Who is your Denver Nuggets preseason MVP after two games?
First Last (@Twitter):
Peter Leensvaart (@petepizza27): I honestly think our preseason MVP is Bones, he simply has played great. He has shown the ability to get the shots he wants whenever he wants them and he gets to his spots well. Bones has also had some very tough finishes over the games we have seen so far and those really took me by surprise. Bones is almost a complete offensive player already and if he can become a good defender in years to come he could very well be starting next to Jamal Murray later in his career. I am all aboard the Bones hype train.
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): Preseason MVP is undoubtedly Bones Hyland. It isn’t about being the best player or the most impactful either. It’s about surpassing expectations, winning a job, and giving fans something tangible to cheer for. Bones has done exactly that, manipulating defenses to get to the rim, creating shots for himself and others at an efficient clip. Without Bones, the Nuggets would be decidedly less interesting, but he has captivating the audience in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.
Gage Bridgford (@GbridgfordNFL): I wish I had a different answer from the other two guys, but I just can’t do it. Nah’Shon Hyland has been everything you want to see out of a player in the preseason. He’s putting up points on the offensive end in flashy ways while involving the rest of the offense around him to keep the defense honest. This Nuggets roster has rarely involved rookies and young players heavily under Michael Malone, but it’s possible Bones is going to make himself impossible to ignore with this early play.
Who has made the best case for making the final roster after two games?
Leensvaart: I think the last roster spot will go to Tarik Black. The Nuggets don’t exactly have a whole lot of centers on the roster so if some of our bigs get banged up during the season Tarik Black is a good enough replacement for a few games. We have a ton of guard depth and same with forwards it’s only right we cap the roster off with a big man. While he hasn't played for us during the preseason I would not be surprised for him to make the final spot.
Blackburn: It’s difficult for me to see any roster changes at this stage. The Nuggets are entering the season with 15 guaranteed roster spots and their two two-way roster spots already filled. Nothing Markus Howard or Petr Cornelie have done have given me any reason to believe they won’t be on the roster on opening night. Conversely, nothing we’ve seen from Davon Reed, Tarik Black, or Matt Ryan has changed anyone’s mind either.
Bridgford: I’m going with Peter on this one. Denver has struggled with center depth the last few seasons, and Black gives them at worst a player that has played NBA minutes before. Ryan makes a solid point that the team is largely spoken for roster-spot wise, but, if someone is breaking into the conversation, Black has played well enough at a position that could use a little more depth from what we’ve seen the last couple of years.
Who is playing themselves out of a roster spot?
Leensvaart: No one is playing out of a roster spot, but Zeke Nnaji could be playing himself out of the rotation. He has simply looked bad this pre season. In the preseason game against the Warriors, Zeke fouled Chris Chiozza on a three with one second left on the shot clock and 9.6 to go in the game. Chiozza made all three free throws to go up by four and then the Nuggets lost by two. He is fighting for backup big minutes with both the Greens and Zeke hasn't been anywhere near the same level as either of them. Zeke Nnaji hasn't been all bad though as he has rebounded pretty well and shot the ball okay in the game against the Warriors (2/2 with 1/1 from 3).
Blackburn: Nobody, but if there was someone on the active roster that could have their seat a little warm, it would be Vlatko Čančar. The Slovenian forward was excellent in the Olympics playing next to Luka Dončić for the national team, but that momentum hasn’t carried over into preseason the way one might have hoped. Vlatko had a serious chance to compete for rotation time at backup small forward, but his performance in the first two preseason games has done nothing to earn him additional opportunities just yet.
Bridgford: I agree with Ryan, but it isn’t in the way that he might think. Vlatko has rarely given even average minutes in the NBA, and he’s playing at a position where Denver has a few bodies for once considering how shallow they’ve been at small forward in the past. He’s looked his best in international play, but he just hasn’t looked ready to contribute to a championship contender at any point. This preseason has only confirmed those thoughts.
Who are you most excited to watch over the final three preseason games?
Leensvaart: I am very excited to see the continuation of the Bones and Bol show. Those two have great chemistry on the court and both have very appealing skill sets. Bones has an electrifying play style and there’s only a few things I enjoy watching more than Bol Bol making step back threes. We all know how good they can be, we just have to see it night in and night out. I would love for these guys play big time minutes in the rest of the games and prove to Coach Malone that they deserve regular rotational minutes.
Blackburn: I want to see Will Barton get back on the floor. He’s the one guy in the primary rotation that we’ve seen zero minutes out of thus far due to injury. All of the chatter from him and from others at training camp was that he looked to be more explosive and revitalized, but he rolled an ankle in the second day of training camp and hasn’t been able to get back on the floor just yet. Hopefully, he gets fully healthy soon, gets on the floor, and proves he’s ready to go before the regular season begins.
Bridgford: Bol is the guy I want to see more of because he’s the one we haven’t really seen the most of thus far in his career due to injuries and other reasons. He can bring an interesting aspect to the team offensively if he can stay healthy, and this is one of the first times that we’ve seen him do that. We likely won’t see many minutes of Bol during the regular season, but I at least want to see him show during the preseason that he could be a rotation-level player.