2012 Summer League Game 1: Denver Nuggets 74 Golden State Warriors 95

Summer league is all about experimentation. In a setting where wins and losses aren’t exactly of the utmost importance, coaches are using the opportunity to throw a bunch of darts at the wall in order to see what sticks.  While the results are a mixed bag that typically don’t lead you to any concrete conclusions, they’re often more interesting than the final score of the actual games.

That’s the way I feel about the Nuggets summer league opener against Golden State, which ended up turning into a blowout loss. While it certainly wasn’t fun seeing the Nuggets get throttled in a game they badly wanted to win, the entire team competed and there was plenty of individual growth that will help this Nuggets team evaluate how to get the most out of the summer league experience going forward.

The game was actually much closer than the final score would lead you to believe. Both teams played a high level in the first half, showcasing an exciting matchup between two fluid, high-powered offenses. Golden State really pulled away in the second half, where Denver’s offense followed their shoddy defense into a state of utter confusion and disarray.

That being said, there was a lot of personal growth and potential on display. Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller and Izzet Turkyilmaz all had extremely solid, if not spectacular NBA debuts. Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth Faried showed that despite a year of NBA experience, they are going through the same ups and downs of their first summer league experience as well.

Two things stood out to me about why Denver lost this game. First, they lack confident ballhandlers and most of all, a true point guard to initiate the offense. Denver tried to get out and run all they could, but lackluster passing in transition led to almost no fast break opportunites at the rim, which is perhaps the one thing that defines Denver Nuggets basketball. Secondly, the Nuggets couldn’t create any offense out of the post. Any and all attempts at establishing post position were thwarted by a complete inability to catch a pass in the painted area.

While the Nuggets kept moving the ball and finding quality shots in the first half, everything was either rushed or forced in the second. After the initial pick and roll action was stuffed, Denver wasn’t attacking with the same sort on confidence and it resulted in a slopfest of turnovers and low quality shots.

The biggest problem however was Denver’s defense. After committing just nine fouls while holding the Warriors to 39% shooting the first half, the Nuggets committed 8 in the third quarter alone. It was all downhill from there as Denver was outscored by 9 in the third period and 15 in the fourth.

After the game, I asked Quincy Miller if the Warriors did anything different to get themselves going in the second half, to which he solemnly replied “it was all us. We just didn’t get back in transition like we should.”

The key takeaway is that no one was particularly bad, at least not to a point that merits a significant level of concern. Overall I thought Chad Iske did a great job getting the players accustomed to Nuggets basketball and producing an outing solid enough for fans to feel confident about the player development still to come.

Here’s a little bit of individual player analysis followed by some interesting news and notes from around the gym

Starters

    Derwin Kitchen is the only Nuggets guard fast enough with the ball to get the offense going. Chad Iske gave him the start and Kitchen responded with an efficient outing. He doesn’t really create anything off the dribble but Kitchen has solid form on his jumper and makes good use of his length and quickness to find openings. Unfortunately, he’s not much of a passer and didn’t do a whole lot to get the Nuggets going in pick and rolls.
    Kenneth Faried really struggled with his shot. As Jeremy predicted last week, he’s working on improving his ballhandling and a drop-step move in the post. I found it really odd that the Nuggets were running so much offense through Faried yet he never attempted a single jumper. There was a lot of overdribbling from Faried, who said his back tightened up considerably towards the end of the game. Despite the less than efficient outing, Faried managed to make an impact and looked more like a legit NBA big man than anyone else on the floor.
    There’s much more coming on Evan Fournier shortly, but he was overall very solid in his first NBA action. I thought Fournier needed to be a little more aggressive attacking the rim out of pick and rolls, but he moves well without the ball and has fantastic court vision. Fournier’s really a team player and plays the game in a very confident manner. At times I think we struggled with the amount of physical contact that was being allowed. Stay tuned for a lot more on Fournier coming soon
    Jordan Hamilton had a great first half and missed all 8 of his shots in the second. He was extremely aggressive and constantly attacking, but had some trouble controlling his dribble. The important thing is Jordan was very aggressive and played solid defense on the likes of Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. He looks quicker and more explosive than he was last season. Hamilton needs to improve his shot selection quite a bit, but as Melvin Hunt told me after the game, the Nuggets have a lot of confidence in Hamilton and they  don’t mind him trying to create his own shot.
    Solo Alabi played 8 minutes and never attempted a shot. He did do a fantastic job on the boards and played solid interior defense without fouling. I expect Alabi to play more as Chad Iske continues to experiment with his lineups as I think he knows what Alabi is going to provide.

