Preview: Denver Nuggets face Orlando Magic in final scrimmage

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

For the final time before the seeding games begin, the Denver Nuggets will have an opportunity to work their way into game-shape and fine-tune their on-court chemistry when they take on the Orlando Magic in Monday’s scrimmage.

For Denver, the first two scrimmages have been difficult challenges given the lack of available bodies at head coach Michael Malone’s disposal. Troy Daniels has been the only guard active in both scrimmages, which has led to some unusual lineups taking the court.

The hope is Monday’s scrimmage provides an opportunity for Malone and the coaching staff to get a better sense of where the team’s main rotation players are in terms of conditioning and chemistry.

Here are three storylines to watch in Monday’s contest.

Will this be Bol’s final audition?

Bol Bol has been the talk of the town for the first two scrimmages. Although the rookie’s shot selection has left a little to be desired, the 7’2” big man has showcased his unique skill set, as he has confidently knocked down 3-pointers, blocked plenty of shots and has even handled the ball in transition.

However, when the games begin to count and Denver’s roster reaches full strength, it remains to be seen what role Bol will play, if he will even crack the rotation. Denver boasts impressive depth in the frontcourt, which could make it hard for Bol to see the floor for meaningful minutes.

Whether or not he sees action in the seeding games, Bol has certainly shown that he can impact the game in a major way, despite lacking NBA experience. Monday will likely present another opportunity for the 20-year-old to make his case for playing time in the seeding games and beyond.

Will Malone get a fair evaluation of his team?

Let’s be honest, the first two scrimmages have presented little evidence that the Nuggets’ coaching staff can use to further their decision-making process. Denver has almost exclusively played lineups that will never take the court during the seeding games or when the rotation is near full strength.

Malone has been forced to play groupings with upwards of four or five big men as a result of Denver’s backcourt missing key pieces. It would go a long way in understanding where the Nuggets are if they are able to play a majority of their rotation in Monday’s scrimmage.

While players such as Jamal Murray and Will Barton III have been held out for cautionary reasons, it would provide a boost if the two can suit up Monday.

Daniels looks to make a final statement

Although Bol has understandably received the majority of the attention during Denver’s first two scrimmages, the conversations should also be focused on Troy Daniels, who has quietly put up two impressive performances during those games.

Against the Washington Wizards, Daniels poured in 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists. The 29-year-old guard followed that up with a 28-point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday, which included 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.

Like Bol, it remains to be seen what role, if any, Daniels will have in the seeding games. However, the veteran guard provides elite 3-point shooting, something that Denver’s rotation can certainly use. However it plays out, Daniels can take comfort in knowing he put his best foot forward in the scrimmages to make his case for playing time.

Monday’s scrimmage will tip-off at 5 p.m. MT and will air on Altitude TV.

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