Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is more of an old-school coach than some others, routinely making rookies prove that they can hold up defensively before offering them a significant offensive role. Aside from the defensive end, the entire concept of team basketball is drilled into his team, much to their benefit as they lead the Western Conference with a 51-26 record.
Of course, not every player on the roster will have a perfect game offensively or defensively.
Its more about adhering to the principles than production or skill when it comes to Malone’s tough coaching style.
Even when it comes to players like fourth-year pro Michael Porter Jr., the 14th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. An incredible jump shooter and quality rebounder early on, Porter had a lot of work to do to become a better player.
He needed to become a reliable defender. A player who did more off-ball than shoot.
And, despite all of the negative criticism he faced when he struggled, he did.
That’s earned him high praise from Malone (h/t the Denver Post’s Mike Singer).
“…obviously he’s been a much more engaged and willing and caring defender this year, and his health has allowed him to be more effective on that end.. But offensively, what he’s shown to me, it’s really jumped off the screen is, the way he’s played with an attack mindset. He’s not just a pretty jump shooter…”
“… So now you’re dealing with a guy that can hurt you from 30 feet out, can put the ball on the floor, can get to the cup, can make his free throws, that’s helping us on defense and is rebounding at a high level… a complete basketball player. I give Michael a tremendous amount of credit…”
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