Putting last night's debacle in Los Angeles behind them, the Golden State Warriors return home tonight to host the Denver Nuggets, who had high expectations - and Anthony Randolph! - entering the 2012-13 NBA season.
To help us switch gears and focus on the next opponent, I contacted Nate Timmons of SB Nation's Denver Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs for a Q&A about the state of the Nuggets.
1. Some people's expectations for the Nuggets this season were awfully high, particularly after Harden was traded to Houston. Having seen a few actual games now, how far do you think this team can go?
Nate Timmons: I'm glad that you likely missed my radio spot in Denver where I picked them to win it all! Haha, off-season optimism is the best thing about sports, right?!?
The transition of losing Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington and implementing Andre Iguodala hasn't gone as smooth as I thought it would. I don't think people realize how important Harrington actually was to the team, especially late in games ... Afflalo, people expected to miss him. I still think Iguodala is an upgrade over Afflalo on the defensive side, and he's slowly coming around on the offensive end too. George Karl has been saying recently that Iguodala isn't a demanding personality and that he didn't want to rock the boat with what the Nuggets did last season, but Karl expects him to stamp his game on the team more-and-more over the next few weeks.
I don't think we'll know how good this team can be, this year, for another few weeks. A brutal road schedule (17 of the first 23 are on the road!) might make the record a little skewed for awhile, but I still think we're looking at a playoff team and hopefully one that can make a little noise when the time comes too.
2. Putting wins and losses aside, we had the Nuggets down as a solid league pass team. What excites you most about the season moving forward with a few games under your belt?
NT: From a watchability angle ... Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, JaVale McGee, and Kenneth Faried. Lawson's speed and ability to finish in traffic is always fun to watch and Miller tossing lobs to McGee and Faried can be breathtaking. We haven't seen too much of the "go-go Nuggets", but hopefully as the defense improves, we'll see more fast-breaking Nuggets ... we also need more home games!!!!
3. Colin Neilson of Denver Stiffs took an in-depth look at the Nuggets' early-season defensive struggles. As the team continues to come together, what do you think is the most important change they need to make defensively?
NT: Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari have been playing great perimeter defense, along with Corey Brewer. The Nuggets have been getting killed by the opposition's big men. The interior defense needs to improve and as Karl points out - the pick-and-roll defense needs to improve. The Nuggets did great against James Harden when they played the Rockets the other night (only 15 points, dropped his 35 point average down to 30 ppg!), but they need to find consistent defense ... especially on the interior.
4. Some Warriors fans had high hopes for Anthony Randolph when he was drafted (and I have to admit that the combo of Randolph and Javale McGee makes me chuckle). But as someone who has been around the team, what are your impressions of Randolph and what he needs to do to contribute?
NT: There is no doubt he's talented. In Denver, the bigs are asked to set screens, roll to the basket, defend, and rebound. After watching Randolph in preseason games, it's apparent that he likes to be involved offensively. That's not what he is asked to do in Denver, so far. So, until he shows that he can do the above better than Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, Kenneth Faried, and Wilson Chandler - he'll be out of the rotation. I do like his work ethic and he's usually one of the last guys to leave the practice court after getting in extra shots with the coaches.
5. The question is not whether the Warriors frighten you but what specifically frightens you most about the Warriors (without Bogut in the lineup)?
NT: I really like this Warriors team, really sucks that Brandon Rush went down, and I picked them to make the playoffs out West on Denver Stiffs. What scares me most is the Warriors ability to shoot the long ball. With Steph Curry and especially Klay Thompson, this team is never out of games and can easily go on runs of their own.
For more on the Nuggets, check out SBN's Denver Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs.