Monthly Archives: December 2020

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I enjoy reading content from two writers in particular very, very much: Zach Lowe of ESPN and former Big Stiff Adam Mares of DNVR. Lowe does a column every week titled “10 Things I like and don’t like” that is a great combination of in-depth and surface level analysis at teams around the NBA. Mares does a column titled “The List” that hones in on the film of each Denver Nuggets game and identifies key plays and sequences Nuggets fans should be interested in. Both are excellent reads, and Nuggets fans should be absorbing their analysis throughout the year to learn more about basketball.

This column is a sort of derivation of both columns by the Lowe and Mares that will run every Monday morning. I will be identifying big picture ideas and small details seen on film from the previous week and combining those tidbits into a singular space. This will be separate from Stat of the Week on Tuesday, the Weekly Mailbag on Thursday, and Gage Bridgford’s Film Friday posted on…Friday.

I hope you enjoy!

Jamal Murray — Isolation defense specialist
Jamal Murray is taking defense seriously this year. Gone are the days where Michael Malone is hiding Denver’s prized point guard on offense in favor of an easier matchup. Murray is going to guard his position all year, and when he switches onto stars, he’s going to make them work for buckets.

Despite his offensive issues against the Sacramento Kings and a poor start to the game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Murray has been good defensively, especially in the post. Here, Kawhi Leonard gets matched up against the smaller Murray and struggles to get a clean shot attempt.

Here, Kawhi avoids backing down Murray on the switch in transition and instead tries to blow by him. No dice. Murray beats Leonard to the spot and takes a charge on the baseline.

Is it just Kawhi who’s having issues? Nope. Paul George pushes off against Murray on an attempted step back mid-range jumper. Why? Because Murray beat him to the spot.

This version of Cheap Jamal Murray Jersey defensively is one that the Nuggets haven’t seen much of in other years. Murray made progress last year and began to take pride in his defensive work. Now, he’s flourishing a bit. According to, Leonard and George combined to shoot 3-of-10 from the field to go along with two assists and three turnovers when guarded by Murray on Christmas. It’s that kind of effort and execution that the Nuggets have been looking for, and as Murray begins to transition into his prime, becoming a consistently good defensive player will help him become great.

Gary Harris needs a breakout
So far in two games this season, Cheap Gary Harris Jersey is 0-of-6 from three-point range. It’s too early to evaluate percentages in any sincere way, but the shots Harris has missed have been important within the flow of the offense. With as often as Murray, Cheap Nikola Jokic Jersey, and even Cheap Michael Porter Jr. Jersey are creating offense off the dribble, it’s important for the other two players on the court, namely Harris and Cheap Paul Millsap Jersey, to capitalize on their opportunities.

The above shot is not how to bust a shooting slump. Tightly contested off a dribble handoff with 11 seconds left on the shot clock isn’t going to make things easier for anyone, and for Harris, the offense needs to come easier or not at all.

Through two games, Harris has the dreaded low usage, low efficiency combination on offense. 11.5% usage rate combined with 40.3% true shooting isn’t going to get it done. A couple of possessions after missing an open mid-range jumper, Harris doesn’t trust the jumper in a scramble situation and instead telegraphs a pass to the waiting Patrick Beverley.

The Nuggets need a version of Gary Harris that’s willing to rise and fire when open or move the ball efficiently when covered. It’s possible that said version of Harris is gone after regressing across multiple years, and the Nuggets are running out of time trying to figure out whether that version will ever come back.

It would go a long way if Harris made five three-pointers against the Houston Rockets tonight.

Michael Porter Jr.: making the wrong decision in transition
The Nuggets didn’t grab this rebound.

The ensuing Sacramento Kings possession lasted just four seconds.

The Nuggets want to be a great offensive rebounding team so badly, and Michael Porter Jr. in particular wants to be a great offensive rebounder. He attacks the glass when he shouldn’t, snaring rebounds and getting easy baskets for the Nuggets when the situation is right.

