Breaking down the 2012 Summer League roster

Earlier today the Nuggets announced the 13 players Chad Iske will coach in the Las Vegas summer league next week. Nuggets fans should be pleased to know that every one of Denver’s draft picks from the last two seasons will be in attendance, only further proving that Masai and Josh are building an organization that values long-term player development. I’ll be heading out to Las Vegas this weekend to do some up close coverage of Summer League for Roundball Mining Company, and before our in-depth analysis gets rolling here’s a little bit of background on what we know about each of the prospects right now.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG, #5

Gutierrez promises to be one of the more interesting stories of the entire summer league. The former Lincoln High grad had a distinguished four year career at Cal, winning both Pac 12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in his senior season. His calling card is defense and Gutierrez is known for shutting down high-powered scorers. Gutierrez’ performance at the NCAA level was good enough to get him drafted, but NBA teams probably decided to pass due to his unremarkable length and athleticism. Still, this guy is relentless on the floor and as Kalen told me after the draft, his defense and intangibles are amazing.

Beyond being a really interesting NBA prospect, Gutierrez has local Denver ties. He immigrated to Colorado from Chihuahua, Mexico at age 16 in search of a basketball future. He landed at Lincoln High and worked his way up to the prep circuit and eventually an NCAA scholarship with Cal. His extremely inspirational story has been the subject of some controversy as he was technically an illegal immigrant before getting a student visa to attend college. You can read more about Jorge’s fascinating background here and here.

Evan Fournier, G/F, #94

Fournier’s inclusion on the summer league roster comes as a bit of surprise since it’s not totally clear whether the Nuggets intend to sign him for next season. He still has one year remaining on his pro contract with Poiters, but it’s possible the French team allowed him to work out for the Nuggets or reached a buyout with him and his agent.

Getting an extended look at Fournier is great news for the Nuggets. After getting a little more acquainted with him following the draft, I have a new appreciation for his game and his potential to be an impact player in the NBA. There’s limited footage available of him, but it’s clear to me he’s at his best in two areas – transition and coming off screens, both of which make him a very good fit in an offense like Denver’s. I do have some doubt about whether or not he can get to the basket and finish at the NBA level as Fournier has pretty average strength, speed and athleticism. He also needs to improve his shooting numbers quite a bit.

The Nuggets roster is currently so full I doubt Fournier makes the team, but this is the one opportunity for Denver to coach him up and see what he’s made of against NBA caliber talent.

Josh Carter, SG/SF, #23

Carter is a 24 year old swingman out of Texas A&M. He went undrafted in 2009 and has since spent several years overseas, most recently with Maccabi Ashdod in Israel.

Kenneth Faried, PF, #35

Not a whole lot needs to be said about Faried. The Manimal is fresh off of averaging a double double in his first career playoff series and he’s in Vegas to stay in shape and expand his game. Faried doesn’t have a whole lot to prove relative to the rest of the fringe NBA prospects here and he’s likely going to embarrass a few of them. Faried will definitely try to add some things to his game, but avoiding too much wear and tear or injury is priority number one.

Jordan Hamilton, SG/SF, #1

We already covered Hamilton pretty extensively in the 3-on-3, so I’ll keep this short. This is a big summer for Jordan Hamilton. He’s in position to help the Nuggets a great deal next season, but he’ll first have to carve out a role. It starts with showing the coaches he isn’t a rookie anymore and is worthy of more responsibility. If Hamilton struggles or looks disinterested as he did in the D-League last year, his development could be further stalled. Hamilton should lead this team and be a primary playmaker on both ends of the court.

Demonte Harper, G, #22

Kenneth Faried’s buddy and former college teammate gets a tryout with the Denver Nuggets. Harper was the second best player on that 2011 Morehead State team and is best known for his game winning three in Morehead’s upset win over Louisville in the NCAA tournament (which took place in Denver of all places).

Derwin Kitchen, G, #20

Kitchen went undrafted out of Florida State in 2011 and played last year for Maccabi Rishon in Israel. He’s an athletic guard and much like Josh Carter, I know very little about him and haven’t seen him play before.

Quincy Miller, SF/PF, #30

The consensus on Miller is that he’s too raw to help an NBA team right now. It doesn’t make sense for so many teams to have passed him up in the draft without believing that he doesn’t quite know how to use his length and size at the next level. Personally, I think that’s a bit shortsighted as Miller showed advanced basketball skill even in a reduced role at Baylor. Miller could be the total sleeper of summer league and turn out to be the best player on this team. On the other hand, I tend to believe his development will be a longer process because he has a very weird frame and is truly without a natural position in the NBA. Look out for Miller’s ability to score and defend in the post during summer league, it could tell a lot about how he might fit into the NBA game.

Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF/C, #12

I literally can’t find any footage of Izzet playing in a real basketball game. He’s an intriguing guy at 7-foot-1, but he’s going to be severely overmatched at just 210 pounds. I’m excited to see how he does as I know nothing about Izzet, but he better have incredible skill because his 7-foot-tall body is just not fit for NBA level competition yet.

Chu Chu Maduabum, PF, #14

Nuggets fans haven’t heard much out of Chu Chu since he was selected late in the second round of the 2011 draft. This will be the first time many of us get to see Chu play as he spent only a very limited amount of time in the D-League 2 years ago and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. I have no idea what to expect, but he’s supposed to be a rugged defender who blocks shots and rebounds.

Julyan Stone, PG, #10

Stone shows a great feel for the game whenever he’s on the court and reminds me of a young, hungry Afflalo with the way he gets after it on defense. Not a lot of players take the D-League seriously, but Julyan showed incredible poise and leadership in his stint with the Idaho Stampede last year. He can frequently be seen communicating with his teammates and making sure they know their responsibilities. The things Stone needs to work on going forward are his shooting and consistency on offense. He’ll need to be able to shoot and score a little more in order for the Nuggets to have more confidence in him as backup PG

Gani Lawal, PF, #31

I liked Lawal a lot in the 2010 draft, where he ended up being selected 46th overall by the Phoenix Suns. He’s a 6-foot-9 bruiser in the mold of Kenneth Faried but has had an incredibly rocky start to his pro career. This guy is a freak athlete who just hasn’t been able to show he’s a real basketball player yet. There’s some serious potential here and he probably belongs on an NBA roster. I think there’s a decent chance he would have been picked up off waivers had he not went overseas after being waived by the Suns last season.

Solomon Alabi, C, #50

Alabi is Masai Ujiri’s protégé, a young man Ujiri discovered in Zaria, Nigeria and mentored in his Basketball without Borders camp, eventually bringing Solomon to the USA to compete at the high school and collegiate level. Masai Ujiri was the assistant GM for the Raptors in 2010 when Toronto drafted Alabi with the 50th pick.

“Solo” has the most experience of anyone on this summer league team, although much of his two year tenure with Toronto was spent in the D-League. Masai really believes in this guy and that’s reason enough for me to get excited about seeing him suit up in Vegas. In my opinion, Alabi should be on an NBA roster due to his size alone – he’s a monstrous 7-foot-1 at a lean 250 pounds.

Holly MacKenzie wrote a great piece on Solo as he was gearing up for his rookie season in 2010, revealing a lot about his personality and his special bond with Masai

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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • eddiememphis

    Lets ride the Chu Chu to the finals!

  • SmokinNugs

    Getting excited for this! Hopefully Stone can prove he can handle it so we can trade Andre!

  • Jeremy

    One thing to keep in mind with Faried is he should be working on expanding his game so do not be surprised if he struggles a bit trying new moves in the post or working on a midrange jumper. Regardless, he should dominate the glass and will hopefully will show improvement in his post defense.

  • Cory Wansley

    Derwin Kitchen doesn’t have much offense much like stone but he has tenacious defensive skills.

  • El cabron Mexicano

    Jorge Gutierrez is ganna beast for us. He’s the next Eric snow

  • TJ McBride

    I really want to see Faried develop an entire different array of offensive and defensive moves. Not just post moves but a mid range jump shot and getting better position on the defensive glass. If he can develop a mid range jumper he can stretch the floor and also it will let him use his ability to finish at the rim because defenders will have to step out with him to challenge his jump-shot. If he gets better on the defensive glass, not just offensive, he will be even more of a double double machine then he already is. I understand everyone wants him to develop more post moves but he will have more room to execute post moves if players have to step out to the high post to defend his jump-shot. Looking forward to seeing how Faried’s game evolves this summer.

  • http://Bleacher/report Rob

    Jorge is a great player he is a faried type of player he hustles and try’s harder than anyone else he is also a good passer and can hit 3s he is also an excellent defender I hope him and Juylan stone flourish. Jorge is like a poormans rondo type

  • Aaron

    Damn Charlie, You Make Me Want All Those Guys On The Nuggets Roster Haha.

    Any1 Know Where I Can Watch These Games? I’d Rather Be Free But if I Cant Get Watch Them For Free ill Pay. Any Links?

