Jamal Murray is encouraged by what he sees. The Nuggets’ preseason has been productive in a number of areas, and Murray, a combo guard in his second season, detailed what he’s liked most.
“Everybody’s getting better,” said Murray of the Nuggets, who are 3-0 this preseason. “Everybody’s trying to figure out how we’re going to play and all of that. We’re just getting used to the offense, and the defense most importantly. We’re having a lot of fun getting better every day.”
He especially likes the progress the Nuggets are making on defense.
“As long as we talk and communicate, we’re a pretty good defensive team,” Murray said. “We’ve just got to do it consistently, every possession. Every time down the floor we’ve got to be sharp on that. But we’re looking pretty good.”
And yet, Murray recognizes there remains work to be done in order to improve. They’ll get two good tests, starting Sunday against San Antonio, and continuing into the exhibition finale against Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Oklahoma City on Oct. 10. The Nuggets have made changes to their defensive approach, featuring a more aggressiveness.
“(The changes) are helping a lot because we have a lot more communication, that’s the biggest thing,” Murray said. “We have a lot more effort. Guys know that this is a big year, so they are putting a lot more effort into playing defense.
“I think it makes everybody play harder, too. It forces you to be up. It forces you to play hard. So, I think that’s helping everybody out.”
This is what to look for in Sunday’s game against San Antonio.
Starting and substitution patterns. Nuggets coach Michael Malone has said final decisions at starting point guard and reserve power forward aren’t made yet, but we can start to get a handle on how things are shaking out rotation-wise with what happens against the Spurs. The Nuggets still must hone in on what they will be when the regular season starts, and they have just two games to get in those kind of reps. So, while some things aren’t set in stone, they will start to be.
Jamal Murray. In the Nuggets’ last preseason game, against the Lakers, Murray was under a mandate to be more aggressive in looking for his shot. He responded with five 3-pointers and 20 points in all. “I thought his game in Ontario, (Calif.) was the Jamal Murray that we have all come to expect,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. Can he keep it rolling in San Antonio, against one of the NBA’s best defensive teams?
Turnovers. If there is an area Nuggets coach Michael Malone would like to most see quick improvement, it’s in turnovers. They’ve averaged 20 turnovers in the first three games. Though the Nuggets haven’t always paid for it in allowing points off of those turnovers – the Lakers scored just nine off of 23 Denver turnovers on Wednesday – it is a number Malone would like reduced.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.