This week, you asked and we answered. I (@MallorieSalazar), was joined by Corban (@corbantheman), Garrett (@G_Olsen90), and Blake (@BucketsBlak3) for this round table and we will be answering the questions that you, the Nuggets fans, sent in.
Without further ado, here’s what you all came here for:
1. How many minutes a game should Juancho get going forward? And where do we work him into rotation when the team is fully healthy?
Mallorie: Juancho had a breakout performance on Monday night against Golden State, but the rookie was not nearly as impressive on Wednesday night against the Timberwolves as he only put up 3 points to accompany his 1 board and 3 assists. Do not get me wrong, Juancho has so much potential and I think he deserves to get 16-20 minutes per game to give him time to develop. As for the rotation, I think he needs to be worked in immediately. Depending on what happens on and before the trade deadline, we could be seeing a lot more of Juancho than we were in previous games.
Corban: I think the best thing for the Nuggets and for Juancho would be if he got between 20-25 minutes a game, either at the PF slot or as the first big off the bench. At this point it’s rather uncertain whether or not Coach Malone will have both Jokic and Plumlee in the starting lineup, but in my opinion he will, if at least to see how it works coming off the All Star game. He’s really showing signs of progress and rapid development, and it will be interesting to see his play moving forward.
Garrett: I think Juancho has earned at least 20 minutes per game. He should be inserted into the rotation immediately. I like his fit at the four, but I think he would really flourish at the three. He is a great athlete and I think could be a very aggressive and active at slashing towards the rim while Jokic runs the offense through point –center at the top of the key. He also has a great three-ball, which is essential for any potential small forward to play next to Jokic.
Blake: Honestly I know he’s doing rather well as a rookie but I still think he should be limited to his minutes to give him time to develop under the veterans.
2. Will the Nuggets make the playoffs?
Mallorie: Ideally, yes. Realistically, also yes. The Nuggets have been the sole holders of the 8th seed in the West for a few weeks now, but they need to continue having positive runs if they want to keep their hold on the eighth, or even overtake the seventh. The Nuggets making the playoffs will greatly depend on what happens post-trade deadline and with the veterans returning to the court, but overall, I foresee them making it into the playoffs if they keep up the momentum.
Corban: At this point, the Nuggets are going all in for the playoffs. The Plumlee trade was a sure sign of that, as the Nuggets went for and received an upgrade in their frontcourt. The Nuggets of course can go for the development side, and with the youth on their side they certainly can. However I feel that the Nuggets have too many veterans and are close enough to the playoffs (they’re currently in the 8th seed at 25-31) that a run definitely seems to be the ultimate goal. Look for Tim Connelly to focus on win-now players in the trade market.
Garrett: Yes, I believe the Nuggets will make the playoffs and, depending on how they attack the trade deadline, should be able to run away with the 8th seed and potentially catch OKC for the 7th seed, but 6.5 games back is quite a task. The Nuggets will have to string together multiple consecutive victory runs to catch OKC. Even if the Nuggets stand pat, I expect them to strongly contend for the 8th seed.
Blake: Eventually. This season? Hopefully. The Nuggets cannot lose momentum as the veterans get back on the court.
3. Is Nikola Jokic the answer to the Nuggets playoff drought? And can he get us to an NBA Finals in his career?
Mallorie: I truly hope that he can and will be the answer. Since the lineup change back in mid-December, The Joker has been killing it. On the season, he’s averaging 16.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game and the only way I see him going from here is up. He’s most certainly going to be the one who the Nuggets build their franchise around in years to come. Even if we don’t make it to the playoffs this year, I’m willing to call it now and say that he’ll lead us there next year. At his rate of improvement, I think he can get us to the finals during his career.
Corban: I think that Nikola Jokic is the answer. Maybe not this year, and probably not next year, but I definitely see a high ceiling with these young Nuggets and with Jokic they already have a budding centerpiece, a “main man” if you will. The best thing about this is that the Nuggets supporting cast is exactly the same players that make up their young core. With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and POSSIBLY Emmanual Mudiay, the Nuggets have enough to build with around Nikola Jokic to be a dominant force in the Western Conference for years to come.
Garrett: Jokic is a player who is rapidly developing into a star in the league. I think he is a great type of player to construct your franchise around. He is a player who makes everyone around him better. He may lead the Nuggets to a playoff appearance this year. Depending on how the Nuggets build their roster around him in the coming trade deadline and free agency will really determine if this team can make deep playoff runs in the future.
Blake: Nikola Jokic is the answer to the playoff drought and will make it into the finals. There is no doubt that Jokic is gifted with his point guard like abilities and for a big man whose team is great at spacing the floor and cutting to the basket, Denver should be a shoe in for the 8th seed.
