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Preseason game No. 8 | Denver Nuggets (3-4) vs Dallas Mavericks (2-4)
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado | 7:00 PM MST | TV: No TV
As the lengthy eight-game preseason schedule comes to a close, the Denver Nuggets have their final preseason challenge in the form of the new and revamped Dallas Mavericks. After dropping a game to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which may have been their worst showing of the preseason thus far, the Nuggets are looking to bounce back and go into their first regular season matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans with some positive momentum.
As the final preseason game approaches here are three things to watch for if you happen to find a way to tune into the non-televised preseason game.
Jamal Murray and Juancho Hernangomez have their last chance to prove themselves before the regular season
Throughout the preseason the two players who have received the most substantial boost in playing time have been Murray and Hernangomez. While the injuries to Gary Harris, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Darrell Arthur have made it easy to start incorporating the young rookies into the main rotation it seems that they have started forcing Micheal Malone to give the two even more meaningful minutes.
Being that Murray is still 19-years old and Hernangomez turned 21 during training camp, there has been and will continue to be ups and downs throughout each rookie’s development. Regardless, both of them will, undoubtedly, have to work through their own rookie mistakes. It is their work ethic outside of games and the way they each use their own style of play and find a way to assert themselves while still having a high enough basketball IQ to not be a consistent negative on the court that has led to their boost in playing time.
The final preseason game is the last chance for both rookies to prove that they belong in the rotation going into the regular season. With the Nuggets issues with injuries last season, expect Denver to either hold out both Mudiay and Arthur or play them very sparse minutes leaving the door open for extended playing time for both Murray and Hernangomez. Look for each to leave their mark on this final preseason game.
Wilson Chandler shaking off the rust
Going back to last season the Nuggets two most obvious issues were there inability to defend and score from beyond the three-point line. The boon the Nuggets have felt this preseason from the addition of Wilson Chandler and his overwhelming versatility on the perimeter is as welcome of a sight as any.
While Chandler is still shaking off the rust he has still been productive in a multitude of different ways whenever he’s entered the game. His quickness and length on the perimeter when paired with one of Harris, Gallinari or Barton will do wonders for freeing up effort in other capacities for his teammates. Hit shooting has opened up the paint and being that the Nuggets are seemingly going to start Jokic and Nurkic together, the addition of another shooter does nothing but add much-needed space to the half court offense. Add in his veteran leadership and calming presence off the bench to an already explosive second unit and the possibilities of the Nuggets roster as a whole become much more diverse.
Overall, seeing Chandler back and confident may be the most important aspect of this preseason moving forward. While the majority of Denver’s ceiling this season has to do with how the younger players develop,it is Chandler’s versatility that will be just as instrumental.
How well will Nikola Jokic defend Dirk Nowitzki?
The looming question surrounding the idea of starting Jusuf Nurkic with Jokic is weather Jokic can guard power forwards who are more perimeter oriented. While the results have been a roller coaster of ups and downs so far this preseason, Jokic will get one more chance to prove himself against a future Hall-of-Famer in Nowitzki.
While Nowitzki is not as fleet of foot as he once was, he still brings a savvy and methodical veteran presence from the perimeter for Jokic to contend with. With Nowitzki having every move in the book, whether he’s facing up or backing down his opposition, it will be a solid challenge for Jokic, who is still becoming comfortable defending stretch fours.
Jokic must be able to defend out to the perimeter at a league average level for the twin towers frontcourt to be feasible as a potentially dominant lineup going forward. While this matchup for Jokic will not be the deciding factor in his ability to defend out to three, it does provide the opportunity for him to take another step to developing the skill of defending out to the perimeter.