Former Nugget Issel Impressed By Coach Malone This Year

Former Nuggets player and coach Dan Issel joined CBS4 sports anchor Michael Spencer for Monday’s edition of Xfinity Monday Live at ViewHouse Centennial.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Dan Issel, who coached the Denver Nuggets for two different stints, was very complimentary of the job Michael Malone has done in his second season with the team.

Michael Malone (Photo by Getty Images)

Michael Malone (Photo by Getty Images)

“I love the job that Michael has done,” said Issel. “Michael is old school. Michael would rather be a defensive team, but he’s smart enough to know he’s got a bunch of very good offensive minded players, and he’s kind of moved away from that. As a result they’ve got a shot at .500 this year.”

The Nuggets are currently 25-31 with 26 games remaining in the season.

Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic has been a surprise in just his second season in the league. Jokic is averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists during the month of February.

Alec Burks of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 24, 2017. (credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Alec Burks of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 24, 2017. (credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“He has great vision,” said Issel. “He’d rather pass the ball than shoot it and he has a feathery touch.”

The Nuggets are currently in the eighth spot in the Western Conference, which would put them in the playoffs if the season ended today, but they’ll have some tough competition as the season draws to a close.

In a trade that sent shockwaves around the NBA, the New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday, adding a big scoring presence to their lineup to pair with Anthony Davis. Cousins, who is currently averaging 27 points and 10 rebounds per game, had spent his entire NBA career with the Kings.

The Pelicans trail the Nuggets by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot, and the two teams will meet three times before the end of the regular season.

“The Pelicans just got a whole lot better,” said Issel. “I think DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented players in the league. I’m not talking big guys; I’m talking the whole league. If Coach Alvin Gentry and can get his attitude adjusted a little bit, and if he and Davis can play together, which they should be able to, then the Pelicans are going to be a real threat for the Nuggets in that eighth seed.”

The Nuggets will have their first game since the NBA All-Star break on Thursday against Cousins’ former team, the Kings, in Sacramento. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m.

Michael Spencer is a Sports Anchor at CBS4. Read his bio or connect with him on Twitter @MichaelCBS4.

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