Head Coach Michael Malone joined Scott Hastings and Tom Helmer in-studio on Altitude Sports Radio to discuss the offseason, pre-draft workouts and the draft, and the outlook for next season and Nikola Jokić.
The interview starts with the group touching on the Nuggets offseason. Since the start of the offseason, the players have been frequent visitors in the Nuggets practice court and weight room. With the gym full of player this week, Coach Malone talked about the meaning of his players putting in the work this offseason.
“The fact that we have a full gym in the middle of June, bodes well to next season. Our guys are committed. It was a great year, disappointing at the end. I think that left a bad taste in our players mouths and they want to come back and be a playoff team next year, and that starts this summer. And our guys are really taking that to heart.”
Hastings and Helmer asked Coach Malone to discuss what pieces the Nuggets need to add this offseason. Coach Malone spoke on the talent the team currently has.
“For us, we feel that we want to win, we want to be competitive, but not at the expense of retarding the development of Gary, Nikola, Will, Emmanuel, Jamal, Juancho, all the young talent. I think when you speak with people around the NBA, there’s a lot of excitement around our team because where we were and where are are, but importantly where we’re going. When you have the amount of young talent that we have, there’s a lot of cause for excitement.”
At the 8:30 mark, Malone discusses Emmanuel Mudiay’s role for next season and his summer focus.
The conversation then turns to the topic of defense. Coach Malone commented on focus the team has for improving this area of their game this season.
“Our biggest area of improvement has to be on the defense end. Our offense was off the wall. If we don’t defend better, we’ll be an exciting team to watch all season long, but we’ll miss the playoffs again. Our growth has to be defensively, that starts with me and extends all the way down our team.”
From the 9:45 mark to 16:30 minute mark, the group discusses defense.
After their discussion about defense in the league, Hastings and Helmer learn Coach Malone will soon be visiting Nikola Jokić in his home country, Serbia.
“I’m actually going to Sombor, Serbia. I’m going to hanging out with Nikola and his brothers, go camping, go hunting. He has his own race horse and he want me to see him race.”
The group then talks about the improvements Nikola Jokić will work for this offseason.
Hastings and Helmer then ask Coach Malone to describe the relationships his players have developed with one another. Coach Malone gives insight into how the players have become close both on and off the court.
“Being around them and getting to know them, one on one and being around them as a group, they care about each other. It’s a great, great step for us. It’s not just on the court. Our three rookies last season, Malik, Jamal and Juancho. You look at the next step, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, they’ve gotten very close. And the fact that we have all of these guys in the gym right now, it speaks volumes. After workouts, I’m going to take them out paintballing. This week was about coming together, working out and getting better. It was also about spending time together off the court as a team. I think you can never build enough team and we. I love the fact that our guys care about each other, not just as players but as people.”
Touching lastly on the Draft, Hastings and Helmer ask Coach Malone what he is looking for during workouts and what type of player the Nuggets are looking to add at the Draft.
“One thing I say to myself is with every player we look at is, can they play with Nikola Jokić? Let’s be honest, we’re playing with a guy that we feel has a chance to be an All-Star, an All-NBA player, potentially a Hall Of Fame down the road if he continues to progress and play at a high level. We’ve established an identity, how we’re going to play offensively. So whoever we bring in, we want to make sure there’s a fit there. That they can compliment each other, they can play off each other.”
Listen to the entire interview above.