Nuggets Notes: Gordon, Rivers, Malone, Three-Point Shooting

Aaron Gordon was thrilled to get an opportunity to make it past the first round of the playoffs after being traded to the Nuggets last season, but he was disappointed in how he performed in the postseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. His role on the team changed after the injury to Jamal Murray and he wasn’t as productive as he had hoped to be, particularly in the second-round sweep by the Suns.

“I felt disgusting coming out of those playoffs,” said Gordon, who used the experience as motivation to prepare for the new season. “I felt like my touch was gone, I felt like I wasn’t playing to the capability that I know that I can. It was ugly, especially that Phoenix game. And then I was just worn down.”

Part of the problem was a lingering hamstring injury that Gordon suffered after the NBA’s restart in 2020. He was also dealing with a sore ankle that left him feeling less than 100% all season.

“Last offseason, I had popped my hamstring in the bubble, so I couldn’t do anything over the summer,” he said. “I could barely run, I could barely walk. I couldn’t do anything. My mind was out of it, especially coming out of that bubble. Quick turnaround (to the new season). My fire, my passion, my drive just wasn’t there. I’m so (freaking) excited that Denver brought me in and has embraced me because it’s given me new life. It’s really lit my fire being around all these dudes that can play so well, and love the game, and love to win, like true competitors.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • In a podcast with Singer, Austin Rivers discusses the unexpected instability of his NBA career and the shock of being out of the league when he was traded and waived last March. He signed with the Nuggets in April and got a new contract during the summer, but he’s approaching the new season like he needs to prove he belongs. “I’m not any more comfortable now than I was a year ago,” Rivers said. “I’m still treating this like this is my last shot.”
  • Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is away from the team for the birth of a child and won’t play in Monday’s preseason opener. But the contest is still important to coach Michael Malone, who tells Eric Spyropoulos of“Preseason games are never about wins and losses, but every time we go on that floor, it’s an opportunity for us to establish our identity.”
  • Malone is hoping to expand the use of the three-point shot this season, and that was part of the focus of Saturday’s practice, Spyropoulos adds. The Nuggets were a top 10 team in three-point percentage last season at 37.7%. “We got a lot of threes up, but it’s about making sure we’re generating the right threes off of ball movement and off of the ball touching the paint,” Malone said.
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