Preview: Denver Nuggets conclude Preseason against Thunder

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

The final test run.

After kicking off the 2021-22 Preseason in Los Angeles last Monday, the Denver Nuggets wrap up their preparation for the regular season Thursday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

A second consecutive matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder will provide Nuggets head coach Michael Malone with an opportunity to see what Denver’s younger players have to offer, as the majority of the main rotation players won’t see the court in the final preseason contest.

Hopefully, Thursday’s game goes a little more according to plan than Wednesday’s contest, which saw Denver score 99 points and shoot 25 percent from beyond the arc in a loss to the Thunder.

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Final opportunities for younger players

As mentioned earlier, it’s likely that Denver’s youngest players will receive ample playing time Thursday, allowing players such as Bones Hyland, Zeke, Nnaji, Bol Bol, and Markus Howard to showcase how their skill sets can benefit the team’s rotation in the regular season.

Hyland has impressed consistently throughout the preseason, while Bol has shown flashes of elite rim protection from time to time. Thursday’s game will provide valuable game experience for all of the aforementioned players as they head into the regular season.

Continuing to let it fly

One of Denver’s main goals on the offensive end of the floor in the upcoming season is to increase the number of 3-point attempts within the flow of the offense. After averaging 34.2 attempts per game last season, the Nuggets aim to inch closer to 40 per game in the upcoming campaign.

Through four preseason games, Denver has achieved that goal and more, attempting 44.5 3-pointers per game. However, those shots haven’t fallen at a healthy rate, as the Nuggets have connected on just 32 percent of those attempts this preseason. Thursday’s game is another opportunity for Denver’s offense to find a rhythm heading into the regular season.

Valuing each possession

Another area Denver needs to work on in the final test run is taking care of the ball. After committing 15 turnovers in Wednesday’s loss, the Nuggets have averaged 17.3 per game throughout the preseason, which has put their transition defense under a lot of pressure.

Of course, there is a key difference between live-ball and dead-ball turnovers, but if Denver hopes to be elite on both ends of the floor this season, a good starting point is valuing each possession.

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