3-on-3 Preseason Preview: Spurs vs. Nuggets


The Spurs made us come dangerously close to watching preseason overtime last game, let’s hope things aren’t quite as dramatic this time around. It’s a long season, gang, and we’ve got to pace ourselves. The game isn’t televised, but I’m sure you could find it streaming online somewhere. Not that we encourage that behavior, mind you.

1. Can these Nuggets actually compete for a title without a true offensive “star”?

Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: In some ways, one could put this question to the Spurs as well. Quants, like John Hollinger, have called into question the ability of deep teams without top-level stars to push through the Finals. It seems like a better recipe for winning championships is top-level talent that can go 42 minutes a game throughout the playoffs.

Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Yes and No. I don’t think this particular team will compete for a title. However, Denver is so deep and so athletic that, at some point don’t the road, a slightly more mature version of this squad could execute well enough to take down a dominant but more top heavy unit.

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: I say no. As much as I value defense and think it’s vital for a championship, you need a go-to scorer almost as much. When I look at this Nuggets roster, I see a lot of players who can produce — it’s really a very deep team — but I’m not sure who they lean on when they need offense late in a playoff game.

2. How much regular season playing time can a good preseason earn for Nando De Colo?

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: If De Colo can advance the ball and initiate the offense, it gives the Spurs a lot of defensive flexibility. For example, the Spurs’ 2nd unit could defend opposing backcourts by assigning point guard defense to Danny Green while “hiding” De Colo on a shooting guard. And so on.

Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: In recent years Popovich has been more open-minded regarding young players’ minutes. However, I still don’t see him breaking into the rotation. There are just too many talented players who already know the system waiting in line in front of him.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Not much, I would expect. Nando is a skilled player, but his shot is inconsistent and he’s a step slow defensively. With most of the roles on the team already carved out and a coach notoriously slow to trust rookies, I doubt he’ll see a lot of consistent minutes post-Halloween.

3. Is there any reason to be concerned about Kawhi Leonard’s 3-14 shooting thus far?

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: No. Kawhi is trying to do too much right now, but he’ll settle down.

Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: No, I don’t think so. Even the greatest shooters hit rough patches. It’ll take more than a dozen or so shots for me to start worrying about a sophomore slump.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: I don’t think so. It is just preseason, and Leonard is likely still being put in situations he’s not totally comfortable with. Only this time, they’re happening at NBA speed and not Summer League speed.

  • ThatBigGuy

    The Pistons won in 2004 without an offensive star, and nearly won again in 2005. Is this Denver team as good as the 2004 Pistons? Maybe, maybe not, but there is a precedent for a star lacking team to win. Considering that the current NBA is more perimeter oriented, and this Denver team looks to be excellent defensively on the perimeter, you’d have to give them a puncher’s chance.

    Can you see the Lakers or the Heat’s bench scoring anything on this team? OKC is purely perimeter oriented, and the Spurs are increasingly the same. Seeing Denver in the Conf Finals would be pretty scary for anyone.