The Denver Nuggets kicked off the 2017-18 season with Media day. The Nuggets brass spoke to the media before the players made themselves available for questions.
The Denver Nuggets season officially kicked off with Media day on Monday. The event began with a press conference that included remarks from General Manager Arturas Karnisovas, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and Head Coach Michael Malone.
The players were available to the media following the press conference and Dig In Denver was able to secure interviews with Tyler Lydon, Torrey Craig, Trey Lyles and Malik Beasley. Look for those interviews to be posted soon and don’t miss an opportunity to hear from some of the Nuggets new faces.
The conference itself provided the Nuggets brass with an opportunity to shed some light on what their expectations and goals are for the upcoming year. Malone spoke about the team’s priorities this season and as you might expect, there was a major theme.
1. Defense, defense, defense
The Nuggets were one of the league’s worst defensive teams last year and an improvement on that end is obviously the focus as the new season approaches.
When asked what the first day of training camp would look like, Malone responded with:
“Tomorrow’s practice will be all defensive drills. Send our guys a message.”
He was asked if this increased focus on the defensive side of the ball could ultimately hurt the teams offense, but he wasn’t concerned:
“If our defense improves, that helps the offense. Gives us more time to run and attack.”
2. The Starting Line-up Is Set (Almost)
According to Malone, four of the five positions in the Nuggets starting line-up are already set: Gary Harris will start at shooting guard, Wilson Chandler at small forward, Paul Millsap at power forward and Nikola Jokic at center.
That leaves only one spot up for grabs, the starting point guard position. If you’re looking for a key storyline this preseason, it’s the position battle at the one.
Malone doubles down that it will be an open competition for Denver's starting PG spot between Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray & Emmanuel Mudiay.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) September 25, 2017
3. Competition at Point Guard and Power Forward
As you might expect, something coach Malone wants to see in his starting point guard is the ability to defend. Coach said he’ll have his eye on:
“Which point guard can defend his man one-on-one and can guard pick-n-roll defense.”
The team signed defensive minded forward Paul Millsap in the offseason—that will help, but the next step is finding a point guard who can provide quality perimeter defense.
As for the other log jam, we all know the team has a plethora of power forwards. It will be nearly impossible for all of these players to see minutes night in and night out. As Malone said:
” (It’s) going to be a battle as to who earns those back up power forward minutes…”
Between Paul Millsap (who will see the bulk of the minutes) Kenneth Faried, Trey Lyles, Juancho Hernangomez, Darrell Arthur, and rookie Tyler Lydon, minutes are going to be hard to come by. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up in training camp and who ultimately earns those back up power forward minutes.
4. Kenneth Faried Insists He’s a Starter
The manimal’s time in the mile high city may be coming to an end. It’s been speculated for a while now that the Nuggets might try to move Faried. With the acquisition of Paul Millsap, that now seems almost inevitable.
Faried is best when he’s on the floor with playmaking big man Nikola Jokic, but considering he’s now a backup on the Nuggets roster, he doesn’t fit quite as well with this team as he has in the past.
Faried told the media on Monday that he deserved to be a starter. If the team didn’t give him the minutes he deserved than he would take this talents elsewhere.
Kenneth Faried: "I'll just put this out there. I. Am. A. Starter."
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 25, 2017
The Faried situation will certainly be one to watch in camp and rumors are sure to swirl regarding potential trades. If this is how Faried feels, he may have to hope one of those rumors is true.
6. Expectation’s are to make the Playoffs
The general vibe on media day was one of excitement—excitement that the team is finally moving in the right direction. The Nuggets have lofty goals and that includes making the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Playoffs were a hot topic at media day and while Tim Connelly confirmed that a postseason appearance is on everyone’s mind, he stressed that the team can’t skip steps in the process of getting there.
When asked about the potential pursuit of the recently bought-out Dwyane Wade, Connelly offered this perspective:
“We have to be painfully realistic of where we are in the Western Conference. Can’t skip steps…”
It seems the Nuggets are content with their roster as is and they don’t plan on altering it by acquiring a veteran like Wade. As Connelly said, skipping steps doesn’t do you any good and the Nuggets organization seems aware that they’re still a few years away from truly contending.
With all that said, the Nuggets still have every intention of finally re-entering the postseason. Even in the tough Western Conference the Nuggets aren’t afraid of the competition. In fact, Connelly says they welcome the challenge:
“(We) Aren’t afraid of the challenge. I wouldn’t want to play against us…”
7. The Nuggets Will Have a New Court Design This Season
The Nuggets will debut a new court this season. The court will be highlighted by the teams 50th anniversary logo at mid-court.
Nuggets new court for the season featuring the teams 50th anniversary logo at main court pic.twitter.com/S6VLKzwk3d
— Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip17) September 25, 2017
Those were the highlights of the media day presser. Keep your eyes peeled for Dig In Denver’s exclusive interviews with the players.