Will Bones Hyland get playing time his rookie season? – The Denver Pos…

Beat writer Mike Singer opens up the Nuggets Mailbag regularly during the offseason. present a Nuggets — or NBA — related question here.

Who do you foresee starting the season in a G League uniform? And who from that group is most likely to move from the Gold back to the Nuggets later in the season?

— Jeff Swearingen, Denver (now living near Chicago)

Good question, Jeff. I should’ve cozied up to Jason Terry (the new Nuggets G League coach) who was at training camp in San Diego and playing complete-court pickup after practices against team staffers. Not that you asked, but Jet can nevertheless play.

The two most likely candidates to begin the season in the G League, in my opinion, are Markus Howard and Petr Cornelie. If Howard goes down there, I expect him to light up the G League. The reality for Howard is that Denver’s backcourt is loaded, and Bones Hyland may already be ahead of him on the thoroughness chart. There’s only so much need for smaller guards and Monte Morris and Facu Campazzo have that covered. That being said, teammates and coaches like Howard a lot. I’d expect him to bounce between the two.

Cornelie, Denver’s other two-way, has no NBA experience. He’s a tall stretch four or five, who turned a corner in the last few seasons playing overseas in France.

The big question is Bol Bol, who has built some momentum for himself with a strong training camp. On one hand, the Nuggets may want to reward him for his efforts and keep him around the team. On the other, he’s nevertheless raw. If Bol was sent to the G League, I think there’s a lot of curiosity over how he’d react. For now, I’m going to give him the assistance of the doubt.

The biggest story, sadly, is Michael Porter Jr. not getting vaccinated. How is this going to carry over with his best season projected?

—  @Seansky17 via Twitter

Michael Porter Jr. made his stance clear in that he’s not comfortable taking the vaccine. Given that he’s had COVID twice, his logic was that he knows how his body handled it and doesn’t know how it’d react to the vaccine. The unspoken part, of course, is that it’s impossible to know how he’d react to the new Delta variant.

While it’s a personal choice, the other unspoken aspect is that said personal choice can have a big impact on the rest of the team. If Porter tests positive again, or already if he’s had a close exposure, he’ll need to quarantine because he’s unvaccinated. A close exposure for a vaccinated player doesn’t mandate a quarantine. So, while I believe each player is entitled to their choice, each unvaccinated player needs to reconcile the personal vs. team impact. What’s Denver’s margin for error until Jamal Murray returns and can it resist missing games from MPJ? The NBA has implemented demanding testing and different protocols for unvaccinated players, which could, ostensibly, change a player’s mind.

How is Zeke Nnaji looking? Which players look the most comfortable?

— @bradsgood via Twitter

I think there have been encouraging signs from a handful of players, beginning with Aaron Gordon and P.J. Dozier. In my opinion, Gordon’s shooting stroke looks smoother and he appears to be launching with more confidence. That squares with what I’d been hearing on Gordon’s summer.

I also think Dozier has had a strong preseason. Defensively, he’s long, anticipates well and gets into the gaps. He seems to have a strong concept of team defense. Offensively, he’s a good cutter and has shown an improved pull-up game. The swing skill with Dozier is his 3-point shooting. If he can consistently knock down open 3s, he’ll be already more highly useful to Michael Malone’s rotation.

Both Jeff Green and JaMychal Green warrant a nod here, too. I think that pairing is going to be more productive than the Green-Millsap one last year. JaMychal looks energized and Jeff nevertheless has meaningful spring in his step. They’ll be the first save options in the frontcourt, probably ahead of Zeke Nnaji. Coming off a disappointing Summer League, Nnaji nevertheless has good fundamentals but he’s looked a bit hurried in his approach.

Should we be thinking about a PJ Dozier extension now? He’s looked great in these first 2 preseason games. If we wait until next summer and he plays like this, he’s going to get a bag. One the Nugs cannot provide.

— Jon, Golden

This is a great call, Jon. I think the Nuggets’ front office would be wise to consider extending Dozier, who’ll be a free agent next summer. Dozier has a big fan in Malone, and his value is about to rise. It slightly reminds me of Monte Morris in that the Nuggets loved him and had no interest in seeing him in another jersey. Dozier’s value, as a versatile defender and a unexpected offensive threat, should be enough to land him a multi-year deal. As for that impending luxury tax bill, cover your eyes, Mr. Kroenke.

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