Denver Nuggets’ Tim Connelly speaks on roster continuity, Summer League and more

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

During the Denver Nuggets’ loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly spoke to ESPN regarding Denver’s offseason and Summer League squad.

From Paul Millsap’s presence to potential breakout players from the Summer League team, Connelly discussed the path Denver has taken in recent years to build the current version of the team that will look to compete in a loaded Western Conference during the 2019-20 season.

Connelly’s comments from each question can be read below.

On Jamal Murray:

"He's a huge part of what we're trying to do. The success we had last year can be largely attributed to his development as a lead guard. We've had a lot of success growing and developing under coach Malone's tutelage. It's not easy to let young guys play through mistakes.”

On the Murray- Jokić connection:

"Nikola has such a unique feel for the game and has a great feel for how to maximize his teammates. Jamal has really figured out how to play off of him. He (Jokić) is so creative and does a great job of playing at his own pace. Those two have really developed into one of the best combos in the NBA."

On what led him to continue building this team with the Nuggets:

"I think the patience that ownership has allowed has been key. Continuity and patience are two words you don't often use in professional sports. We've had a slow build back to the playoffs and that wouldn't happen without an ownership group that would allow for such patience and an atypical rebuild."

On what excites him about Michael Porter Jr.:

"I think he (MPJ) is a real wing. a 6'11" true wing. Everyone is looking for real small forwards, guys that can play away from the basket. The real wing skill set that he has is unique. He's a natural shot-maker, he's getting better and better playing without the ball. When playing with the bigs we have, you have to be a ball-mover and not an iso guy. The fluidity he shows and the expectations he's seen, he's used to succeeding."

On the importance of Paul Millsap returning for another season:

"Huge. Without Paul we would be in a world of hurt. He brings leadership both on and off the court. If you look at our defensive numbers when Paul is playing compared to when he's not playing, it's pretty significant. We brought him here to teach our young guys how to win and he's done that."

On Nikola Jokić’s scoring aggression:

"We're greedy, we talk to (Nikola) all the time. We know how good he can be offensively. Sometimes his aggression looking for his own shot can create for others. He's obsessed with making the right play, so it's hard to get angry when you watch the tape and he makes the right read over and over again. I thought his willingness to step up in the big moments in our playoff games spoke to how special he is."

On potential breakout players from Summer League:

"What's fun about our group is we have all these young guys and we've been able to develop internally. There are always opportunities for our players. Last year in Summer League, Malik (Beasley) took strides towards being a rotation player and he had a fantastic regular season. So you look at guys like Thomas Welsh, Brandon Goodwin and Vlatko Čančar, we expected to have Michael out here, it's exciting because this is kind of the first step they have to gain trust from the coaching staff."

On the changing landscape in the Western Conference:

"We're all competitive, so we love it. It's a little daunting and frustrating to wake up and see another great player in the Western Conference, but if we want to take ourselves seriously and potentially be a championship-level organization and franchise, we are going to have to beat really good teams. I think our continuity and consistent approach the last several years will serve us well next season."

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