Bench

  • Gani Lawal was the first big off the bench and was the only player who it’s hard to say anything positive about. He fumbled a lot of passes, fouled a lot and was frequently caught way out of position on defense. He does have very solid NBA athleticism and I don’t expect another game this bad, but he couldn’t stay on the floor and didn’t give the Nuggets any sort of inside presence at all.
  • Josh Carter has great form on his jumper. He’s a fantastic three point specialist with a quick release. As a ballhandler he was quite bad however, totaling four turnovers in just 11 minutes of playing time.
  • Quincy Miller got the rookie treatment from the rest of the team. The ball wasn’t finding him in the first half but he did a solid job crashing the boards and creating extra possessions. Miller often found himself mismatched on defense against bigger and quicker players but did a solid job contesting shots and helping where no other Nuggets would. I wish the Nuggets would put the ball in Quincy’s hands a little more because he’s got a versatile skillset and played a smooth, very composed game.
  • Izzet Turkyilmaz was the surprise of the game for me. This guy should be playing regular minutes throughout summer league as he’s a very good passer and always looking to work off his teammates in any way possible. He has a great feel for the game and despite having a serious weight issue and some jittery hands early, this guy has a ton of skill and displayed remarkable toughness for a player of his stature. He does not back down from physical play and I’m extremely excited to see more of this kid over the next week. Izzet made an amazing pass on the break before getting absolutely hammered at the rim which was one of the most memorable plays of the game.
  • Demonte Harper played less than 4 minutes in the first half and didn’t see the floor again. Granted, he didn’t look great but a measley four minutes isn’t enough to make any sort of observation about whether or not the guy can play.
  • Jorge Gutierrez didn’t see any minutes until the fourth quarter, which was more or less garbage time with the way things were going. He’s quite small in stature and doesn’t possess extraordinary strength or quickness, so his path to the next level is going to be a difficult one. Jorge played extremely hard and bullied his way to the rim a few times but overall it was extremely tough to judge what kind of player he is based on the limited action we saw tonight

Additional Notes

    Julyan Stone is not with the team and is described as having a left hip injury. I couldn’t get any further information on his status. If Julyan isn’t available for Summer League and is in danger of missing training camp, he could be in serious danger of being waived. I have nothing concrete on this issue right now and will try to figure out exactly what’s going on soon.
    Chu Chu Maduabum was the only player who didn’t see the floor. I talked to him after the game and he said issues with his Visa prevented him from playing in the D-League last year. When asked if he’s talked with Masai about his future with the team or a training camp invite, Chu said he hasn’t discussed anything yet. If he’s not offered a contract this season, Chu told me he’ll probably go play overseas. When asked what position he sees himself playing in the NBA, he said “definitely the four” and definitely looks like he’s improved his upper body strength a great deal. I’d really love to see Chu play more as he’s an extremely physical specimen but it’s clear his future with the team looks shaky at best.
    Anthony Randolph was in the stands with Masai Ujiri. The Nuggets have obviously shown overt interest in him which should please my colleague Jeremy Wagner greatly.
    I talked to Wilson Chandler at halftime, who told me his rehab is on schedule and he’s just started jogging. He’s in Denver “full-time” this summer and told me he’s really focused on rehab.
    Assistant Coach Melvin Hunt told me Gallo’s been hard at work preparing for next season and the Italian National Team. He said Gallo’s been focused on transforming his body and getting stronger with the help of Steve Hess.

 

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Charlie Yao

Contributor at Roundball Mining Company since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.

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  • JetLife82

    Turkyilmaz was a nice surprise. He looks like a wuss with that haircut though, and would do well to get a style cut at some point.

  • Klules

    Great stuff Charlie!

    It’s good to start seeing the basketball happening again. Like many, I’m very curious about Manimal’s progress this summer and seeing what he has/will develop for the upcoming season.

    Very interested in Julyan’s status as well.

  • Poz_303

    Watched the game and thought JHam had a great first half but did force some shots in the second, then again, not much offense in the second so he had to try to do something.

    Seemed like Nuggets lacked a point guard and the warriors seemed more aggressive on D.