    • Kalen

      If you have Altitude or NBA TV they’ll be showing all the games on those channels. If not, you can go to and buy the online streaming pass for $15.

      • Aaron

        Thx Kalen.

  • Kenneth

    Josh carter is a lights out shooter. Can’t do anything else really but has a great stroke

  • Kenneth

    I’m sure you received great pleasure in Andrew Nicholson dominating his first summer league game with Orlando.

    That is all

    • Kalen

      Yeah, you could say that. You could definitely say that. Just. One. More. Pick.

  • DH

    Well, I really hope Fournier lights it up because…

    “Perry Jones & Jared Sullinger looked like lottery talent 1st day of summer league” (Brian Windhorst, ESPN)

    I know it’s early and it’s summer league, and I know Fournier is a work in progress, but I hope he can at least show some of whatever it was that Masai saw in him that made him pass on PJ3, Sully, Moultrie, Teague, etc.

    • YoungPep Dash

      I hope so too.

      Although apparently at least one teams doctors believe perry jones knees will force him out of the league within four years, maybe that was Denver’s doctors…

      • Amel

        Doubt that. Our medical staff isn’t one of the league’s best ones, more likely it was the Suns’ docs from what I heard.

  • YoungPep Dash

    I hope that we amnesty Birdman in favour of Gani Lawal, Solomon alabi or chu chu.

    I’m assuming fournier comes over next year and we sign Quincy miller. That would give us a full roster

  • asdqqq

    So who’s going to start?
    I’m thinking Stone, Fournier, Hamilton, Faried, and Alabi.

    That means we’ll have Quincy Miller coming off the bench. But maybe Miller gets the nod, Hamilton slides to the 2, and Fournier comes off the bench. Either way, that’s a stacked summer league team.

    • Kalen

      Yeah that looks about right, although Chu Chu or Turky might get the nod at center considering they were drafted by the Nuggets. I would think the Nuggets own players would get looks first before free agent but Alabi definitely has the most NBA experience between them so you never know. Either way, if Miller and Gutierrez come off the bench that’s gonna be a really nice one-two punch.

      • asdqqq

        I’ve seen a couple places where Turkey is actually being projected as a really tall small forward, not a center. Maybe sorta like Jared Jeffries. Has anyone seen anything about how the Nuggets envision him developing?

    • Cory

      Hamilton is DEFITNITELY starting

      • Jeremy

        I would not be surprised if Hamilton came off the bench as that is the role he will be filling for the team next season. Any one of the group of Chu Chu, Izzet, Fournier or Miller could help fill out the starting five in place of Hamilton.

        I would also not be surprised if the Nuggets trotted out a different starting five for every game.

  • Trevor

    Where can I find the schedule for these games and will they be televised?

  • Mark from Charlotte


  • Call Me Miss Kim

    Alabi is just as capable as mozgov and KK. With more upside

    This summer league team is more exciting than our real team because there is no George Karl to bench the youngsters. If he was coaching he would probably sub himself into the game just so one of the rooks has to ride the pine. That’s how he gets his kicks. Sadistic bastard.

    • Landry

      Lolz!! Lolz!! Lolz!!

    • dynamo.joe

      I just looked up his stats from last year. He didnt play much but when he did he was a rebounding and shot blocking machine. Cant shoot a lick, which is weird, cuz his FT% is near 90.

  • chugfish

    Wanted us to take a chance a Lawal when he came out. Hopefully he can get it together. Definitely has the tools to be a great 8/9 guy to provide real solid defense and rebounding.

  • Andrew

    This is probably the most intriguing Summer League team The Nuggs have ever fielded. I agree with Aaron’s comment above saying that Charlie’s write up makes you want them all on the roster. Ha ha.

    Stoked that the games are on Altitude, but why are other teams already playing Summer League games and the Nuggets don’t start until the 14th? Just wondering.

    • Kalen

      Teams playing now are in the Orlando Summer League; teams that start playing on the 14th are in the Vegas Summer League. Vegas is much bigger. Charlie will be attending with credentials and doing analysis. Should be great.

  • Andrew

    Hey, I just read that Carlos Boozer might be amnestied. Is that true? I know Chicago was unhappy with him, and he sort of shrank a bit in the playoffs, but he still had three double doubles against Philly and he is a legit 15/8 guy. Nuggets could sure use his post scoring. Any chance they will go after him? What would it take?

    • Kalen

      Highly doubt it. There’s no roster room. Other teams will likely offer him something the Nuggets have no business trying to compete with.