Michael Malone says Nuggets ‘want to emulate Paul Millsap’
The Denver Nuggets came into the playoffs as the second seed in the Western Conference, but they are facing a very experienced San Antonio Spurs team in the first round. Despite being a very young team, they’re able to hang with the veteran Spurs squad that has appeared regularly in the postseason.
One of the main reasons why the Nuggets are able to be successful is the presence of Paul Millsap. The 13-year veteran has the most playoff experience in the squad, which makes him a very valuable asset. His leadership both on and off the court is the foundation of Denver’s culture, and head coach Michael Malone said the younger players on the squad would like to be like him.
“The class he carries himself with, all our guys want to emulate Paul Millsap,” Michael Malone told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “They watch him. They learn from him. They listen to him. Everybody in our organization has benefited from Paul Millsap being here.”
Meanwhile, Millsap said that he likes being able to serve as a mentor to a Nuggets squad that is the eighth youngest in the NBA.
“I’m at a point where I am able to embrace where I am at, and that’s being a mentor and a leader to these guys … helping these guys get to the next level,” Millsap said, per Orsborn. “I take pride in that. I know my role, and I know what I need to do.”
Although the Nuggets have exceeded expectations this season, most of the guys on the team are still rookies in the playoffs. Millsap wants to help them adjust but also understands that he can’t overdo the role of being leader.
“You just got to let it happen. That’s one thing I feel I am good at: not forcing the issue. Just letting things happen, let things play out. Because at the end of the day, there have to be lessons, there have to be things that happen for people to understand how to evolve, how to get past (mistakes). And when they do happen, I am there to help them out.”
Millsap’s commitment to the team goes beyond the playoffs though, as he is optimistic that the Nuggets will be the last team he’ll play for until he decides to retire; and he wants to repay the franchise’s trust by helping them win a title.
“I could see myself being here long-term for the rest of my career. I can see this organization and this group of guys making a nice play at the championship.”