Will Barton went down with a serious hamstring injury last week. Monte Morris also went down with a hamstring injury and of course Jamal Murray with his ACL tear in his left knee. These remaining young guards are stepping up in a big way as the Nuggets are 6-2 since losing Murray for the year.
Facundo Campazzo and PJ Dozier and are now the starting guards for the Denver Nuggets
The 30-year-old rookie Facundo Campazzo has been leaned on a lot since the Murray injury, being inserted into the starting lineup and playing upwards of 30 minutes per night. He is the primary point guard of the Denver Nuggets and is tasked with running and leading the weapons they have at the wing and forward positions.
Campazzo truly shares point guard duties with potential MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. He seems to really mesh with Nikola Jokic, they both play at their own open tempo, almost at a different beat than the other eight guys on the court. Against the Houston Rockets, the two became the fourth teammates in Nuggets history to have 12+ assists in the same game.
The two run the pick and roll to perfection as they both can make any pass on the floor from what comes off the switches and rotations. It is a real weapon when both the screener and the ball handler can fire perfect passes to anywhere on the floor. They consistently pick defenses apart as so many teams want to switch the pick and roll or bring backside help.
Michael Malone has also used Campazzo as the screener in a lot of sets. When he screens Nikola’s man it forces his man to go over the top or bring in the backside help. That split second of hesitation is destroying defenses as Nikola picks apart the backside rotation with passes or simply slips to the rim for easy looks. The NBA should have been put on notice that “Facu” is a very capable screener after he floored the 6-10 Ben Simmons when he tried to set a pick on him.
Campazzo’s only downside is his inability to create his own shot. He shoots 22% on pull-up opportunities however shoots 37.5% from behind the arc. He seems to struggle with getting his shot off against the speed of the NBA. However, his ability to read the game and get downhill despite his lack of blazing speed is a testament to his experience overseas.
PJ Dozier has come alive since being inserted into the starting lineup. The 6-6 guard is attacking the rim and finishing over other guards with ease. His frame and athleticism make him a real weapon attacking the basket. He is a good rebounder to have at the guard position, and he is a smart player who knows how to attack switches and the backsides of the Jokic double teams.
Dozier is showing flashes of brilliance. Against the Houston Rockets, he had 23 points on 10-13 shooting, 3-5 from 3, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He followed that up with a strong performance against the Memphis Grizzlies that might not have shown up in the box score. He was a big body who could keep up with the quickness and offensive explosion the Grizzlies have at their guard positions in Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. He was not very efficient on offense but his ability to get downhill opened shots for his teammates.