Michael Malone offers fascinating quote about plans for Nuggets' backcourt

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages

Although it feels like this NBA transaction cycle is largely over, the Nuggets still have a lot of question marks on the current roster. They have an open roster spot, so they can still add a minimum free agent or swing some kind of trade. But it feels like any remaining moves will be fairly minor and for the most part, the team you see is the team you’ll get.

With that being said, it’s pretty clear that there’s a major deficiency in the team’s backcourt. Jamal Murray will be the team’s starting point guard and handle the bulk of ballhandling duties on offense. His backcourt mate from last season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is now on the Magic, and his backup, Reggie Jackson is now in Charlotte.

Nuggets have no proven guards on the bench

Christian Braun is slated to jump into the starting lineup and take most of KCP’s minutes, but that leaves a bench that is very short on ballhandling and playmaking. The team has done a nice job of addressing their lack of frontcourt depth, adding Dario Saric and drafting DaRon Holmes II, plus re-signing DeAndre Jordan and Vlatko Cancar. 

But the backcourt depth is another story and that’s why many have theorized that the Nuggets must use their final open roster spot on a backup point guard; Russell Westbrook has been the hot name connected to the team recently.

Malone thinks Julian Strawther can play point guard

On the other hand, maybe the solution for the Nuggets is already on the team. In a press conference on Wednesday, ahead of the team’s Las Vegas Summer League season, head coach Michaell Malone was raving about second-year player Julian Strawther and one line caught my eye, “We think he can play (point guard)”. 

This may just be coach-speak and Malone, of course, was doing his best to talk up his players, especially his young ones. The team will be counting on Strawther this year, who looked solid as a rookie before getting injured.

But Strawther was thought of as more of an off-guard or wing player, someone who would be most helpful spacing the floor and adding much-needed three-point shooting. But if Malone is serious, and Strawther can actually be the backup point guard, that would be a massive development and a huge new wrinkle for the team. 

This would allow the Nuggets to use their final roster spot on a player with a more desirable skillset, compared to a glaring need. They could go for shooting instead of ballhandling, or even leave the final roster spot open for flexibility going into the season. They could also stop pursuing a Westbrook trade and save whatever assets would be involved there.

This would be a lot of faith to put in a player who has yet to prove it at the NBA level, but it would be a big win for the team. Summer League will be a great first look and hopefully, we see Strawwther (and others) have a great showing and instill some confidence. 

Actions speak louder than words, so we’ll see how much Malone truly believes that Strawther can fill the team’s point guard needs soon enough. But if they don’t add another guard, it sounds like this could be the plan for the upcoming season.