Nuggets finding answers as preseason hits midway point

Denver looks to continue progress against Portland Trail Blazers
by Aaron Lopez

Two weeks, three games and 10 practices down. Two weeks, four games and eight practices to go.

The Nuggets are 3-0 as they reach the midway point of the preseason. Records, of course, mean little once the regular season opens in Philadelphia on Halloween, but Denver is starting to answer some of the questions it had at the start of training camp.

Near the top of that list was how newcomer Andre Iguodala would adjust to his new teammates after coming from Philadelphia to Denver on Aug. 10.

The answer so far: “Very well, thank you.”

Fresh off his appearance with the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, Iguodala has been a leader throughout training camp by being among the first to arrive and the last to leave after each practice.

While Iguodala’s statistics have been modest (9.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg), his impact has been tangible. His ability to drive and create from the wing opens up opportunities for forward Danilo Gallinari and point guard Ty Lawson, who often draw the most attention from opposing defenses.

“I’ve been trying figure out all the guys, where they like to catch the ball and score,” Iguodala said. “As long as I keep finding guys, it’s going open it up more for me and make the game easier for myself. And it’s fun that way. That’s the biggest thing.”

Another question entering camp centered around the center position. How would Nuggets coach George Karl employ 7-footers Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov?

So far, it’s been a near-equal time share, with Koufos playing 20 minutes per game, Mozgov 19 and McGee 17.7.

Koufos has been a monster on the boards, averaging 10.7 rebounds per game, which ranks third in the NBA. He had 13 rebounds Monday night, including eight on the offensive end.

“Kosta is probably our most fundamentally sound big guy,” Karl said. “He knows what we want better than the other guys and he’s committed to trying to get on the court. He doesn’t make mistakes.”

Having the luxury of three athletic big men, look for Karl to continue rotating them in the starting lineup based on matchups and performance.

Koufos could get the nod Wednesday night in Portland, but the Nuggets could be without Lawson, who is nursing a sore right elbow. Veteran point guard Andre Miller is expected to make his preseason debut, and Karl also hopes to have forward Wilson Chandler (hip) available for the first time.

Karl certainly will see a familiar face on the opposing bench. His son Coby has appeared in two games for the Trail Blazers as a non-roster invitee. Coby Karl spent several weeks playing pick-up games at Pepsi Center following offseason knee surgery.

“I think it’d be fun if he played because he’s played against a lot of guys in the gym here,” George Karl said. “There’s always that friendly motivation of playing against your friends. We’ll see.”

Game time Wednesday is 8 p.m. MT, with radio coverage on 950-AM in Denver.