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Nuggets Player Grades: The best parts of Gary Harris' game shine through in Sacramento

Harrison Wind Avatar
October 29, 2019

The Nuggets played a C-level game of basketball Monday in Sacramento. Denver shot poorly from the field, converted under 30% of its 3s, and the Nuggets All-NBA center just didn’t have it. The Nuggets still eked out a 101-94 road win.

It was a testament to just how deep and talented this Nuggets team is and it takes two well played halves of basketball to beat Denver’s deep and versatile 10-man rotation. Stymie the Nuggets’ starting group and Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee will overwhelm you with their skill, length and athleticism. Halt Denver’s bench for a few possessions and the Nuggets come back with one of the best starting fives in the league.

The Nuggets are 3-0 and haven’t played close to their best basketball yet. That’s a scary thought for their upcoming opponents.

Let’s hand out some report cards:

Honor Roll

Gary Harris – A

This was such a quintessential Gary Harris game. He was on his toes defensively, weaving in and out of screens and tracking the sharpshooting Buddy Hield all game holding the Kings’ shooting guard to just five points on 2 of 13 shooting. If you’re a young aspiring hooper, watch Harris carefully on defense. He’s always in a stance. He always has his head on a swivel seeing his man and the ball. In a league where few take pride in their defense on a possession by possession basis, you could really appreciate the focus and attentiveness Harris brought on that end of the floor tonight. It definitely seemed like he got up for this matchup.

Offensively he was great too, shooting 5 of 9 from the floor and looking to get the rim often. In the second half when Denver re-took control of the game there was a three possession sequence where Harris brought the ball down the floor on the break three times in a row. That’s a great thing for Denver. Harris is never going to force the issue. He’s always in control, will always make the right play and won’t carelessly push the ball without numbers. It was a great all around performance from once of the Nuggets’ most consistent players.

Mason Plumlee – A

While Jokic didn’t have it tonight, Plumlee did, finishing with 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a block. He played under control, didn’t take any unnecessary jumpers and crashed the glass hard, tallying five offensive rebounds. He overwhelmed the Kings’ frontcourt with his strength on the glass and at the rim Monday.

The Class

Malik Beasley – B+

I love how locked in Beasley has looked this season. Nothing has seemed to phase him. Maybe it’s the contract year, or perhaps it’s how determined he is to carve out more playing time in the Nuggets’ deep rotation. But Beasley looks like he’s running at 100 miles per hour every minute that he’s on the floor this year. He was solid but not spectacular against the Kings finishing with eight points on modest shooting numbers. He also tallied eight steals and was solid defensively spelling Harris on Hield throughout the night.

Jamal Murray – B+

Murray vs. De’Aaron Fox was the matchup to watch tonight and both point guards pieced together solid games. Murray didn’t find much of a rhythm in the first half but put in 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting over the third and fourth quarters. Murray also had a couple nice passes to Jokic on the roll. Fox did his part too, recording 20 points and nine assists. Which point guard would you rather have running your team for the next decade, Murray or Fox? That’s a really difficult question to answer

Murray also rose to the occasion when it mattered Monday. Clinging to a three-point lead with 30 seconds remaining, Nikola Jokic had to exit the game momentarily after he banged knees with a Kings player. On Denver’s next possession, Murray isolated against Fox, got a sliver of daylight and was able to nail a 23-foot pull-up jumper from the left wing, his favorite side and maybe spot on the floor. That was Murray’s shot to take and it seemed like he was aware of that in the moment.

Paul Millsap – B

I thought the Nuggets might feature Millsap a bit more tonight with the Kings starting Nemanja Bjelica at power forward, someone Millsap could have his way with on the block. Millsap was solid but relatively quiet finishing with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting. As always he brought stout defense to the court.

Torrey Craig – C+

Craig shot only 1 of 8 from the floor and 0 of 2 from 3 but avoided the Principal’s Office thanks to nine rebounds and a few good moments on the defensive end of the floor. He also chipped in eight rebounds. Denver’s bench had an awful second quarter and relinquished the lead the Nuggets’ starters had built. Craig played his worst stretch of basketball then but was a part of a Denver second unit which rebounded to play winning basketball in the second half.

Principal’s Office

Nikola Jokic – C-

What an odd game from Jokic. He shot 4 of 15 from the field, 4 of 10 from two-point land and 0 of 5 from 3. He looked fairly passive on the block and didn’t look to attack and score on the Kings’ big men — Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes — like I thought he would. Jokic also didn’t appear too focused on the defensive end and missed a key box out on Holmes with just over two minutes to go that helped keep Sacramento in the game.

But how about Jokic’s rebounding numbers through three games? In Denver’s opener he grabbed 13 boards. Against Phoenix he tallied 14 and tonight he had another 13.

Just like the Nuggets, Jokic is still rounding into form.



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