Jamal Murray and the Camisa Ralph Lauren Denver Nuggets
Gary Harris on Jokic: ‘The kid can play’ (0:47)Gary Harris joins the Lowe Post Podcast to share his feelings on teammate Nikola Jokic. (0:47)FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprintcommentThe last straw for Mike Malone, fiery head coach of a rising League Pass darling searching Ralph Lauren Outlet for the effortless offense that made fans swoon, came when Nikola Jokic lollygagged getting back on defense during practice last week.
“I jumped him,” Malone says. “I jumped him very vocally.” Jokic protested that perhaps Malone should yell at the person who turned the ball over.
“I don’t give a s about the turnover,” Malone shot back.
Lowe: Who are the Suns now, after trading all their point guards?Does Phoenix have the young core of a winning team? Zach Lowe assesses the Suns’ collapse and their future after the Eric Bledsoe trade.
Lowe Post: Ingles On Journey, Hayward, MoreZach talks to Utah’s Joe Ingles about his one in a million path, Gordon Hayward leaving, American foibles, Quin Snyder’s midnight texts, Dante Exum hero worship, and more.
Last spring, Malone warned Jokic of the coming burden. He needed to get in better shape, and stay even keeled. “When s doesn’t go your way, sometimes you become a baby,” Malone told him. “You take bad fouls. You take bad shots. Your body language does this and that. You think it’s just about you. But what do you think Jamal [Murray] is looking at? Billetero Louis Vuitton What Deportivas Nike Air Max Baratas do you think Gary Camisas Ralph Lauren Harris is looking at? All eyes are on you. If you do that stuff, it filters down. At the end of the day, Nikola knows I love him.”
The team knows that is a lot to ask of a 22 year old second round pick who barely registered Nike Air Max 90 Blancas as a prospect until his late teens a hangdog, deadpan comic and self described ex “fat point guard” the Nuggets didn’t even speak to Camisa Ralph Lauren before picking him 41st in 2014. This is a man who had to kick a Coca Cola addiction measured in liters per day, who still wrestles his gigantic older brothers, Nemanja and Strahinja, in the home they share. (“I made Nemanja tap yesterday,” he says, refusing to show video proof.)
“It’s almost irresponsible of us to think he can carry the weight of our organization already,” says Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations.
That’s one reason they signed Paul Millsap to a Ralph Lauren Outlet three year, $90 million megadeal with a team option in Year 3 that and Millsap’s ability to cinch up the defense. When the team gathered in a private room at the Boulder Cork for dinner the night before its Billeteras Louis Vuitton mujer first practice, Malone delivered his keynote message: “Our offense was great,” he told them. “Our defense was s .” He launched a PowerPoint presentation filled with charts and graphs showing the varying ways in which the Nuggets’ defense failed before anyone had even been served alcohol.
Things are a little better. The Nuggets rank 18th in points allowed per possession after scrapping their old defense for an aggressive scheme in which they swarm ball handlers near the 3 point arc a style Millsap played in Atlanta:
That is a challenge for a plodder like Jokic. Denver sat Jokic back in the paint last season, but it didn’t work; opposing point guards saw a runway, revved up, and finished over and around him. Opponents feasted both from deep and at the basket. Malone was determined to at least make them pick up dribbles and swing the ball.
One good sign: only 28.5 percent of opponent shots have come at the rim, the lowest share in the league, per Cleaning The Glass. Whether that matters given the tradeoffs is unclear. Opponents are shooting well in the restricted area 63.5 percent overall, almost 68 percent with Jokic on the floor and passing around the traps, into more 3 pointers. The expected effective field goal percentage of Denver’s opponents based on the location of shots and nearby defenders is a tick higher this season, per Second Spectrum data.
Still: the players have bought in after spending the majority of practice time on defense. They are flying around in rotation. There is even a little anxiety within the organization that the Nuggets sacrificed some of their happy go lucky scoring identity in tilting the focus toward defense. Losing offensive guru Chris Finch to the Pelicans didn’t help.
Denver is down to 13th in points per possession after leading the league last season post Dec. 15, when Malone made Jokic a starter. (That date is scripture inside the Nuggets. Everyone knows it by heart, and mentions it often.) Last season’s symphony of backdoor cuts and no look slings has given way (on some nights) to a meandering slog:
Denver knew regression was coming. Everything orbited Jokic last season, but Millsap needs the ball and likes to hold it. He lives closer to the basket than Danilo Gallinari, his predecessor. More bodies clutter the paint when Jokic threads a bounce pass to one of his cutters. Look how little Millsap’s guys Carmelo Anthony and Quincy Acy need to travel to disrupt the deadly Jokic Harris two man game, and imagine how much Bolsos para hombre Louis Vuitton Baratos farther they’d have to go if they were hugging Gallinari around the 3 point arc:
The Nuggets try to distract Millsap’s defenders with decoy action on the weak side, but attentive opponents ignore it. Teams are ready for Jokic now. “Nikola isn’t surprising anyone,” Malone says.
NBATeams are straying farther from Wilson Chandler. Bench units are light on shooting.
Add it up, and Denver ranks an astounding 29th in points per possession in the half court, per Cleaning The Glass. Their shot selection has migrated away from the most profitable areas, toward the midrange. They are generating many fewer shots via cuts, per Synergy Sports.
“We are disjointed,” Malone says. “Jagged. There are growing pains with Paul.” They are still sussing out things as basic as where should everyone stand, and when.
“Paul is adjusting to us, and we are adjusting to Paul,” Jokic says. “It will just take time.”
They are subsisting on offensive rebounds and transition play. The beautiful game has turned grimy.
When things bog down, most teams ask their point guards to conjure magic. Denver can’t fall back on that after two decisions both the subject of frothy internal debate left the position in the hands of Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay.