If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.

First of all, welcome back to the NBA season. The Nuggets are 0-1 after their opening night loss to the Utah Jazz, but I’m not overly concerned about it. Jamal Murray is still on a minutes restriction, and the team has to get itself back up to speed. While I’m willing to take that loss with a grain of salt, there are still noticeable issues that will need to be addressed moving forward.  

Denver’s bench was absolutely rolled all game long. Of the nine bench players that saw action in Wednesday’s loss, Ish Smith, who was -2 in his five minutes of action, had the best plus/minus on the night. In fairness, the starters weren’t exactly crushing it during their minutes, although Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were both positive during their 35 minutes of floor time.

The bench struggled on both ends. Bones Hyland was the leading scorer with 10 points, and those nine players contributed just 24 points combined. All 24 of those points came from just three guys. Denver was supposed to have strong depth this season, and that was expected to help carry them while Murray and MPJ get rolling again. That wasn’t the case in Game 1, so it’s a good thing they have 81 to get it figured out. 

Bones Might be a Little Too Confident

Bones Hyland plays with an incredible amount of confidence. In order to be successful in this league, that is a must have. However, sometimes, I think that confidence can be a detriment to both he and the team. This play is a great example of that. He catches the ball in the corner from Bruce Brown Jr., and his immediate plan is to try and get a shot up. It would make more sense with the shot clock running down, but there are 13 seconds on the clock when he catches the ball. That’s plenty of time to pass the ball out and try to reset to run another play. Instead, he jab steps multiple times before rising up for the contested jumper that misses. 

This play is another example where Bones has his mind made up about what he’s going to do before he executes his plan. He’s driving to the lane, which forces the defense to begin collapsing on him. That’s great. That’s exactly what he needs to do. However, it’s how he finishes the play that shows where he has room for growth. Once Bones gets into the lane, he has the extra defender in front of him. If he keeps his eyes up and looking around the floor, KCP is open for a 3-pointer on the wing. Instead, he goes for the tough layup that ends the possession. Bones is talented and confident, but he still has some room to grow on the offensive end.

Backup Center Looks Like a Problem

This offseason, President of Basketball Operations Calvin Booth went to work to improve the roster. For the most part, his moves were applauded, with the lone exception being the signing of center DeAndre Jordan. While we’re only one game in, in which Jordan played just six minutes, those were a rough six minutes to watch. This play in particular was a big concern because it was the prime example of the concerns critics had over the summer. Jordan is not nearly as mobile and athletic as he once was. Mike Conley, who’s no spring chicken himself, just drives right past Jordan. Jordan has plenty of time to slide over and cut off the driving lane, but, for whatever reason, he’s delayed in his rotation. By the time he gets there, Conley is already past him and converts the layup while also drawing a foul on Jordan.

Picking just one play of this bunch to represent my second point was kind of difficult for a couple of reasons. The chief among those reasons being the fact that it’s hard to get a clip of a player not doing something when he never attempts it. Jordan played six minutes and attempted zero shots. His offensive calling card has always been his abilities as a lob threat and as a rebounder, and that spring just didn’t look like it was there anymore on Wednesday. After setting the screen and rolling to the rim, he just never looks like he would be able to catch and throw down an alley oop if it was thrown to him. Additionally, he registered just two rebounds on the night, and, most of the time, he was easily boxed out and just trying to muscle his way to a board. Unless a dramatic unaging process happens to Jordan, that area of the bench could be in for a long year.

The Framework is There

I understand that there are three starters on the floor for this play, but the main reason that I wanted to use it was to point out that the second unit guys know what they need to be doing and that they can do it. Of the three starters on the floor, Murray is the only one that’s an above average 3-point shooter, so the spacing isn’t just there because you’re surrounded by long-range gunners. Bones gets the ball out near the logo. He uses the screen from Nikola Jokic to gain a little separation. He stops driving and gets the defense rotating towards him. With his eyes up and looking at the rest of the floor, he sees Bruce Brown begin to flash towards the rim. He lets him clear through the passing windows before feeding him the ball for the big dunk. Those passing chops are there.

Now, this play is a little more difficult for the current second unit to execute. Jordan will never be shooting from the top of the key unless something has gone horribly wrong. However, the pick and pop will be there with Jeff Green and Zeke Nnaji when he gets more minutes. Again, Bones uses the screen from Jokic to get the switch, but Collin Sexton tries to stay connected to Bones, and that gives Jokic the wide open look from the top of the key. This bench has a lot of talent, but they need to start executing.

For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.