The Denver Nuggets are making a mistake by not putting Bol Bol in the rotation.
The Denver Nuggets’ woeful defense is the team’s primary concern so far this season, yet Nuggets head coach Michael Malone refuses to concede that the second unit backcourt of Monte Morris and Facundo Campazzo is often undersized and outmatched on the defensive end.
That’s not to say that the two aren’t talented offensive players, with Morris excelling in the role of a tertiary scorer and Campazzo as a fiery floor general.
Nonetheless, improving the team’s defense — which ranks in the bottom-10 of the league’s teams in points allowed, defensive rating, steals per game, blocks per game, opponent’s field goal percentage and opponent’s 3-point percentage — requires Denver to make a significant shake-up somewhere in the rotation.
That said, it’s time for Malone to cut some Campazzo’s minutes and give skilled 7’2″ forward Bol Bol a chance to make an impact on both ends.
Even cutting all of Campazzo’s minutes could benefit the Nuggets. Despite Malone’s fascination with and appraisal of the 29-year-old rookie, his on-court impact — on either end — has been minimal and frankly replaceable.
While Campazzo — whose basketball IQ, passing ability and pesky defensive style are noted — is shooting a solid 40.0% from 3-point range, he’s averaging just 4.7 points, 1.4 assists, 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.
Where does Bol fit in the rotation?
Of course, it’s understood that the Nuggets’ have been playing without Michael Porter Jr., who has made improvements on the defensive end but won’t be Denver’s defensive solution.
Porter’s return will reduce the amount of minutes that Bol can play at small forward, in theory. However, there’s the possibility that Will Barton — who will likely return to a sixth man role upon MPJ’s return due to his inconsistent play on both ends — can take over as the backup shooting guard.
P.J. Dozier, a perimeter player with enough length and skill to play both backcourt and wing positions, is valued for his on-ball defense; he should remain in the rotation, playing wherever he’s needed.
It never made much sense for Malone, often described as a defensive-minded head coach, to think it wise to play an undersized second unit with at least one player (looking at you, Monte) being a weak defender. It was further head-scratching that, regardless of his affinity for Campazzo’s play, to see how mediocre an impact he was making and decide that he would rather keep him in the rotation that give more minutes to a better defender or more dynamic offensive option.
Nonetheless, while Malone is unlikely to put Bol in the rotation, his role should be monitored.