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Nuggets’ Mike Malone hates losing, trying to adapt to more of it coming

Emmanuel Mudiay, Michael Malone

Emmanuel Mudiay, Michael Malone


There’s a lot of talent on the roster in Denver: Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez to name a few.

Every one of them is 21 years old or younger. While there are a few veterans on the roster — Danilo Gallinari, Jameer Nelson, Will Barton — all that youth getting minutes is going to mean losses are going to pile up in Denver. They should be improved this coming season, but not playoff improved. Not .500 improved.

No coach likes losing, it goes against their very DNA. No NBA coach gets to where they are without being uber competitive. So an NBA lifer like Mike Malone takes the losses hard. Very hard. And there were 49 of them in Denver last year. Malone told Matt Moore of CBS Sports (in a profile you should read all of) that he’s trying this year not to let the losses eat at him as much.

“We have a young team, for sure,” Malone said. “I hate to lose. I’m competitive. I go into every game truly expecting to win. My expectation, going into every game because we’re prepared, we’ve got everything down, is to win.

“But at the same time, I’ve got to do a better job of not taking losses so hard. It’s a long year. I have to be able to take a deep breath. If we come back young, or younger, I’m ready.”

They are young. And when you take a step back, you see a Denver team that could join Minnesota and Utah as teams on the rise in the West that could be very dangerous in a few years. Malone is doing a good job of changing the culture in Denver, essentially creating a healthy field and environment where the seeds of those young players can grow. The organization seems to be on the right path (even if the sports fans of Denver haven’t caught on yet).

But as a coach prepping his team every night, it’s tough to look at the big picture when the losses pile up. It’s something for Malone to work on, but not to get comfortable with. Good luck finding that balance.