    Izzy was a surprise, at first his hands were letting him down but once he settled a bit he showed some pretty good court vision and play making skills for a big. I think some of the passes he made that led to turnovers were actually nice passes but the players who he was passing to just didnt read the play. He was looking to get players to attack the rim while they would stop and look for a jumper.

    Fournier played well and seemed to look for his team mates.

    It seemed we lacked post play again and none of the bigs really we able to establish anything in the post.

    Faried was his usual self and showed glimpses of why he was a first team rookie. I didnt mind seeing him try to attack the rim, its all a good experience for him. We all know what he can do so I am all for him trying to drive to the basket in SL.

    Kitchen looked efficient in the first half but we really missed Stone.

  • Andrew

    Thanks for the great report and info, Charlie. Seriously cool. Based on my couch-side seat (heh heh), I agree with all of your observations. I am especially disappointed about Stone. The Nuggets really needed him (or someone) to handle the rock. As you pointed out, the other PGs were sorely lacking tonight and it is hard to imagine we’ll see play get much better this week unless Stone makes it back.

  • Izzet “The Turkish Hope” Turkilymaz

    YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST:

    Izzet will play for us within 3 years, he is a unique talent. He really impressed me.

    • ryanvdonk

      definitely needs to fill out, i like the tough attitude but he will be pushed around too much at his current stature.

    • Peter

      It’s interesting, for years European players have been labeled as soft and I think word finally got back to Europe. So now everytime someone comes over I think the Euro’s all play with a chip on thier shoulder and they are toughening up the game over there to give their guys a better chance to succeed once they do come over.

  • Kalen

    Great stuff Charlie.

    The Anthony Randolph scenario is really intriguing… and really scary. He’s an unrestricted free agent. Denver’s roster is already full WITHOUT Quincy Miller. Are the Nuggets really going to move two guys to make room for him? Even if they do, wouldn’t they then have to overpay him? Do the Nuggets have that type of money? All that said, I’m with Jeremy in that I’ve always liked the kid. His adjusted numbers have always been great. Having Randolph as a backup to McGee or Faried makes my mouth water… then again, he’s had his fair share of trouble in terms of development over his career. It’s fair to question whether he’ll ever turn into anything but a tantalizing prospect that doesn’t deliver consistently.

    As for Summer League…

    I totally agree with Charlie. Missing Stone was huge. I was pretty disappointed as he’s always been one of “my guys.” I heard he had surgery. Like Charlie said, if it’s serious he could very well be jettisoned.

    Hamilton — Yeah he took bad shots, but that’s OK. This is Summer League. That’s what people do. I liked his aggressiveness most of all. If he keeps jacking up bad shots over and over, then we’ll have a problem.

    Fournier — I’m already regretting even questioning Ujiri. Dude looked great for his first NBA-esque game at only 19. He showed excellent court awareness and his first step/speed is monster for a 6-6 guy. Can’t wait to see him again.

    Turky — I think I watched a different game than everyone else. It MUST be noted that he was flat out atrocious for the first 3.5 quarters of the game. Sure, he showed a nice skill set… for five minutes. But what about his inexplicable turnovers and fouls? There were countless occasions where I couldn’t even believe how terrible he looked. And what about all the weird things he was doing like calling out plays at the top of the key, dribbling straight into a double team and even slapping the refs on the ass? I spent more time laughing at him than I did admiring his skills. All that said, I can’t want to see what he does in Game 2, haha.

    Miller — BE MORE AGGRESSIVE!!!

    • Evan Woodruff

      Lol. Turky.

      Yeah he’s not stupid. He knows that no matter what happens he isn’t playing in the NBA this year. He’s just trying to have fun. I mean come on.. do you blame him? Besides, he’s got confidence -and that’s saying a lot. He’s defiantly got game. He’ll be in the NBA someday.

    • Young Pep Dash

      I like Randolph as well however I remember someone (a well known reporter who I ironically can’t remember his name) saying they watched him warm up pre-game and instantly realised why he hasn’t reached his potential.

      This guy screams red flags but another guy who might benefit from playing in a stronger culture like Denver

      I also find myself saying this so much lately but basically anyone who is big, fast and athletic fits really well into the hectic nuggets pace – Randolph fits this mold

      He also has some decent range on his jumper and impressive ball handling for a guy his size similar to Perry Jones who many fans including myself were clamouring for

    • KW

      Can we agree now that his nick should be Turkylmfao?

  • Tommy

    Yer, they need a facilitater. You know your in trouble when faried is dribbling most of the time. Did you see the ally opp he blocked! They need to get miller more involved, he does move well though. Fournier looks to be a good passer and a decent defender, just needs to work on his shot. If you take out turkeys first half there is some good potential there! Also I wouldn’t be worried about j ham, he really did get frustrated because he had to create so much. Please stone be back soon!

  • dynamo.joe

    Sucks, I hadn’t heard about Stone. He is the one I really wanted to see in summer league.

    I wonder if his injury had anything to do with re-signing ‘Dre?

  • mitchcox21

    nate timmons at denver stiffs made a post on the game and said he spoke to Kroenke and he had this to say in his write up.

    ‘I asked Kroenke what Randolph was doing sitting with them and he told me, just a lot of people here.’

    so i wouldnt read into that situation too much, if at all.
    however i would love to see randolph on our team. ive always loved his game. when he got to start a few games last season or the season before for minny when love was out, he played really well. when he got to see the court he had some 20 point games and double doubles.

    • Kalen

      Of course he said that. As a front office type you can’t just reveal your entire gameplan to anyone that asks. It’s been reported that the Nuggets do have interest in Randolph along with the Hawks. He seems like an Ujiri guy if you ask me. If they really are serious about going after him they were probably trying to gauge what type of person he is first.

  • Trevor

    I liked Fournier and Turkilymaz overall feel for the game they looked pretty comfortable out there. I would have liked to see Quincy Miller get the ball a little more. But one fact is true about all three Nuggets draft picks this year, they all need to put on some weight to be effective and even make it in the NBA.

  • Young Pep Dash

    It was interesting to hear GK talk during the game.

    If you missed it, he basically said:
    -Evan I’m glad you’re coming over but good luck getting off the bench (because he hates rookies)
    – Expect Faried to get more minutes and offensive touches (because he’s no longer a rookie thus he no longer hates him)
    – He likes Javale and thinks he needs to be unleashed and given playing time to blossom
    – He’s not involved in the draft at all (because he hates rookies)
    – He doesnt seem to really like the summer league (cause he hates rookies)

    Plus I feel like hes developing this almost father son relationship with Hamilton for better or for worse. (As in he believes in him but is also his harshest critic)

    BTW – I admit I am extremely scared/jealous of the GSW wings – Barnes and Thompson… they are going to be really good and along with Curry they probably wont miss a three

  • Woobly o Balls

    I think Evan also has the ball handling and passing to be a defacto PG in the future for small stretches similar to Fernandez or jr smith could

  • steve

    My guess is they are looking at Randolph just in case Mcgee decides to sign an offer sheet for something crazy. I guess you always need a backup plan. AR has alot of ability. I’m a huge fantasy fan and watch a ton of bball every year. He is similar to Mcgee in alot of ways. Just needs to mature and stay focused. I’d LOVE to sign him and be a backup to Mcgee. Honestly, trade Mozgov for a 2nd rd pick to make room for him. AR has alot more upside and i think this coaching staff can make a difference with him just like they already have in Mcgee.

    I do have a question though…let’s say we send Fournier or Q.Miller down to Dleague for the entire year. DO they still take up a roster spot? I would assume yes since they are signed but i’m not 100% sure. I’d love to sign Q.Miller to a 3 yr deal with team options and send him down to dleague for the year or until someone gets injured.

    • Charlie

      They still take up the roster spot, so neither is likely to see the D-League the whole year. I think both Fournier and Miller would alternate being with the team and playing a few stints in the D-League next season. It’s really too early to speculate since SL just got started and training camp is still a long ways away.

    • Kalen

      Once you’re signed you take up a spot on the roster. Miller still isn’t and if the Nuggets want him on the team they’ll need to get rid of somebody.

      • steve

        Thanks for the reply guys. It makes sense i was just making sure.

