While there were many issues that came from the Denver Nuggets season opener against the Utah Jazz, several of them seem correctable over time. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are both rusty, but they will improve with game reps. The effort was lacking for much of the first half, but the Nuggets found a better sense of urgency in the second half. The Nuggets will make more than five three-pointers in perhaps all 81 other games this season.

Unfortunately, one problem that’s likely to persist is the bench unit.

Debuting at around the 2:00 mark in the first quarter on Wednesday night, the Nuggets produced a five-man bench unit featuring Bones Hyland, Bruce Brown, Davon Reed, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan. It became evident early in training camp that this was the direction head coach Michael Malone was leaning: a dynamic playmaking guard, a dynamic perimeter defender, and three steady veterans to keep the ship afloat until the starters return.

The lineup is fine in theory against opposing benches. In practice? It didn’t get off to a good start this season.

The Nuggets trailed the Jazz 30-25 with 2:17 left in the first quarter when the five-man group debuted. When the next sub occurred at the 10:52 mark in the second quarter, the Jazz had extended their lead to 42-30. It wasn’t egregious in the plus-minus department, but it was the way the lineup operated offensively that really became a cause for concern. The Nuggets committed five turnovers in three minutes and 25 seconds with that lineup on the floor, allowing the Jazz to generate easy baskets on the other end.

The group was sloppy, unfocused, and erratic, driving into a set defense with no plan fairly consistently and allowing easy points in transition by not getting back in time.

To change the tempo early in the second quarter, Malone went to an old trick he hadn’t been able to use for 18 months, bringing back in Jamal Murray to stem the tide. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Murray hasn’t played in 18 months and was understandably rusty. He was unable to change things for that bench unit. If anything, things went from bad to worse because the Jazz scored on four straight possessions before Nikola Jokić could get back on the floor. By the time the Nuggets went back to their full starting unit at the 8:55 mark in the second quarter, they were trailing 50-30.

So, with Nikola Jokić off the floor for a grand total of five minutes and 22 seconds, Denver was outscored 20-5.

While there were certainly other issues throughout the game, this was the definitive stretch. Imprecise play on offense and incapability on defense. The Nuggets looked lost out there. Take out this 15-point deficit, and Denver’s 21-point margin in this loss drops to just six. The Nuggets would have had a much better chance to win when they finally made a significant second half push.

So, what really went wrong on Wednesday?

The Jazz made life difficult on both ends for Bones Hyland. When the Nuggets were on offense, the Jazz showed Bones bodies consistently, and that bothered the second-year guard. Unfortunately, Bones didn’t make things easier on himself either. He drove into traffic on multiple occasions and tried to force plays that weren’t there. Defensively, the Jazz targeted him with Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker, both of whom made physical moves to outmuscle Bones.

Jeff Green also had a rough game. His immediate matchup, Rudy Gay, scored 16 points on eight shots and was a plus-24 in the game. Gay hit plenty of shots over Green’s outstretched arm, and the Nuggets veteran just couldn’t find a rhythm on either end of the court. The Nuggets tried Green at backup center (over actual backup center Zeke Nnaji, for what it’s worth) but they still couldn’t score frequently enough to outpace the Jazz. green scored six points, grabbed four rebounds, and was at minus-18 in 16 minutes.

Of course, Green also dunked Kelly Olynyk back into 1972. He will probably be just fine.

Then, there’s DeAndre Jordan, getting the nod at backup center to begin the season. Nuggets fans were understandably concerned with the signing when it happened, but throughout training camp and preseason, Jordan made a positive impression with his rebounding, screen-and-rolling, and veteran voice in the locker room. That didn’t translate to the game on Wednesday. Jordan played just six minutes, grabbing two rebounds and not attempting a shot. The Nuggets were outscored by 13 in the minutes he was on the floor in the first half. He didn’t see the court in the second half as a result.

In the first game, the five-man Denver Nuggets bench unit appeared lost and disconnected. During the preseason, the concerns were similar. The pressure on Bones is vast. Asking Bruce Brown to be a secondary creator is probably a misuse of his skill set when the spacing around him is limited. If there was more space to shoot and drive, perhaps he’d look better.

But playing Reed, Green, and Jordan together is asking for trouble on both ends of the floor. Without space to operate, the decision making for the Nuggets was poor during that stretch. It led to turnovers, runouts, and easy baskets on the other end.

The Nuggets need to open up the paint a little more. That could come via a number of substitutions. The cleanest way is to exchange Jordan for Nnaji at center, a rim roller versus a potential pick and pop option with gravity at the three-point line. Another way? Stagger Michael Porter Jr. with the second group. That might be made more difficult with Green since the two basically play the same position. If the Nuggets go smaller with Porter at power forward and Green at center, that would certainly open up the paint, although it may compromise Denver’s defense in the process.

Christian Braun for Davon Reed might also be in play, adding a more athletic, defensive-minded wing that will push the pace in transition. Braun is inexperienced though, and he will likely need an adjustment period himself.

Perhaps another trusty ball handler and decision maker could help the offense. Ish Smith represents a steady hand that would relieve some of the pressure facing Bones. The two had success playing together in preseason, and perhaps the Nuggets could use that extra jolt of energy and variability. Eventually, Murray may be the perfect option here as well, staggering with the second unit to give Bones a release valve with high level scoring and playmaking chops. Until Murray’s back to seeing the court and playing full speed though, that might not be an immediate solution.

Ultimately though, running out the same unit is unlikely to lead to a drastically different result. There may be times when the bench holds even with an opposing second unit. After all, it’s difficult to turn the ball over that many times in such a short span. Denver likely won’t be as bad as they were; however, asking them to be genuinely good while the starters continue to search for chemistry? That seems like a tall task.

Whatever happens, it was just the first game of the year. Perhaps this is an overreaction to a weird opening game on the road. Perhaps the bench figures out some sustainable methods under its current construction.

I have my doubts.