Welcome back to the Denver Stiffs Mailbag! Let’s get right into some interesting questions, ranging from preseason speculation to the anticipated debuts of Michael Porter Jr. and Isaiah Thomas.

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These two questions are similar, and they broach the most interesting topic to wrap up the preseason.

Right now, the starters are set in stone. Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic all figure to play 30 or more minutes every game. After that, Trey Lyles has seemingly stepped into the sixth man role vacated by Barton, and Mason Plumlee remains a major part of things off of the bench. Due to the injury of Isaiah Thomas, backup point guard has become an easy decision as well and will feature Monte Morris for 16-20 minutes per game most nights.

The real question is on the wings. Ideally, two of the three of Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, and Torrey Craig would step up and make the decision easy for head coach Michael Malone, and so far, Malik Beasley has stood out.

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“Regardless of how the coaching staff viewed Beasley before the preseason, he has earned an opportunity to prove his performance was real when the games matter.”

In the first four games, Beasley has begun to showcase why he was a first round pick in 2016. He leads the trio in plus-minus, has shot the ball most efficiently, and has the least turnovers despite playing the most minutes. Regardless of how the coaching staff viewed Beasley before the preseason, he has earned an opportunity to prove his performance was real when the games matter.

After that, the 10th spot gets dicey. Hernangomez shot the ball slightly better and rebounded well, but Craig generally matched up with the opposing team’s best defender and was Denver’s best option on defense. Both showcased why they were valuable, and it wouldn’t surprise me if either was selected for the regular rotation. My guess: Craig gets the first opportunity to see if he can turn his shooting around when he ditches the protective mask he’s been wearing. His defensive mentality and ability to switch on the perimeter is very valuable. If he doesn’t shoot any better, then Juancho will probably get his chance.

I expect Beasley to settle into around 15-18 regular minutes off the bench while Juancho and Craig continue fighting for the last 12-15 minutes in the rotation throughout the year.

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I’ve been there. As a student currently in Columbia, South Carolina, it’s never easy trying to watch Nuggets games.

For that reason, I recommend purchasing the one team pass that the NBA provides. It’s cheaper than the league-wide one, and if you’re solely interested in the Nuggets, it’s the way to go. Every game, other than nationally televised games, becomes available during or after the fact. As long as you have cable for when the Nuggets do play a nationally televised game, every game should be watchable.

As far as the playoffs go, every playoff game is nationally televised. The Nuggets would likely be one of the teams that plays on NBATV though, which isn’t typically offered in most cable packages. If you receive NBATV though, never fear for the playoffs. Every single game should then be available to watch, whether Denver plays on ESPN, TNT, or NBATV.

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That’s awesome! The Durango to Denver drive is a doozy.

While I’d love to see Isaiah Thomas back and healthy in a Nuggets jersey as well, I don’t think he’ll be ready. There haven’t been any hints or indicators from the Nuggets that he’s on track to be ready by October 20th, and from the sound of things, they aren’t rushing him. He’s an excellent player when healthy, and the Nuggets want to make sure he gets back to being the explosive player he was in Boston rather than the one trying to gut things out in Cleveland and Los Angeles.

My guess is that he will be ready sometime in November, but that’s just speculation.

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This is like picking between my two favorite foods. At this point, I expect Isaiah Thomas to do more this season. His veteran leadership, experience, and skills should all help Denver excel as the year wears on.

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But the answer has to be Michael Porter Jr. right? No one in their right mind thought MPJ would drop to the 14th overall pick. On draft night, I remember being at Pepsi Center wondering whether selecting him or Zhaire Smith was the right call. In retrospect, the Nuggets took a big swing for a reason. MPJ has a chance to be a top 10 player in the NBA if he hits his ceiling, and Denver controls his rights for the next seven years. It’s hard to look beyond that simple statement.

Both debuts will be exciting. Seeing Jarred Vanderbilt in uniform is also something I’m excited for. Either way, once those three get healthy, Denver will have some serious issues finding rotation minutes for everybody.

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The current events in Minnesota are insane. Butler asked for a trade four weeks ago, and since then, teams have apparently trashed Minnesota’s front office structure, Pat Riley called Tom Thibodeau a “m*****f***er,” Butler crashed practiced on Wednesday, and SB Nation even changed the Canis Hoopus logo to the “this is fine” dog.

The team is so toxic right now that I think you have to trade Butler and get him as far away from the organization as possible. Pulling those shenanigans can’t be funny to the T-Wolves, especially owner Glen Taylor, who mandated a Butler trade be made. While it sounds like Thibs is putting a wrench in the plan, the primary objective is to get Butler out of town.

BUT…..it also sounds like Taylor doesn’t want to fire Thibs and give him the remaining $24 million on his contract. If Taylor refuses to fire Thibs, and Thibs works best with Butler, then maybe committing to that tandem and moving Karl-Anthony Towns makes sense….

I can’t even say it with a straight face. No. Just no. Fire Thibs, trade Butler, and commit to the player that just signed a max extension with the T-Wolves. This isn’t difficult, and everybody in the Wolves organization is making it impossible. As punishment, the team should be stripped from Taylor and relocated to Seattle.

That’s it for this mailbag. Remember, if you have a question, use the hashtag #BlackMail to reach out on Twitter. There will be much to discuss in the coming weeks, and it’s exciting to have basketball back in full swing!

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