Michael Malone is growing, too.
It’s long been an issue we’ve had with the Denver Nuggets head coach. We spent a good part of last season complaining about Michael Malone’s short bench and inability to find use for what we thought were some very talented players.
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Like a player that identifies an area of need in their game and puts extra effort into working on that aspect, Malone seems to grow as a coach every season. What we saw as a shortcoming last season is becoming a strength.
Take the backcourt. I’m not sure the emergence of Monte Morris as a legitimate, solid decision-making point guard was a surprise to anyone within the Nuggets organization. They’ve put a decent amount of effort over the last two seasons into retaining Morris, somebody knew what we’re now witnessing. With Jamal Murray struggling with confidence there was some idea that Morris may be a better fit with the starters while Jamal found the Arrow. Gary Harris doing what Gary Harris does created three legitimate contenders for the two starting backcourt spots.
Malone seems to have found a great rotation that gets Morris on the floor and also always keeps either Murray or Harris on the floor at the same time. Morris is the first backcourt sub, usually for Harris and Malone goes with the Murray-Morris tandem for about five minutes at which point he substitutes Harris for Murray. Another 5-6 minutes and Murray replaces Morris, reuniting the starters. It really works well and it makes Murray or Harris available when Malone has chosen to go small and have all three guards on the floor together.
When Isaiah Thomas returns, imagine the potency of a lineup that has Morris, Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic starting, IT, Murray, Juan Hernangomez, Trey Lyles and Mason Plumlee to follow. That team seems nearly unbeatable. It would require a large concession from Murray but man, the possibilities. Possibilities that seem possible given the growth of Malone.
More than having the right mix of players on the floor, another thing that’s been coaxed from this team is effort: