After an interesting performance from the Nuggets against the Nets, some questions have forced their way to the forefront. Namely, Mike Malone’s future.
So… the game against Brooklyn was pretty weird, right? Two days ago, the Nuggets played another road game and they looked like they were going to be absolutely embarrassed… by the Brooklyn Nets. No seriously, the Brooklyn Nets.
Denver lost every one of the first three quarters, which caused them to be down by 17 points heading into the final quarter (they down by as much as 29 points though). But by some miraculous reason, the Nuggets nearly managed to close the gap in the fourth quarter. Wilson Chandler a resurgence in the final twelve minutes of action, bringing the Nuggets within only two points.
Unfortunately, a last second turnover by Jameer Nelson directly caused another heartbreaking loss, but that can be forgiven after the team closed in on such a ridiculous gap. However, there was something a little weird about their comeback. Something was just a little off. It kind of felt like something was missing, or someone.
Well, if weren’t watching then you might not know that the Nuggets actually did make their comeback without someone: Mike Malone. That’s right, Denver nearly completed a huge comeback almost immediately after their head coach was ejected from the game. After a loss like that, to the Brooklyn Nets, and a near comeback like that, without their head coach, you wouldn’t be blamed for being a little disgruntled.
Unfortunately, being disgruntled may lead to some swirling rumors. In this case, that probably means that Malone may end up on the hot-seat going forward. But this topic seems a little heavy for just one writer to handle, so I’m going to need some help from my fellow Dig In Denver writers:
Mike Malone had an unsuccessful stint in Sacramento, and it seems as though that trend is continuing in Denver. Still struggling to commit to a solid rotation, players aren’t seeing consistent playing time. The Nuggets have a very young, deep, and talented roster, but they need a coach who can develop that young talent into success. Malone simply is not that guy. Although it would be nice to see a big name come to Denver (someone like a George Karl type figure), that isn’t a very realistic option. However, the organization should be doing some research on who the next coach of the team could possibly be. Mike Malone isn’t the answer for the long run. As the season progresses, look for Malone’s name to be on the hot seat.
YO!!! Hold up! Time out!! TIME OUT!!! Ya’ll take a chill! Ya need to cool that stuff out!! And that’s the double-truth Ruth! Seriously, Malone has only been the Nuggets head coach for just over 1 and 1/4 seasons. I mean, that’s barely even the same amount of time he had in Sacramento before he was fired… which was something all NBA analysts thought was unfair, considering how close he was to his players (namely DeMarcus Cousins). I think we all just need to relax and realize that Malone isn’t Brian Shaw. The players aren’t breaking pre-game huddles with, “1,2,3, six weeks.” There aren’t any verbal altercations between he and the players, and they aren’t cancelling shootarounds. Players actually like Malone, and I think that we just have to be more patient going forward.
Personally, I don’t think the Nuggets should move on from Malone. If you look at the roster with how much young talent is on it and how many ISO players we have it’s hard to believe none of these egos have collided. He has handled the personnel well and it’s hard to imagine someone else could have done it better. Yes I know his rotations are a little out of control but everyone has to be given time to learn. He’s a fairly new coach and he went from having one superstar and a bunch of below average players to a team with no clear superstars, players who think they should be superstars and players with the potential to someday become stars. I mean if we’re talking about moving on due to mistakes we should have moved on from Emmanuel Mudiay last season. This team is young and needs time to grow and that doesn’t only include the players it includes the staff, consistent teams have proven to be the teams that are better off in the long run. We also have to hold the players accountable. There’s no reason you should ever start a game with 9 turnovers in the first quarter as they did with Philly. A toddler could be the coach and the team shouldn’t be turning the ball over this much and that is veterans included. I think we should focus on developing our young talent and that’s hard for Malone to do when people are constantly coming for his neck every time the team loses a game.
As we sit one quarter though the NBA season, many Nuggets fans have Michael Malone on the hot seat. The 45 year old coach, in his second season with the Denver Nuggets is struggling to beat sub .500 teams as well as win the close games. All the blame cannot be put solely on Malone, though. He inherited a team full of youngsters and no superstar, which makes winning in the NBA these days very difficult. He has had some coaching hiccups and questionable calls this season, but that’s going to happen when you are searching for the winning lineup. There is no reason to give up Malone just yet. If he and the Nuggets young squad can start closing out these close games I think we are writing an article on him being Coach of the Year instead of being on the hot seat. It is only his second year with the team and I believe if they start trending upward instead of downward he has a chance to be the Nuggets coach for years to come. At the end of the season or maybe even the All-Star break, we will know all we need to know about Coach Malone and where he stands.
When the Nuggets let go of then Coach of the Year George Karl back in 2013, many questioned whether the Nuggets would be able to attract another coach that performed as well as Karl. While we all know the Brian Shaw experiment failed miserably, the signing of former Kings Head Coach Michael Malone spread hope to the mile high faithful, was this the coach to finally help the Nuggets get back to the playoffs? A little over a year into his Nuggets tenure we ask the same question as we did when he was hired, is he the guy? I will say that coaching this very deep and talented, while still raw, Nuggets team is no easy task, but Malone has failed to nail down a set rotation and distribute minutes properly. We have seen Jameer Nelson average a little over 26 minutes a game, including usually always being on the court in the key moments of the game. Malone seems to trust Jameer much more than he does Emmanuel Mudiay, this was highlighted in the Nuggets 116-111 loss to the than 5 win Brooklyn Nets team, where we saw Mudiay only play 18 minutes. Another Malone characteristic that seems to make Nuggets fans more and more frustrated every game is Jamal Murray‘s lack of minutes. After Michael Malone got tossed when he receiving two technical fouls vs the Nets we saw assistant Wes Unseld Jr step in to coach the remainder of the game. Right off the bat we noticed that Jamal Murray played, and he played a lot. And guess what happened when he was out there? The Nuggets performed much better than they were when Malone was on the court. Too many times this season we have seen the starters come out and lack the energy needed to win, the same cannot be said about Jamal Murray however. He seems to always bring his A-game whenever he touches the court, always sparking the team with his outstanding shooting and hustle. Malone needs to recognize this and start utilizing Jamal more and capitalize on the great set of skills he possesses and the rare ability to make everyone else on the court a better player. While there is still time in this season for Malone and the Nuggets to turn it around, I do not feel that Michael Malone is the coach to lead this team back into the playoffs for the first time since 2013.