If the situation is wrong, the Nuggets get burned in transition often. Whether it be by dunks, open threes, or mismatches generated by pushing the pace, the Nuggets are often put at a disadvantage when too many players attack the glass. In the above play, Porter has to recognize that three Nuggets are under Sacramento’s basket and hightail it back on defense to prevent an open basket on the other end. He’s late to recognize and jogs back instead, resulting in a wide open three for Buddy Hield, who made the second most threes in the NBA last year behind only James Harden.

Porter isn’t the only culprit on the Nuggets, but he is the primary culprit. He wants to use his size to rebound and create free points, but the trade off between offensive rebounding and transition defense is a big one.

Defensive Rebounding is way worse
The Nuggets are 30th in defensive rebounding rate, grabbing just 68.5% of available defensive rebounds. Nearly one-third of opposing shot attempts are grabbed by the offensive team for second chance opportunities.

Denver is actually allowing just 11.5 second chance points per game right now, which ranks as the 10th fewest in the NBA. There could be something that the Nuggets are doing when opposing teams snag an offensive rebound, but above all, Denver is just getting lucky.

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The Denver Nuggets (0-2) are preparing for a matchup with the Houston Rockets (0-1) as the two teams look to get back to the winning ways that they are used to. The Nuggets have opened their season with a pair of losses following a shorter offseason after a run to the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the Rockets have been dealing with a lot of locker room turmoil with disgruntled superstar James Harden.

For Denver, they need to get things turned around in a hurry. It’s early in the season, but the Western Conference doesn’t leave any room for error. If the Memphis Grizzlies are able to get their first win over the Brooklyn Nets, the only winless team in the conference will be the loser of this game. For the Rockets, they’re operating on borrowed time with Harden right now. He’s looking to leave, but, as long as he’s there, he can keep them in any game by himself.

If Denver is looking to compete with the top of the conference again this year, they need to come out and win this game. If they’re unable to do so, they have a number of road matchups coming up that will make getting back on track more difficult. For the Rockets, they’re trying to get back to the playoffs again, but that’s going to be difficult with rocky chemistry and a laundry list of injuries.

The Essentials
Who: Denver Nuggets (0-2, 0-2 home) vs Houston Rockets (0-1, 0-1 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up on Zoom. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

Expected Starting Lineups:

HOU: PG James Harden, SG Sterling Brown, SF Danuel House, PF P.J. Tucker, C Christian Wood

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Cheap Michael Porter Jr. Jersey, PF Cheap Paul Millsap Jersey, C Cheap Nikola Jokic Jersey

Injuries: DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon, Mason Jones,
Cheap Kenyon Martin Jersey, Ben McLemore, John Wall, Cheap JaMychal Green Jersey, Cheap Greg Whittington Jersey

Three Things to Watch
Can they contain James Harden?
Harden doesn’t want to be in Houston. We all know that. He is in the middle of his prime, and he wants a trade. Until that happens, he’s going to carry his trade value with a high level of play on the court. Can Cheap Gary Harris Jersey stop him? If not, Denver is going to be in for a long night. Gary is the only starter that is a capable defender of his own spot, and, unless they deploy a strategy of letting Harden cook while slowing down everyone else, it could be a long night.

Where is bubble Jamal Murray?
There is a legitimate case to be made that Cheap Jamal Murray Jersey was the Nuggets’ best player during the NBA restart in the bubble in Orlando. He shot nearly 50/50/90 from the floor. He was unconscious some nights. In the first two games, he has barely been conscious. He’s averaging just 16.0 points per game with a slash line of .345/.250/.889. Jokic is great, but he needs help from his budding star teammate.

Stop Christian Wood
Harden is the straw that stirs the Rockets’ drink. Until Wall returns from an injury, that will be the case. However, the early revelation has been center Christian Wood. He put up a double-double in the team’s first outing, and he did so while shooting over 60 percent from the floor. With all of Houston’s injuries, he is the only player that gives you any pause outside of Harden. If Denver can contain him, they can win even if Harden is cooking.

