Lunch Special: Denver Nuggets live chat with Gina Mizell

Lunch Special: Denver Nuggets live chat with Gina Mizell

The Denver Post’s Gina Mizell is answering your questions about the Denver Nuggets in a live Lunch Special chat, beginning at noon. Mobile users, if you don’t see the live chat, tap here.

The chat window is open now, so feel free to submit your questions early.

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js”;ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, “script”, “scrbbl-js”));I’m thrilled to be here! And that’s a great question — one that several people have asked me as I’ve started this new adventure. So far the biggest difference is the access. There is no overarching media policy in college sports, so the head coaches can basically dictate how much (or, in a lot of cases, little) access reporters have. I used to talk to (now former) Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen three times per week during the season — at a formal press conference on Mondays, on Thusdays after practice and on Saturdays after the game. Mike Malone talked to reporters three times YESTERDAY (after shootaround, two hours before the game and after the game). There is rarely locker room access to players in college sports — usually only during bowl games and the NCAA Tournament. And in college football, the rosters are obviously much, much larger — so I think there will be more opportunities to build relationships with the Nuggets because it’s simply a smaller group of people and we’re all about to see each other almost every day for six months. The travel will also be a big personal adjustment for me, but I’m also really excited for all the road trips because I really enjoy traveling. The 82-game schedule is also a change from a 12-game CFB schedule, but I actually don’t anticipate that being a massive adjustment because I was monitoring all the little the moving parts every day at practice.Hello Gina, glad you’re covring the Nuggets. What’s the biggest difference so far from covering college football?Defense has certainly been a focal point of training camp. The two broad philosophies that Malone wanted to implement were to simplify and to be more aggressive. Communication has also been a big buzzword during the preseason. I noted earlier how the big men are being asked to hedge more on the pick and roll, which gives the guards some help. You also see some more guys being active and getting more steals. But during the preseason, the Nuggets have still allowed too many points in the paint. Or when that was better against San Antonio, the Spurs absolutely lit it up from 3-point range. Paul Millsap’s presence should certainly help, but teammates and coaches have insisted that the responsibility to improve the defense can’t all fall on him. I think it will still be a work-in-progress in the early season — and the players will need to consistently buy in for an 82-game schedule, which isn’t always easy.Seems to me the biggest question for the Nuggets (and always has been), can the Nugs defense improve. That seems to be their biggest liability every year. Will we be better this year and why?Great question, especially since we saw some different lineups last night. When the Nuggets go small, that typically means Juancho Hernangomez will play the 4 or Will Barton will play the 3. Mason Plumlee can shift to the 4 when they want to go big. I noted this in my 6 takeaways from last night (which you can read right now!), but the two interesting combos we saw against the Thunder were Nelson-Barton-Chandler-Hernangomez-Plumlee in the first half and Nelson-Murray-Barton-Hernangomez-Plumlee in the second half. The latter lineup was the one that spearheaded the Nuggets’ brief comeback and was particularly sparked by Barton’s hot shooting (he scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half).Hi Gina, I haven’t really been watching preseason. Can you tell me what the Nuggets best lineup combos are when they “go big” and when they “go small”?Haha, it’s not the Brooklyn Nets because the Brooklyn Nets are…not good? But in all seriousness, I’m going to be incredibly boring and say the biggest challengers in the East are the Celtics and the biggest challengers in the West are the Rockets, Spurs and Thunder. But I’d obviously say the Celtics have a better chance of beating the Cavs than the field beating the Warriors.What team has the best chance to prevent another Cavs-Warriors finals, and explain why it’s not the Brooklyn Nets.It will be interesting to see how he handles the outside expectations — and the opponents’ game plans that are centered around stopping him. But he’s obviously a budding All-Star with an incredibly unique skillset. He must improve defensively, particularly with his footwork with how the Nuggets now plan to aggressively play the pick and roll. I think Paul Millsap’s presence will be a big asset for him this season, both on the court and off the court. Malone has also talked about Jokic continuing control his emotions on the court. Not reacting to Russell Westbrook’s forearm last night is a good example of that.What do you think the ceiling is for Nikola Jokic this year?Well, they won 40 last year and missed the playoffs by one game. Vegas puts the over/under at 45.5 wins. Barring major injuries or other wacky circumstances, I think that’s about right. 