4. Should the Nuggets be aggressive at the trade deadline or just stand pat?
Mallorie: I would have to say that the Nuggets should make trades for things that we absolutely need. I think that the trade for Mason Plumlee was just the beginning but ultimately, I don’t foresee many other huge changes. To be honest, we already have a pretty good thing going for us right now. While it’s uncertain if Danilo Gallinari will exercise his player option at the end of the season, I see a bright future for Juancho on this team, even if Gallo were either traded or chose not to stay in Denver. We continue to be a team that has a lot of depth and, if the front office sees a trade that is 100% unresistible, I say go with it. Otherwise, I think we’re okay where we are. I think the big moves will possibly come in the offseason. Ultimately, everyone wants a star but that’s what Nikola Jokic is.
Corban: I think the Nuggets should be “moderately aggressive”. The Nuggets have a decent assemblance of talent going both ways (young and old) and can go a number of ways.The first would be to trade veterans for picks and young prospects and build the team from the ground up with Nikola Jokic as the centerpiece. The second would be to embrace the roster that they have now, possibly make a couple of minor cosmetic trades to upgrade their roster and then to head to the playoffs with what they have. If I was Tim Connelly, I would take a measured approach with the roster, stick to a consistent plan, and only make a trade that he feels would be an absolute steal for his team. Don’t rush into a foolhardy trade/plan that is shortsighted and will only end in a net negative for the team moving forward in the long run.
Garrett: The Nuggets are always discussed as having a vast amount of “assets” and now is the time to cash in on them. The Nuggets could attack the trade market and look to upgrade at the point guard position or either of the starting forward positions. If the Nuggets can find a team who’s willing to sell a dollar bill for three quarters, a dime, and a 1st round draft pick, then they could find the very important star to plant next to Jokic. Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap would be the splashy move, but I expect a move even if it’s not flashy. The Nuggets need to find a way to open up more minutes for Murray and Juancho.
Blake: After picking up a much needed Plumlee, I don’t see a need to pick up anyone else. I know fans want to land a star but I think we got what we need.
5. With the Nuggets having so much money going into this offseason, who is the player that Nuggets fans should want the most?
Mallorie: One name I’ve been hearing from Nuggets fans within the past few months has been Jimmy Butler. Another I’ve heard has been Paul Millsap. I can’t say who Nuggets fans should want “the most,” per say, but I can say that those are the names I’ve heard from them that they’d like. I’ll even say that I’ve heard a large amount of people say they would like to see both Hernangomez brothers wearing blue and gold. I suppose that only time will tell.
Corban: I’m not very impressed with the Free Agent market moving forward to be honest. Dwayne Wade? Paul Millsap? Make a run at RFA Nikola Mirotic? No, no and probably not. The Nuggets seem to be pretty equipped in the frontcourt, and with a young guard corp, I would just stay cool on the FA front and focus more on developing the players they have. Maybe a veteran who knows his role would help (Andre Iguodala reunion anyone?) but who won’t take minutes away from the younger players. Think of the moves the Utah Jazz made this past offseason with the signings of Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.
Garrett: This is an interesting question. The 2017 free agency has some franchise players but it’s hard to see Kevin Durant leave Golden State or Blake Griffin leaving LA to come to Denver. Paul Millsap would be an excellent power forward next to Jokic, but he will be 33 at the start of what could be a max contract for at least 3 years. If Kyle Lowry decides he wanted to move back into the states, the Nuggets should take a run at him. This would signal the end of Mudiay and possibly Gary Harris, as Jamal Murray will be a starting guard next year or in the very near future. Dwayne Wade may test the free agent waters again if Chicago trades Butler, and other players the Nuggets may chase could be restricted free agent Otto Porter, Nerlens Noel, their own RFA Mason Plumlee etc. The Nuggets have a better opportunity to add a significant impact player via trade both at this years’ deadline and in the offseason.
Blake: All I’ve heard from the Nuggets fan base is Jimmy Butler. No one, and I mean no one, is getting off the Butler train until it actually happens.
6. Just for fun: Who has the best hairdo on the team? Who has the worst? And what do they need to do to clean it up?
Mallorie: I’ve always liked Kenneth Faried‘s dreads. I’ve also liked how Gallo switches it up and keeps it interesting for everyone.
Corban: Best hairdo? Probably Nikola Jokic (it helps when you’re also the best player. Worst haircut? Kenneth Faried. It’s just time for a change. Get a Mohawk or just a nice fade, but lets brush off the braids
Garrett: The best hair is probably Gallo because he always changes it up and keeps it interesting. The worst is also probably Gallo because his choices are usually very poor.
Blake: Best hair is definitely Kenneth Faried. The Manimal has some luscious dreads. Meanwhile Gallo is not rocking the rooster Mohawk. Get rid of it Gallo. Please.
Don’t forget, if you used the hashtag #AskDigIn, you’ve been entered to win two tickets to the Denver Nuggets vs. Boston Celtics game on March 10th at the Pepsi Center. This contest will be open for a few more days, so be sure to send us questions with #AskDigIn to be entered!