The Denver Nuggets will get their first look at Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in their second preseason matchup on Monday night.
The Denver Nuggets are getting set for their second game of the preseason after they defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors 108-102 last Saturday. The Nuggets looked great on both ends of the court on Saturday and saw stellar games from Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Jamal Murray got the start at point guard in the first game, so keep your eye on that situation tonight. If the position battle truly is wide open, then perhaps Mudiay will get the start.
Mudiay shined on Saturday, scoring 19 points, adding 6 assists and shooting 3-4 from beyond the arc. While Murray was named the starter, Mudiay actually played in 8 more minutes against Golden State. Veteran Guard Jameer Nelson will miss his second consecutive game with a toe injury.
There’s another position battle happening in Denver though, and that’s for the backup power forward spot. After making it clear that he believed he’s earned the right to start, Kenneth Faried didn’t see one minute of playing time in the Nuggets first game. Faried’s competitor for the position, Trey Lyles, played 22 minutes while recording 6 points and 4 rebounds.
Lyles looks to be in a good position to win the backup power forward spot. This battle may be more one-sided than we expected if Faried is indeed stuck in Mike Malone’s dog house. Keep an eye on Faried’s playing time and body language in game two.
The Millsap/Jokic combo didn’t look as smooth as you’d hope in the Nuggets first game, and it’s something to watch moving forward in whether or not their chemistry will improve after a couple more games together. Expect Denver to get the two involved early.
As for the Lakers, Lonzo Ball is generating all-time preseason hype. This will be his first game at the Staples Center and the energy is sure to be high. The Lakers opened the preseason on Saturday in Anaheim. Ball scored five points on two-for-nine from the field, recorded eight assists and collected seven rebounds in the Lakers loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite his disappointing start, Ball will be the main attraction in Monday’s matchup. The Laker faithful have already bought in and they believe they’ve found the point guard of their future.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s was asked about Ball on Friday after the Nuggets final training camp practice.
“Special talent. Natural innate ability as a playmaker with his vision and making everyone around him better is exciting, and I think he’s one of the young up and coming players in the league.”
Malone said he’s heard comparisons to Jason Kidd, but that comparing Ball to a hall of famer is too much. Instead, coach suggested that we should just “let Lonzo Ball be Lonzo Ball.”
Ball projects to be a tough match-up for the Nuggets point guards. If Mudiay does indeed get the start, this matchup with Ball will be a good indicator of how much Mudiay has improved his man-to-man defense.
The game tips off at 8:30 p.m. mountain time. It will be televised locally on Altitude Sports and nationally on NBA TV. Check back in with Dig In Denver for the postgame recap.