  • Woobly o Balls

    When Kenneth did back to back blocks, Fournier had a little smile on his face which basically said “I ain’t never seen that in France “

  • DH

    If you’ve watched a lot of summer league, you know that almost every team looks terrible in the first game, then they look much better after that. So it’s hard to evaluate too much right now, but…

    Izzy! My expectations for him were nonexistent. I thought he would be a slow, skinny center who would never come near a real NBA game (or a guy who was at least several years away from having any chance). Let’s just say that he showed enough to indicate that he has real potential (sorry Kalen). Yes, he played like he has nothing to lose – he’s definitely going back to Europe – so he was loose and crazy at times. But I don’t care about that (if McGee can take the crazy out of his game, anyone can – and Izzy is very young). He runs the floor well, he works on defense and on the glass, he’s tougher than I thought, I can see him developing some ball skills for a big guy, I think he’ll be a good mid-range shooter, and he had the pass of the night. He needs time and a lot more strength. I see him as a “4” in the early Dirk mold – obviously not as good, but with a similar game. I don’t see him as a center. I wonder how the Nuggets project him.

    The news on Stone breaks my heart. I hope it doesn’t cost him his roster spot. Plus, this summer league team really needs him.

    I love Faried as much as anyone, but he looked like a rookie – way too many mistakes and turnovers. I chalk it up to being the first SL game. I remain concerned that bigger PF’s can push him around some, and sometimes even rebound over the top of him. Of course, he also showed flashes of what makes him the Manimal.

    JHam showed why he should see more playing time this year in the first half. Then he showed why he didn’t get much PT last year in the second half. I need to see more of him to get a read on what he really is.

    Fournier looked like a less polished Rudy to me. Since Rudy was destined for an end-of-the-bench role, I still don’t get that pick, and especially the decision to sign him now. Of course, it’s early. We’ll see.

    Quincy gets an incomplete. He didn’t get a chance to do much.

    Nobody else showed anything worth mentioning. And everyone’s issues were compounded by the fact that we don’t have a decent PG. I’m looking forward to the next game, where I think we’ll see better basketball.

  • TB

    I Liked that Fournier learned to closeout Klay Thompson harder (after 3 straight 3’s) and tried to get through screens. I don’t think Klay did much after that initial burst. Evan missed some open 3’s but so do most people. He also forced a few turnovers with his active hands, but he has to be careful because some refs would call him for reaching. But overall, Evan seemed to be fairly calm on the court. He didn’t try to do too much with the ball, and looked like he belonged.

    Quincy showed flashes of skill with the ball but I was more pleased with how he crashed the glass on both ends. He could develop into something decent with his length and ball handling.

    Izzy made the cardinal sin for a big man of getting a defensive board and trying to dribble up court instead of looking for an outlet pass to a guard. That led to a turnover and easy bucket.

    One thing I noticed is that he seems to play below the rim. At one point he got good position in the post, gave a nice pump fake, got his defender off his feet, had an open lane the rim and laid it in. Granted it was still a nice move, but I have bad memories of Nene having his layup blocked when he could have dunked it. 7 footers need to dunk the easy ones.

    That being said, his midrange jumper looked good and even his missed three didn’t look bad (only a 3 shot sample size). But people are going to push him around inside and a 7 footer shouldn’t live on jumpers.

    Jham was aggressive but he would get caught leaving his feet with nowhere to go. Some of that can be chalked up to bad floor spacing, but he has to take some responsibility. But when he’s open and in rhythm, he’s got a real nice jumper, even from deep.

    I am trying to keep my expectations low for these nuggs since it’s summer league and even Tskitishvili looked good sometimes in the summer.

    This was my first time getting to see any of these guys play and my first time at summer league. It was a blast! I highly recommend it. If you go, bring stuff for autographs because there was plenty of opportunity.

  • sueperfan

    I guess you had to be there(I was…4 rows up) to see that Faried was in a bad way….my view was that Iske made him play almost the entire game more or less as punishment shall we say for perhaps a late night? I’ll bet he has a much better game today, although the back to back to back blocks late in the game had the entire crowd oohing and aahing in amazement

  • eddiememphis

    The blone ref was cute.

  • Poz_303

    I should add something in JHam’s defense of his showing frustration. At least he was running back on D when he showed his frustration. FOr guys trying to earn an NBA roster spot, why was it the guy with the contract that was hustling his @ss off to get back and show an attempt to stop the break?

    So, at least he wasnt standing and watching and waving his arms. In that sense he has a right to get a little animated towards his team mates.

    As for Randolph, I see him as a big body PF rather than insurance for McGee. Let Bird walk, and if Stone’s hip surgery is going to be a long term rehabilitation then there is a chance he wont be on the initial roster giving the Nuggets two roster spots. Enter Q.Miller and A. Randolph.

    BTW, Big Al having another surgery on his knee today. Ugh.