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Assessing the Coaching Staff at Denver Nuggets Ahead of the 2020-21 NBA Season

| December 9, 2020 3:30 am PDT
Denver Nuggets Coaching Staff Analysis for 2020-21

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably noticed the rise of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The duo was instrumental for the Denver Nuggets, who reached the Western Conference Finals in the previous NBA season.

The stars took most of the credit, but the coaching staff deserves attention as well. Mike Malone and his assistance have been excellent for the organization recently. I decided to share my thoughts on every member of the Nuggets coaching staff going into the 2020-21 NBA season.

That could help you understand the direction of the franchise, as well as the potential problems in the upcoming campaign.

Mike Malone – Basketball Runs in the Family

Let’s begin with Michael Malone, the head coach of the Denver Nuggets. His father, Brendan Malone, was in various NBA coaching roles for three decades, so the family obviously loves basketball.

Mike Malone entered the best basketball league in the world at the age of 30 and worked as an assistant for more than 10 years before earning his big chance in Sacramento. He failed to deliver the expected results and was fired in 2015, but the Nuggets hired him immediately.

Denver had a respectable record in the first three years of his reign but failed to reach the playoffs. That changed in the previous two campaigns when the team had strong regular-season records and even reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020.

Malone’s offense is smart and designed around the main strengths of his top players. Nikola Jokic is the focal point on that end of the floor, while Jamal Murray is the other ball-handler, creator, and scorer.

The Nuggets head coach was under scrutiny for limiting Michael Porter Jr.’s minutes last season, but I believe that was harsh. Jerami Grant was better defensively, and let’s not forget that youngster has an injury record that requires special attention.

I believe we will see more from him next year, and MJP has vowed to convince Malone that he deserves more minutes. With Grant out of the picture, I’m pretty sure that he will get them.

As for the defensive end of the floor, Malone has done a solid job there too. Nikola Jokic is too slow to protect the paint and has been exploited in certain matchups, but there’s not much you can do about that, and the Serbian is simply unstoppable on the other end.

If you want to know more about Malone and his view, I can recommend the following post-season interview.

The head coach shares a lot of insights about the franchise and Denver’s future goals.

Denver Nuggets Assistant Coaches

Most NBA fans know at least something about Mike Malone, but that’s not the case with his assistants. Let’s take a closer look at every member of the coaching staff.

Wes Unseld Jr.

One of the main reasons behind Denver’s rise in the past two seasons is excellent player development. Many people forget that Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are still young athletes who became stars with the Nuggets.

Michael Porter Jr. is on the same path, and assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. deserves a lot of credit for their trajectory. He has been involved in scouting and player development for most of his coaching career, including his five seasons with the Nuggets.

He’s currently working closely with rookie Zeke Nnaji, and the main goal would be to develop him into a lockdown defender, as the player himself stated. Given Unseld Jr’s record with young athletes, I have high expectations for Nnaji’s future.

The lead assistant’s other area of expertise is defense, and he had a key role in improving the Nuggets on that end of the floor in the 2019-20 season.

John Beckett

The coaching assistant and Director of Player Development, John Beckett, is another person who was crucial for the rise of Denver’s young stars. His main role is related to scouting the right players and creating a plan for their development.

In a sense, Beckett is the mastermind behind the organization’s long-term strategy, while Unseld Jr. is the guy who works with the players daily.

David Adelman

If you recognize the family name, that’s because David Adelman is the son of NBA legend Rick Adelman. He followed his father’s footsteps early on and has been working as a basketball coach since 2001. Adelman was very successful at the helm on a high school level before joining the NBA in 2011.

He joined the Denver Nuggets in 2017 and has been part of the coaching staff since. Adelman is another guy who has experience developing young players after spending three years as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league team.

Jordi Fernandez

Next in line is Jordi Fernandez, who has plenty of experience in different areas. He has worked as a player development assistant in the NBA, a G-League head coach, and even an assistant for the Spanish national team.

Fernandez is an expert in developing drills that improve the day-to-day training process of the Nuggets.

Ryan Bowen

Ryan Bowen has been close to Mike Malone since his days in Sacramento, and he moved to Denver alongside the head coach. Bowen has more than 500 games in the NBA as a player, and many of them were for the Nuggets.

He has a solid reputation in the city and managed to continue his career in basketball after retiring, thanks to his deep understanding of the game. He started as a video coordinator and worked his way up to an NBA assistant.

Other Coaching Staff Members

One of the staff’s youngest members is Charles Klask, Denver’s main video coordinator. He started his career as an interim for the Pistons and proved he belongs in the NBA with his work.

The group is completed by Felipe Eichenberger, who’s the strength and condition coach, and Dan Shimensky, who serves as the Head Athletic Trainer. The duo is responsible for the physical preparation of the Denver Nuggets.


It’s obvious that the Nuggets are counting heavily on player development, and the results have been excellent. The big question is if Mike Malone and his team can take the next step and fight for the title.

My personal opinion is that the Nuggets will be great for the years to come. Feel free to disagree in the comments below.

If you found this post on the Denver Nuggets coaching staff useful, I can certainly recommend a few more blogs that cover other teams.

I also encourage you to keep following our NBA blog for more useful content about the league in the future.

Jerry Summer
Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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