After a tough loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies return home to take on the Denver Nuggets, who happen to be on a roll and one of the most surprising teams in the league so far.
Adam Mares is the head honcho of Denver Stiffs and he took some time to answer some of my questions on the Nuggets and their season so far.
- How do you think Isaiah Thomas will fit in with this team when he finally takes the floor for the Nuggets?
I’m really not sure. Right now the Nuggets are in a groove and the second unit is really playing well. Monte Morris leads the entire NBA with a 7/1 assist to turnover ratio and I don’t think it’s a fluke. In college, he set an NCAA record for the best assist to turnover ratio of all time. That being said, Thomas at his best is an MVP candidate so he will certainly take over as the backup PG as soon as he’s healthy. At the very least, I don’t think he’ll hurt the Nuggets. I’m just not sure how much he’ll be able to help them unless he truly can get back to his 2016 form.
2. What has been the most surprising aspect of Denver’s 9-1 start, and is it something that you think is sustainable?
They are much better defensively than their reputation so far - nobody thought they could be beating teams like the Golden State Warriors by holding them under 100 points. Through 10 games, the Nuggets are better defensively than they are offensively and it is pretty surreal, even if it is appearing to be less and less fluky as the wins pile up. The best part has been the team’s defense. Nobody saw this coming, not even the most ardent Nuggets supporters.
3. What is the biggest flaw on this team, and if you had the ability, how would you address it?
The only really flaw on the team right now is health. Will Barton is the least well-known of the Nuggets starters but he is also the most versatile. A 38% 3-point shooter, Barton was also the team’s secondary ball-handler who could take over point guard duties whenever the Nuggets wanted to play Jamal Muray off ball. With him in the lineup, the Nuggets offense was nealy unguardable. His absence takes a lot of the punch out of that first unit. Then, of course, there’s IT, Michael Porter Jr., and Jarred Vanderbilt, all three of whom could feasibly be in the rotation by the end of the season.
4. Who would you say is the most important player to this team aside from Nikola Jokic?
It’s a toss up between Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. Millsap is the backbone of the team’s defense and the single most important reason that they have managed to become a top 5 defensive team so far this season. He is Draymond-esque in his ability to cover the entire floor as a help side defender. But Gary Harris is the team’s most consistent player and their 2nd best offensive and defensive player behind Millsap and Jokic, respectively. He brings it every night and raises the team’s floor just by virtue of how often he wins his matchup and carries the team when others are struggling.
5. Let’s hear your game prediction
Denver played a very emotional, exhausting game against the Boston Celtics on Monday in which they had to climb back from an 18-point first quarter deficit. The team looked as tired as I have seen them following that one so even though they got a day off between games, I think this team is due for one of those bad road games where shots are short and defense is a step slow. I’ll go Grizzlies by 5.
A big thank you to Adam for answering my questions. Please check out Denver Stiffs, they’ve got some great things going on over there!