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Michael Porter Jr. is ready to do more than just fill the void on the Denver Nuggets caused by the departures of key wing players such as Cheap Jerami Grant Jersey and Cheap Torrey Craig Jersey.

The second-year forward is prepared to not only be a full-time starter, but believes he’s ready to be the third star that Jamal Murray and Cheap Nikola Jokic Jersey need.

“Yeah, I do,” Porter said when asked if he thinks he can become the second- or third-leading scorer on the team.

“I want to be one of the best players,” Porter later added. “And I want to guard the best players and I want the best players on the other team to guard me.”

As the Denver Nuggets return to training camp, it’s important for fans to become reacquainted with their favorite team. During a shortened offseason, the Nuggets made several player transactions, more than usual, and the resulting roster looks very different than it did before. 10 players on the 2019-20 roster have returned for the 2020-21 season, and they are:

Cheap Jamal Murray Jersey – point guard

Monte Morris – point guard

Cheap PJ Dozier Jersey– combo guard

Cheap Gary Harris Jersey – shooting guard

Cheap Will Barton Jersey – wing/forward

Cheap Michael Porter Jr. Jersey – forward

Cheap Bol Bol Jersey– forward

Cheap Paul Millsap Jersey – power forward

Vlatko Čančar – power forward

Nikola Jokić – center

That leaves seven roster spots, each of which the Nuggets have filled with a player hoping to move the Nuggets closer to winning their first championship in franchise history.

Today, it’s time to introduce Nuggets fans to Cheap Isaiah Hartenstein Jersey.

Isaiah Hartenstein Player Profile
Position: Center

Previous Team: Houston Rockets

Height, Weight, Wingspan: 7’0”, 250 lbs, 7’2”

Per Game Table
2017-18 RIO 38 11 18.7 3.6 6.3 .571 0.3 0.9 .343 3.3 5.3 .611 2.0 2.9 .685 2.8 3.8 6.6 1.2 0.5 1.1 1.4 3.0 9.5
2018-19 RIO 26 26 32.4 7.8 12.5 .622 0.7 2.4 .274 7.1 10.1 .703 3.2 5.0 .646 5.2 9.8 14.9 3.7 0.7 2.0 3.3 3.4 19.4
2019-20 RIO 14 14 32.6 9.4 16.2 .581 0.9 3.3 .261 8.6 12.9 .663 2.9 4.4 .661 4.7 10.1 14.8 4.2 1.4 1.1 3.2 3.6 24.9
Career 78 51 25.8 6.0 10.1 .595 0.5 1.8 .287 5.5 8.3 .663 2.6 3.9 .663 3.9 6.9 10.8 2.6 0.7 1.4 2.3 3.2 15.6
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2020.
How did Hartenstein get to the Nuggets?
Hartenstein grew up playing international basketball, having grown up in Germany while his father, Florian Hartenstein. After a few seasons playing professionally as a teenager, he declared for the NBA draft in 2017. The Houston Rockets selected him with the 43rd overall pick, and he spent most of his time with the franchise’s G-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He’ll actually come to the Nuggets with experience playing with Cheap Monte Morris Jersey, as the two players were teammates during the 2017-18 season.

Hartenstein made the 2018-19 All-G-League team, and has been one of the best big men to play in the league the past few seasons. He only saw limited minutes with the Rockets when he would get called up to the NBA, but when given the opportunity to play in the G League, he was highly effective. The Rockets waived him last season, and as an unrestricted free agent, he was free to sign with the Nuggets.


