The NBA arms race was on this summer and seemingly never stopped. The Western Conference loaded up with new talent – including Paul Millsap to the Nuggets. And the Nuggets’ division in particular was as active as ever.
Oklahoma City added stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to a team that already housed last season’s MVP, Russell Westbrook. Minnesota added Jimmy Butler to an already solid young core. There was only one defection: Gordon Hayward leaving Utah to head to Boston. And the Jazz still figure to be a formidable bunch.
What do the Nuggets feel about all of this? The short answer from team brass is they don’t think much about it, and they won’t shrink from any challenges.
“A few days ago, OKC picked up Carmelo,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “So an already-loaded Western Conference got a little bit more talented; an already-loaded division that we’re in got a little more talented. We’re not worried about that. We’re worried about us and the expectations that we’re going to set upon ourselves are all that matter.”
Nuggets president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly echoed Malone’s sentiments.
“The way we challenge ourselves internally is probably a higher bar than anything externally,” Connelly said. “I think we’ve gotten better every day since (Malone) got here.
“It’s a loaded Western Conference. Our division alone has x-amount of Hall of Famers. It’s going to be a challenge every evening. We’re pretty competitive guys up here and we have a (locker) room full of competitive guys. We’re ready to accept the challenge.”
Point guard battle.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was asked what his starting lineup would be during his media day press conference. He breezed through every position but one – point guard.
It is the spot of fiercest competition in this camp and preseason.
“We’re going to let our point guards earn the job,” Malone said. “We’re going to let our point guards earn the backup minutes. And I’m looking forward to that. … It’s a race, it’s a competition, and I look forward to seeing these guys starting (Tuesday morning) at 10 o’clock fighting for that. It’s a great problem to have.”
All Nuggets players are expected to be available for the start of training camp, but two will be eased into things. First, is forward Darrell Arthur, who continues to strengthen his knees. He won’t be taxed too much during the preseason.
Second, is Juancho Hernangomez, who has played a ton of basketball this summer between summer league and playing for Spain in the recently ended EuroBasket tournament. The aim is to help his body rest as much as he can.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.