Zero assists. 0. Zilch. Nada.
The combined number of assists between your 20-year-old Jamal Murray and the 21-year-old Emmanuel Mudiay, each trusted with ball managing duties this year. Both gone into a major game last night against the Portland Trail Blazers seeking to be aggressive, at least Murray was. The outcome unfortunately was failing against a sub par defensive back again courtroom in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Murray had six turnovers last night in 39 moments. Mudiay experienced three turnovers in 21 moments. It would have been better experienced Murray been striking some outside shots to space the ground, but he set up another ugly exhibiting from behind the three-point line with an 0/7 evening. Somehow, Mudiay was a minus-29 last night in the plus-minus division, which is hard to do in just 21 minutes on the floor. But in past game titles, Mudiay wasn’t actually to be blamed for the struggles of the bench when he performed very well individually. Tonight? Four items. No assists. 1/4 from the field.
The Denver Nuggets offense starts with Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap, and while neither of these played extremely well, both made positive contributions here or there. That’s inadequate for superstar players though, especially with the youth Denver provides everywhere. We ignore Jokic is 22 sometimes with what he can carry out on the basketball courtroom, but in going up against his past teammate Jusuf Nurkic, Jokic provides laid an egg twice. Six items and three assists out of him could have been great his rookie calendar year or if he was in foul difficulties. Now? He gets to share the blame within an ugly looking loss.
Wilson Chandler was a bright spot, as he shouldered the creation duties in the beginning lineup, picking up six assists of his own. Coupled with 14 efficient items and seven rebounds, this may be Chandler’s best efficiency of the season, and in a night of dark spots, his work was encouraging.
Gary Harris was out, and that thrust Will Barton into the beginning lineup again. I don’t think anyone can concern whether Barton is a starting caliber safeguard in today’s NBA – he is. The difficulty with him as a starter for the Nuggets is it removes the protection blanket from Mudiay in case things go awry. Harris is a protection blanket for Murray, as he hits some hard shots from beyond the arc and on direct line drives. Both of the experienced guards have confirmed their mettle ten instances over.
There’s a tough balance for a head instructor in removing the protection blanket for just one or both of those guys. Michael Malone experienced a tough decision of whether to insert Barton or Malik Beasley for the harmed Harris the past two games. Malone gone with Barton, not merely because Barton may be the better player and has been playing well, but also due to the pleasant string of game titles Mudiay has already established off the bench. He took away that protection blanket for Mudiay, and against Orlando, it proved helpful. Against Portland, it didn’t.
There will be hit and miss nights over offense with thus many young players. That’s why youthful players take time, and it’s why youthful teams rarely produce the playoffs. The Nuggets really want to produce the playoffs this year. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The difficulty? The Nuggets want to walk both lines and become powerful at both, and that may create nights like last night.
For Denver to take that proverbial next thing, Murray has to be steady, Mudiay needs to play aggressive. But most importantly, Jokic has to be dominant. He can cover because of their deficiencies and provides for much of the year. When the lighting are brightest and the pressure is palpable, he needs to intensify. Leaving things until guards will give them needed experience, but it won’t lead to many wins along the way.