Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was back on the sidelines for Thursday’s preseason finale after spending some time away from the team following the death of his father. However, even during his absence, Malone didn’t stop coaching his players, according to Bennett Durando of The Denver Post, who writes that the veteran coach sent a text message to two-way player Braxton Key before Tuesday’s preseason game telling him to slow down on offense.
“I was just doing some things that were uncharacteristic. Trying to do a little too much at the offensive end. So I listened to him,” said Key, who responded with 14 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday vs. the Clippers.
As Durando notes, Key wasn’t the only young Nuggets player to get a message from Malone ahead of Tuesday’s contest. Michael channeled his late father Brendan in a text he sent to rookie Hunter Tyson.
“I said don’t ever lose your confidence,” Malone recalled. “That’s something my father told me for years. Don’t let anybody take away your confidence. I said, ‘Hunter, you’re a good shooter. And I see you hesitating now, I see you tentative.’ I said, ‘If you’re open, shoot the ball. Make or miss, shoot the ball. That’s what you do.'”
Tyson, who made just 9-of-28 field goal attempts (32.1%) and 5-of-19 three-pointers (26.3%) in his first three preseason games, responded by scoring 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting (3-of-7 threes), Durando writes.
Here’s more on the defending champions:
- Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda about a variety of topics, Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope expressed confidence in the team’s depth even after the offseason departures of key role players like Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. “We already know what Christian Braun can do with stepping into that role that Bruce had,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’re still going to be great. I still feel we haven’t lost a step.”
- Nuggets star Nikola Jokic didn’t suit up for the Serbian national team in this year’s World Cup, but Bozidar Maljkovic, the president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, expressed confidence in an interview with Juan Jimenez of AS.com that the two-time MVP will be playing in Paris in the 2024 Olympics, per BasketNews.com.
- Jamal Murray‘s torn ACL cost him a full regular season and two postseasons, but Jokic believes the guard has gotten to the point now where he’s even better than he was before the injury (story via TalkBasket.net). “He’s much better. Not even close. … Mature, experienced,” Jokic said. “I think just because the injury slowed him down, so he needed to read a little bit better. Maybe it sounds stupid, but the injury helped him.”
- As part of an interview with Katie Heindl of Uproxx, Murray said he appreciates how the Nuggets’ front office has handled its business since he joined the franchise. “These guys do a good job of communicating what’s happening or what they’re thinking,” Murray said. “I just like how they treat us like human beings that have families and lives and houses and mortgages and all that stuff, you know? It’s nice to get an update every once in a while about work.”