45/46 wins would have made the Nuggets the seventh seed in last season’s playoffs. But the West will be fascinating to track this season, given the major offseason moves. Do the Clippers fall off without Chris Paul? How about the Jazz without Hayward (and now Exum’s injury)? Does Minnesota make a significant jump with Jimmy Butler? Where do teams like Memphis and Portland fit in? That will all play a role in if the Nuggets return to the playoffs or not.How many games you think the Nuggets win this year?That’s a great question, considering Fat Lever will only be the sixth Nugget with their jersey retired. Carmelo’s impact certainly makes him worthy. Again, as the new person on this beat, it was fascinating to observe him in the Pepsi Center last night. He warmly greeted familiar faces in the hallway. He got a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd. And he had some very kind things to say about his time in Denver after the game. Side note: Fat Lever was genuinely touched by the honor yesterday. And as an Arizona State grad, it was pretty cool to visit with him.Who’s next to get their number retired by the Nuggets? I vote Carmelo when he retires.The numbers, like pretty much any NBA contract, are certainly eye-popping — and will make Harris one of the highest-paid shooting guards in the NBA. I’m new to this beat, but so far there has not been a player that coaches and front-office people have spoken more highly of than Gary Harris. He has the respect of his teammates in the locker room. He’s obviously morphed into a terrific player on both ends of the floor. He’s been a public representative in modeling the new jerseys, and a private representative while helping recruit Paul Millsap to sign with the Nuggets. Harris and Jokic are the young cornerstones of this team right now, and the contract reflects that.Hi Gina, what do you think about the Gary Harris contract? Did the Nuggets make a good deal?That and point guard continue to be the magical personnel questions heading into the season. We didn’t learn much last night, as Malone went small a lot against the Thunder. Lyles didn’t play at all, and Faried only played the final six minutes. The tough part of Malone’s decision is that Faried and Lyles are such different players. You already know what Faried brings. Lyles is a more skilled player who can space the floor, shoot the 3, put the ball on the floor and distribute. Malone really likes the combination of Lyles and Plumlee, but likes Faried paired with Jokic or Millsap. So we’ll see. The other day, Malone said the PG and PF battles were "a dilemma, wrapped in an enigma inside a labyrinth."We have so many power forwards. What happens with them? And what can we get for Faried?I think it’s going to be Murray, who struggled last night against Russell Westbrook but has the combination of scoring and playmaking ability that the Nuggets want on the perimeter. I asked Malone if we should read anything into last night’s pecking order (Murray then Nelson and Mudiay getting late minutes), and he said that it was Mudiay’s turn to "rest" after Murray got the Spurs game off and Nelson missed the first two with the toe injury. But Mudiay is averaging 4.3 turnovers per game, and that’s been a big emphasis for Malone during training camp. If Mudiay falls out of the rotation again, like last year, then trying to move him is certainly an option. I would be curious to see how much interest there would be, because he has lots of physical tools and shows flashes, but then still makes silly plays.So who’s going to win the Nuggets’ point guard battle? If it’s not Mudiay, do the Nuggets trade him?Hello! Depends on the game. I thought Paul Millsap’s third quarter against Golden State was terrific, particularly the way he stepped out and shot the 3. Gary Harris was great in the first game against the Lakers, ditto for Murray in the second game against the Lakers. Will Barton has obviously really come on strong the last couple games — I wrote about him in today’s Post. He’s so versatile that he can play any perimeter spot (even some PG), has improved defensively and says he has a clearer mind and won’t put pressure on himself to score whenever he enters the game.Hi Gina, who has impressed you the most in the preseason?Hey everybody. Welcome to this week’s Denver Nuggets live chat. The preseason is (finally) over and the regular season tips off next week in Utah. I’ll be hanging out for the next hour, so fire away with your questions!

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