Which Denver Nuggets players will have the biggest impact on the season?
DENVER — There are no surprises about who will have a huge impact on this season, even if there are some who will be expected to carry a heavier load.
Denver has an already strong defensive frontcourt with Danilo Gallinari, Jameer Nelson, Emmanuel Mudiay and Kenneth Faried.
That unit should be strong enough to carry the load offensively, too.
Denver needs its starters to have a clear identity to succeed.
The team has not had a breakout season in many years, and this should be no different.
“We’ve got to be confident that our guys can handle the pressure,” coach Mike Malone said.
“We’re in a different situation than last year.
We’re in this new era, where we have to make some adjustments.”
The Nuggets have had a rough stretch of three straight losing seasons in a row.
They are 6-10 since the All-Star break.
Malone had some optimism heading into the All Access series with the Lakers because he believes the Nuggets have a chance to be a contender.
He expects the Nuggets to get back to winning ways.
“They’ve got a lot of talent, a lot more experience than we did last year,” Malone said of the Lakers.
“The Lakers have to come to this game, and we’re ready for it.
They’ve got talent, they’ve got experience, but they have to find a way to win games.”
Denver is averaging 111.4 points in the three games, but that is down from 114.6 points per game in the previous three.
That’s partly due to the return of Gallinaris, who averaged 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds last season.
He has struggled with his shooting.
Denver has scored at least 100 points in each of the last two games, and the Nuggets are averaging 107.7 points in those games.
The Nuggets’ defense, though, should be better with Gallinarians return.
Denver ranked last in the league last season in points allowed per possession.
Malone is confident that the team can continue to limit opponents to 91.5 points per contest, but he wants his players to do a better job of playing smart.
“I think they need to know that the ball has to go in their hands,” Malone told the team’s official website.
“If they’re playing in this offense, and you’re playing this offense in this game and they’re trying to put you in that position, they’re not going to give you a chance.”
If Gallinarian is healthy, he should be able to contribute at a high level.
He averaged 20.6 ppg last season, and he has made a good amount of strides this offseason.
He is the Nuggets’ leading scorer at 11.9 points per play.
Denver will likely have more depth in the frontcourt after losing veteran D’Angelo Russell to a knee injury.
The Nuggets are expected to give the veteran a chance back.
“I think D’Antoni has done a great job,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Fariasaid.
“He’s made a big impact on our team and has shown leadership, and I think that will carry over here.”
Farias also noted that Gallinarius has been a “big part of the team.”
Gallinari has not played since the first game of the season against the Lakers, but the veteran will be ready to play when he returns.
He also expects to be back when the Nuggets face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
The NBA has not released the full schedule for the All Rights Series.
Denver will play four games in three days.
The All Access Series begins Friday, Oct. 3, with the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center.
The Denver Nuggets play three games in four days.