1 Comment

I understand the critique of Michael Malone's bench rotations in the abstract, but I'm not sure where and how he should get other guys in the game. He's lost 3 games all playoffs and the losses were in overtime and two single digit losses to Booker with flames coming off his hand. So it's not like Malone has had to dig deep for answers in these series that the starters weren't providing. Most of his adjustments were in coverages and how to attack, rather than switching who has played. A lot of other teams going deeper into their bench have needed to plug holes or respond to injuries and Malone just hasn't had to. Specifically against the Lakers in game 4, he put the peddle to the floor against a team that was also putting the peddle to the floor, but with and older and more beaten up car. Ham was keeping his starters in and Malone matching him made some sense given how old and injury prone AD and LeBron are. If there was a game 5 at altitude, I have a hard time believing LeBron and AD would have been capable of outplaying Jokic and Murray given their usage in game 4.

To coach's larger point about Malone giving more players a shot, I think there are some players that might come in during the playoffs if the situation calls for it, like Zeke, Reggie, Vlatko, and DeAndre. I don't see a world where Thomas Bryant sees the court given how poorly he played with Denver after the trade. He was incredibly miscast and underutilized during his time with the Nuggets. He would get early seals in transition and never get a pass. They would never involve him in a pick and roll or pick and pop. And when he would make mistakes during his limited minutes he would get yanked. All of those were misses by the coaching staff in my opinion, but the time to correct that was months ago. Given where the Nuggets are now, I don't see how some of their bench guys can get more than spot minutes given their lack of chemistry with the starters who are staggering. If I saw the Nuggets getting beat, I might be calling for more players to see time. Given how versatile their starters, Bruce, and Jeff are it's tough to actually see where the other guy's minutes come from.

Expand full comment