What to Expect from Hartenstein
For starters, Hartenstein is not a big, white stiff that Nuggets fans have grown accustomed to as the backup big on the team — Hartenstein’s father is African-American. He’s an impressive dunker, similar to Cheap Mason Plumlee Jersey, with the ability to powerfully finish with both hands when given a lane to the basket. It’s not difficult to see him finishing a couple dunks per game courtesy of a nifty pass from Monte Morris or Facu Campazzo.

While he is able to use his athleticism to finish efficiently around the rim, there’s a burgeoning skill set in his game that he has yet to fully untap. He has a flair for the dramatic, and will occasionally find a teammate open for an easy basket as he’s diving to the rim. He shoots fine enough from the free throw line (66% career in the G League), and has shown the ability to shoot from behind the 3-point line, although it’s a shot that he still needs to develop. I could see him learning how to shoot from the corners, focusing on becoming skilled from one area, giving him one additional way to space the floor when he’s on the court.

He’s going to play with a lot of energy, setting good screens and crashing the glass for rebounds. He’ll have to commit to becoming more disciplined on defense, and reining in some of his emotions to maintain focus on his assignments.

Denver has an interesting positional battle for the backup big role going into training camp. While Hartenstein is older and has more experience, he plays a similar game to Cheap Zeke Nnaji Jersey. The coaching staff will get a good chance to see which player edges out the other, and earns the minutes that will be available behind Jokic.

A two-year contract is a great gamble for both Hartenstein and the Nuggets. If Hartenstein is capable of replicating some of the play that make him great in the G-League, he’ll be a nice contributor to the team over the next two seasons. He’ll have shown the NBA that he’s worth a bigger contract, and will be able to thank the Nuggets for helping him refine his game. If it doesn’t work out, he won’t hurt the team’s salary cap and he won’t be around for too long. Thank goodness they didn’t pay their backup center $40 million this time around — one of Nnaji or Hartenstein should be able to fill that role plenty fine.

One thing is for certain — when he started for Houston, he was a beast. The Nuggets may have found something great here. It’s going to take a lot of polishing, but I’m excited.

NBA training camp questions, roster breakdowns for all 30 teams

NBA strength of schedule for all 30 teams
Tim Connelly, Nuggets president of basketball operations, said it is a poorly kept secret that the Nuggets need Porter to take a big step forward this season. They lost Grant’s versatility, particularly on defense, when the forward signed with the Detroit Pistons. And Craig, one of the team’s other top wing defenders, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks.

After sitting out the 2018-19 season following back surgery, Porter’s playing time fluctuated to start his rookie season. Elevated into the starting lineup due to injuries, Porter shined during the seeding games in the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida. He was named to the All-Seeding Games second team after averaging 22.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal in seven games.

He started three games in the postseason and was inconsistent, averaging 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. But the experience of playing 23.7 minutes per game in the playoffs on a team that pulled off two straight historic 3-1 series comebacks to reach the Western Conference finals was incredibly valuable.

“I kind of saw everything last year,” said Porter. “We played LeBron [James] in the playoffs, I played against Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George, all the best players at my position. So I feel like I have some experience now going into this season that I didn’t have last year in my first year playing.”

“I went from DNPs to starting on a Western Conference finals team in the playoffs,” Porter added. “I learned a lot in one year and looking to carry that over to this year. I want to make a really big jump. I’ve been working really hard in all the areas that I saw that I need to get better in the playoffs. I’m excited and I feel like I’m ready.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said that the starting spots at shooting guard, small forward and power forward have yet to be decided, but he believes Porter can make a big leap.

“I think [he] really showed himself well in those 19 playoff games that he had a chance to play in in Orlando,” Malone said. “And I think Cheap Michael Porter Jersey has a chance to be an all-league talent, and I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”

Veteran Will Barton, who left the bubble prior to the seeding games because of a knee injury, said he is feeling better and has made it clear he prefers not to come off the bench.

“I’m a starter in this league,” Barton told reporters Friday. “I think I’ve proved that year in and year out being one of the most consistent players in the whole NBA.

“… I think it is clear-cut who I am in this league.”