?

Coming into this game we haven’t seen a fully healthy rotation, but with Will Barton returning to the lineup; someone is going to get kicked from the lineup, and it’s probably going to be a guard. Will it be Facu Campazzo, Bones Hyland, or Austin Rivers? In my opinion, it’s most likely going to be Austin Rivers. He just has the most overlap with PJ Dozier — who will be returning to his sixth man role. Bones has simply played too good this preseason to leave him out of the rotation, and Facu is one of Malone’s favorite players on the team with his tenacity. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was one of the other two, but they’ve been so electrifying I would find it a little surprising.

Can Bones Hyland put another team in the morgue?

Bones Hyland — who by the way has one of the best names in the league; seriously whether it’s Bones or Nah’Shon Hyland, they’re both just excellent names — has been great this preseason. Better than anyone expected him to be. He has a handle on the ball that makes it seem he has it on a string, he’s faster than lightning, and his playmaking has impressed me quite a bit. One question with him remains though: can he do this consistently? In my opinion, he’s shown no signs he can’t continue his storm of excellent play. He’s a rookie so he’ll make mistakes, but I don’t think Malone will be bolting to move him out of the rotation any time soon.

What does Will Barton look like as a starter?

Will Barton re-signed to the Nuggets with mutual understanding of a few things; one of which being he would be the starting shooting guard moving forward. With him returning from an ankle injury we’ll get to see what he looks like in the starting lineup and how he fits in with everyone. He already has great chemistry with most of the team, but how specifically will he play with this group? This remains to be seen.

While some may say PJ Dozier should be the starting shooting guard — there’s some merit to the idea because he’s more of a utility player — Barton would not have come back if he was not the starter, and the Nuggets wouldn’t have paid him that money if they didn’t see him as the starter either. So, keep an eye out for what Will Barton does: what actions are run for him, who he runs pick and roll with, if he develops a two man game with either MPJ or AG.