Preview: Denver Nuggets open 2021 Preseason against Clippers
Mile High Basketball is (unofficially) back!
With the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles to take on the LA Clippers tonight, the 2021-22 preseason begins, with Denver having five warmup contests over the next two weeks in preparation for the regular-season opener on Oct. 20th.
With several players likely unavailable for the Nuggets to open the preseason, opportunities should arise for some younger players. The preseason games will be valuable experience against real competition for those younger players but also a veteran like Jeff Green, who can continue to adjust to Denver’s offensive and defensive schemes.
Let’s take a look at some potential storylines to watch in Monday’s contest.
TUNE-IN: 8:30 p.m. MT, Altitude Radio 92.5FM
First live action for Bones
Monday represents Bones Hyland’s first, unofficial NBA game. The 21-year-old rookie has received praise throughout training camp as a result of his steady play and effectiveness when pushing the pace.
Hyland’s ability to hit from deep and handle the ball as a combo guard allows Denver to use him in a variety of lineups. Hyland can work both on and off the ball, which serves him well to fit alongside Monte Morris, Facundo Campazzo, and Will Barton, among others.
The initial preseason games against live competition could present Hyland with his best opportunities to make a name for himself. The 26th pick in this year’s NBA Draft showcased what he can do throughout Summer League, mixing in playmaking with one-on-one scoring. If the rookie guard is able to replicate that performance in preseason action, it will go a long way in raising his stock.
Uncle Jeff makes his Mile High City debut
Jeff Green has played in his fair share of preseason games throughout his 13-year career, but Monday’s game against the Clippers represents another first in the veteran’s career, as he will likely make his unofficial Nuggets debut.
Denver’s marquee free agency addition, Green projects to fill a key backup role in the frontcourt throughout the season, teaming up with JaMychal Green to form Denver’s second-unit frontcourt.
Green brings versatility to both ends of the floor for Denver, capable of playing both on-and-off the ball on the offensive end while guarding multiple positions on the defensive end of the floor. Although Denver won’t have its full complement of players throughout the entire preseason, Monday’s game allows Green to showcase his game against live competition for the first time as a Nugget.
An opportunity to get better
Monday’s matchup with the Clippers is just another step in the preparation process for opening night. Going from scrimmages at practice to live-action against real opponents allows Denver to face different looks on both ends of the floor as the Nuggets look to sharpen up ahead of Oct. 20th.
“Get better,” Nuggets Head Coach Michael Malone said Saturday when asked about expectations for the first game. “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.”
Plenty of players will be given opportunities to showcase what they can bring to the table within the context of an actual game, with the understanding that preseason games are valuable learning experiences for both coaches and players on the road to the regular season.
“These five preseason games that we have are all part of training camp,” Malone added. “Everything leading up to the 20th of October is a part of training camp. And our first goal as an organization is to find a way to improve every single day.”