tweet this Content by Twitter, Facebook; Reddit or other Networks, thanks!
Beat writer Mike Singer opens up the Nuggets Mailbag periodically throughout the offseason. Pose a Nuggets — or NBA — related question here.
Still trying to figure out why the Nuggets made such a push to sign Facundo Campazzo. He’s a third-string, little-used point guard and the team had greater needs elsewhere. Yeah, he hustles and is scrappy, but seems like it’s a waste of money.
Bob Osborne, Westminster
Hmm, where do I begin? In light of backcourt injuries to Gary Harris, Monte Morris, PJ Dozier and the perpetually sore Jamal Murray, Campazzo has been a lifesaver for the Nuggets. In his last three games alone, he’s averaged about 15 points and four assists in 30 minutes per game.
But more than his recent production, you might have noticed a disturbing trend with the Nuggets. They tend to relax, sometimes after building a big lead or other times when the offense boils down to no movement and long jumpshots. Recently, Campazzo has been the antidote to those debilitating stretches. He plays with his hair on fire, his energy on defense translating to an unselfish approach on offense. It’s who he is. Even when he was struggling to adapt to the NBA throughout December and January, you could never say he wasn’t playing hard.
Maybe it’s because my 5-foot-11 basketball career didn’t blossom like I expected, but it’s impossible not to appreciate the life he injects into the game.
I’m curious to what’s the Nuggets’ plan with MPJ. Michael Malone shows zero confidence in his rising star, and it doesn’t look like Nikola Jokic is in love with him either. Do the Nuggets have some sort of plan or anything going with MPJ? Or does it look like he may be on the move during the trade deadline?
(P.S. – If you have anything or know anybody who has anything to do with the Rockies please let them know that Jeff Bridich is the worst GM in baseball.)
There is no more polarizing topic on the Nuggets than Michael Porter Jr. In his third year (yes, the clock is already ticking on his rookie extension), Porter has played a grand total of 73 regular season games. That means all the things being said about him, for better or worse, are essentially referring to a rookie. That’s not to give him a pass; that’s just accurate context.
Internally, Porter is a worker. I’ve been told he’s trying hard to grasp the nuances of basic defensive coverages, the kinds that occasionally submarine Denver’s defense when not executed. I’ve also seen growth from him in terms of not allowing his scoring, which has been off for several weeks, to dictate his entire game. That means not dwelling on a missed shot and allowing a play to linger as the Nuggets get back on defense. The Nuggets believe he’s gotten better in this regard. But there are still moments when his focus wanes, and those are the instances when it’s hard to see his forward progress.
There are no doubt growing pains with him, but he is still immensely talented. To a potential trade, frankly, I’d be stunned if they didn’t give themselves more time to evaluate him and work with him.
I also like this attitude: “We just gotta look ourselves in the mirror every day,” he said after the loss to Washington. “There’s games we play really, really good. And then we’re like a different team from night-to-night. … We really need to find our identity, stick to it. … But we’re going to get there. We’re going to stick together.”
First of all, thanks for all the information you provide through Twitter. It’s very helpful and interesting for us, the Argentinian b-ball fans. After Manu Ginóbili’s retirement, we really needed an Argentinian player in the NBA. Here goes my question: My feeling is that the Joker, by the way I personally love the east European school, feels good with Facu Campazzo as a PG. What do you think about Jamal Murray? Does he feel good playing along Facu? I believe that it would help Jamal to worry only on scoring than making plays for the team. Also, I’d like to say that Monte Morris is great! I really like the way he plays and he’s completely unselfish as well.
Juan Mariano, Argentina
Last time you did a mailbag I asked you about the possibility of having Campazzo as PG, rotating Murray to SG, and so unlocking Joker full potential as center. Do you feel this approach is possible after yesterday’s match against the Celtics? I know, I know. At the time, the proposal did sound crazy. Facu needed some adaptation. And probably this isn’t something you should do every game, but the more minutes Facu plays with either Joker or Jamal, the more I think it can be very beneficial for the team. Facu being forced to go to a corner as a 3-shooter just doesn’t feel natural. Cheers from Argentina, love your content!
Do you think Facu will play at the one from now and then? In the last game I think he did it well. I know this opportunity came about because of all the injuries. Also I would like to know if you think the Nuggets will let go of some PG in the near future?
Federico Graff, Cordoba, Argentina
Shoutout Argentina! We’re lumping these three questions together.
