Nikola had a defensive weakness last season.
At least he had a perceived defensive weakness. The pick-and-roll or PXR as the cool-kids are calling it (and like Rae Sremmurd, I’m much cooler than the cool kids).
Houston, in particular ate the Nuggets and Jokic up with a steady diet of pick and roll. It was maddening watching it work over and over. One problem for the perception of Nikola’s role in the deficiency is that he can’t take the brunt of the blame for a bad team defensive scheme.
I get that the center has to be a rim-protector, at the minimum, has to be a last-line of defense. Denver doesn’t play that way and the more they tried to square peg a defensive fit onto players that didn’t have the commensurate skills, the more confused the defense looked.
That’s why it’s been refreshing to see that the Nuggets coaching staff has grown, like the players and has taken a look at what strengths can be applied from the current roster. From there they can make a defensive gameplan and adjustments based on realistic expectations.
They have, too, at media day, executives talked about the importance of defending the three-point shot for this young Nuggets team but beyond that, there were no expectations of Denver’s defense.
Not one to let any weakness slide, Nikola claimed that the Nuggets could have the best defense in the league.
With the work he’s put in over the offseason and with his passion to address deficiencies in his game, who wants to bet that the Nuggets big man won’t make a legitimate run at that proclamation?