Word started to surface on Friday that the Nuggets might actually not start JaVale McGee, even after his tremendous playoff performance against the Lakers, and despite what many are calling an unbelievable offseason of workouts. Is Kosta Koufos or Timofey Mozgov really better than McGee at this point? In an interview with the Denver Post, Karl talked about the situation and actually gave a really illuminating answer.
Q: You’ll likely start Ty Lawson at point guard, Iguodala at shooting guard, Gallinari at small forward and Kenneth Faried at power forward. What about center?
A: Training camp is going to tell me who plays. My idea right now is Mozgov would start with Faried and JaVale would stay with (reserve point guard) Andre Miller. But again, I don’t (care) about starting lineups, and you guys are already stirring the pot. It’s all about how many minutes you play, who you play with, how well you play and how we play (when you’re on the court). Kosta Koufos is in the mix, too. Let’s make sure you understand that. In the last 15-20 games of the season, when Timo got hurt, Kosta not only played well but good enough to get us to the playoffs.
Q: Why do Miller and McGee connect so well?
A: I think Andre has such a distinctive ability to see a play before it happens. And JaVale has such a large, athletic space to get the ball to, above the defense. So the lobs and spins and all that stuff, Andre has the courage to throw the ball — and he throws it very well.
It’s actually a really good idea. The Nuggets use a lot of the dual point-guard lineup with Ty Lawson and Andre Miller, so minutes aren’t a problem. Meanwhile, Karl can pair the best lob player with the best lob maker.
It’s not a super-complicated idea but it’s a subtle adjustment. The issue is that by all accounts, no one has worked harder in the offseason than JaVale McGee. How will he react to staying on the bench after all that work? It’s a tricky situation for the Nuggets to deal with, and part of the problem with their abundant depth.
Interesting note, Miller and McGee were -4.6 last year in 270 minutes together, thanks mostly to a 110 points allowed per 100 possessions mark. The defense has to be much better overall this year for the Nuggets, but in particular for that combination.