Whenever Morris and Murray are on the floor together, the Nuggets like to have Morris initiate the offense since it alleviates defensive pressure on Murray. The same thing can be, and should be, said for Campazzo, who’d rather create than shoot.
Murray has said he loves playing with Campazzo. (And in case you’re counting, that marks endorsements from both Jokic and Murray). He loves the energy he plays with and appreciates anyone who competes as hard as Campazzo does. That part is infectious. Offensively, the pairing works. Defensively, especially when the Nuggets are missing several of their best wing defenders, it leaves them undersized in the backcourt.
I don’t think there’s any question Malone has decided he’s way more valuable on-ball than off. Casting him in the corner to shoot spot-up 3s didn’t allow him to feel the flow of the game for one, and two, he’s not a great 3-point shooter. When he and Jokic operate in the pick-and-roll, it’s impossible not to see the synergy they have together. The Nuggets love to put as many high IQ playmakers on the court as possible.
For the first time ever, there’s real discussion about wasting Nikola Jokic’s prime which he is definitely in right now. I think it’s safe to say our team got worse this past offseason depth-wise and our hopes of Bubble Murray being here to stay and MPJ taking a big jump aren’t looking so hot. How patient can this team be before we try and make a big move in the trade market? Will it require being a seventh seed and getting bounced in the play-in round before Nuggets executive Tim Connelly hits the panic button? I’m an optimistic fan, but we are on that trajectory until proven otherwise.
Steve Nanino, Denver
This may be the most essential question the Nuggets have to ask themselves between now and the March 25 trade deadline. Can they afford to not add help around Jokic in what’s become a historic season? Do they trust Porter’s improvement will be enough? Are Gary Harris and Will Barton reliable enough wings, both in terms of health and production?
In the Bubble, NBA executives were racking their brains trying to determine how “real” everything that happened in Orlando really was. Were there leaps from certain players or was it a product of the environment? The reason I bring that up is because the same goes for this season. Can Connelly make any rash decisions based on a difficult season with unprecedented circumstances? The truth is the Nuggets will have to reach conclusions with imperfect information. They’ll have to judge MPJ probably earlier than anyone would want to. They’ll have to assess whether a potential first-round exit was a product of a tough matchup, a need for better defensive help or some combination of roster turnover and the short offseason. It does feel like we’re getting closer to an inflection point.
What potential trade targets could you see the Nuggets going after before the trade deadline? Do you think they could go big or continue with small moves?
Xavier Villalaz, Boulder
Should the Nuggets be in the market for a backup center?
Mac S., Birmingham, Ala.
Do you see Denver looking to acquire a player who can take the pressure off Jamal to make plays as a point guard? He looked better having a natural point (Facu) creating shots for him last night. Or is Facu possibly the answer to that? Or could it possibly be a wing facilitator?
@DavidSt24 via Twitter
As of early this week, the Nuggets didn’t have anything brewing on the trade front. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. There’s more than a month until the deadline. League executives see the market as relatively quiet because so many teams are within striking distance of the playoffs. If there’s more separation in the next few weeks, the belief is the transactions will ramp up. For now, the sellers are believed to be Orlando, Houston, Oklahoma City and Cleveland.
I believe the Nuggets would listen for anyone on the roster outside of Jokic and Murray. The problem is finding a taker for Harris ($19 million per year, free agent in 2022) or Barton ($13.7 million, player option this summer). The Nuggets obviously need help on the perimeter. Specifically, they need defensive help for impending postseason matchups. I can almost guarantee it won’t be a backup center or another guard, if the Nuggets do make a trade.
One more thing: Not that I expect the Nuggets to make a giant splash (it doesn’t sound like Bradley Beal is available, sorry everyone), but their recent injuries have allowed prospects like Zeke Nnaji and R.J. Hampton to get extended time on the court. Both have immense potential, and, I assume, others around the league have taken notice.
Why did Bol Bol get signed to a full-time contract to be the 15th man? Couldn’t he have stayed on a two-way and developed in the G League instead of his current situation?
@KalebCahalan, via Twitter
Few Nuggets players had a better offseason than Bol. He worked hard, earned a contract and thought he was going to be part of the regular rotation. Nearly two months into the season, it’s obvious that’s not the case. Even Vlatko Cancar has seemingly jumped Bol in the rotation. Without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to know his frustration level. But Bol’s trajectory, which is at least two years away from consistent contributor, doesn’t match with Denver’s current timeline. The news of Denver’s imminent G League team might be an option for him next season.