2012 Summer League Game 2: Denver Nuggets 77 Dallas Mavericks 88

I honestly didn’t know it was possible for a team to record just one fast break point in an entire game.

You learn something new every day. The summer league is a pretty loose interpretation of NBA basketball, but these are still real Nuggets coaches, real Nuggets players and (some) real NBA caliber talent competing in a professional setting.

The Nuggets’ performance on Sunday was offensive for all the wrong reasons. They shot 31.1% against the Mavs, recorded just 11 assists against 17 turnovers, and somehow managed the aforementioned one fast break point. Baskets are still worth two points in the summer league, but apparently the Nuggets didn’t manage to attempt a single shot on the fast break in 40 minutes of action.

Yeah, it was bad. Nevertheless there were some bright spots if you were able to stomach watching enough of the game to spot them. Evan Fournier showed good progress and was much more aggressive going to the rim, finishing with 15 points while looking like the second best player on the floor behind Dominique Jones, first round pick of the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.

That’s about all I got. Onto the ugly stuff, of which there’s a lot, and some individual player analysis followed by news and notes from around the gym.

Starters

  • Derwin Kitchen started at point guard again and played alright, but he continues to show why he’s not as much a real point guard as he is the least-bad option at the position. Kitchen did have 5 of the team’s 11 total assists, but also recorded four turnovers and as I mentioned before, couldn’t get the Nuggets a single shot opportunity in the open court. Kitchen isn’t a bad player by any means, but I don’t see a future for him in Denver and the lack of competent point guard play is making it nearly impossible for Denver’s offense to function.
  • Jordan Hamilton was looking to get others involved and not nearly as aggressive in terms of creating for himself. I get the feeling Hamilton is being used by the coaches as more of a playmaker and trying to prove he can fill that role. Hamilton displayed some much improved passing skills but still went out of control on a few of his drives and couldn’t provide the consistent scoring threat Denver needed to keep things close. Jordan has not played well and still scored 18 points for the second straight game. If he ever really gets rolling, he’s going to explode in one of these games.
  • Josh Carter got off to a hot start and showed he’s a more versatile scorer than previously thought. Carter scored in a variety of ways, showing off his silky smooth jumper while also having more success putting the ball on the floor and driving. I don’t like Carter as a primary offensive option and ballhandler but he certainly put up a strong performance showing he has the tools to possibly play in the NBA.
  • Evan Fournier started at the other forward and was by far the brightest spot of the game. He is still very inconsistent with his shooting but finally got more aggressive attacking the basket and finishing at the rim in traffic. I talked to Melvin Hunt and got the sense they really like him coming off screens and looking to get to the rim. Unfortunately he’s being forced to create offense on this particular team and Denver’s haphazard play isn’t leading to many quality shot opportunities for Fournier or anyone else. I still think he needs to shoot the ball a little bit better, but Fournier already looks like perhaps the most solid pro on the team.
  • Chu Chu started at Center. In his first NBA action ever, Maduabum was reacting to everything and was often a step slow on where he needed to be. Chu has really improved his body and he played under control for most of the game, displaying solid fundamentals against the bigger, stronger David Harrison in the post. I would like to see Chu rebound the ball a better and provide more of a defensive presence down low, but it’s hard to say anything bad about Chu in his first NBA experience ever. He’s still trying to learn how to fit in.

Bench

  • Gani Lawal finally did a few good things and tied Jordan Hamilton with a team-high 7 rebounds. He still shot just 3-for-9 and made a couple of truly headscratching mistakes, such as failing to properly inbound the ball off a made basket. Defensively Gani finally made himself useful, taking a charge and providing much better help than he did in game one.
  • Quincy Miller started off great, grabbing a couple of early offensive boards while showing he’s not afraid to mix it up in the paint. Unfortunately his offense took a step back and Quincy continues to struggle in terms of finding a role he can succeed in off the bench. I believe Miller needs the ball more often to be effective and I’m hoping Chad Iske gives him a start before the week is over with.
  • Demonte Harper once again played a few first half minutes and didn’t provide much of a glimpse into his game. I loved the fact he got to the line four times in only 9 minutes, but he was only able to make one.
  • Izzet Turkyilmaz was a major disappointment and didn’t really do anything after showing promising skills on both sides of the court in game one. Defensively the Nuggets were very poor with Turkyilmaz in the game and he continues to make extremely odd decision on the offensive end.
  • Jorge Guttierez isn’t giving the Nuggets any reason to keep putting him in these games. He had five turnovers in 12 minutes and zero assists. His lack of size, speed, length and athleticism is a major issue as Jorge just isn’t able to get to his spots and have an impact on the floor. The turnovers completely negate any positive contribution he might be able to make on defense, which is where Jorge is best.

Additional Notes

  • Kenneth Faried wasn’t dressed and sat out the game. He’s dealing with back issues and it’s not totally clear whether the Nuggets will risk playing him the rest of the week or give him more time to heal up.
  • Solomon Alabi told me he sprained his foot in the first game and wasn’t able to go through practices. When asked if he would be out for the rest of the week, Alabi said he’s going to take it day by day and see how he feels.
  • JaVale McGee and Ty Lawson sat courtside and apparently joined Arron Afflalo with some of the summer league practices going on earlier in the day.
  • This game really wasn’t good and showcased a lot of the flaws on Denver’s roster relative to the rest of the league. The Nuggets only brought 13 players while other teams are bringing much more and the lack of options at the Point Guard and Center positions are forcing the Nuggets to put some truly bizarre lineups on the court. I was talking to Nate Timmons on media row about how hard its been for the Nuggets to play their style and he pointed out how Denver probably didn’t record a single dunk the entire game.
  • Coach Chad Iske stayed in the makeshift “locker room” longer than usual and again didn’t make himself available to the media. I don’t think the coaches are stressing too much about wins and losses in summer league but I do think Iske is less than pleased with the overall performance and lack of adjustment he’s seeing out of his guys.

I talked to Nuggets assistant coach Ryan Bowen after the game, who told me he loves being on George Karl’s staff and has spent a lot of time developing Timo and Kosta on an individual basis. Bowen is a well spoken guy who still loves to compete and goes hard against the Nuggets players in drills and practices. Here’s what he had to say:

On the development process of Mozgov and Koufos last season:

“It’s fun to go against them because they’re both so competitive. They both want to play obviously, yet they both have each other’s backs. It’s interesting competition between them on a daily basis because they want to outdo each other, but also want what’s best for the team. They’re both really quirky in their own ways but they love to get after it as well.”

On what the coaches are looking for from Mozgov next season:

“I think just grow. He was playing really well last season and then he rolled his ankle. He was doing such a great job protecting the basket, coming over and helping from the weak side. You know his offense is going to come. The way we play, we run the floor and he runs the floor as well as any big out there. He’s got amazing touch and he wants to shoot outside shots which is great because he can space the floor, and I really think you’re going to see that more and develop in his game in the upcoming years. Just his length, size and being able to bang with big guys while having a nice touch around the basket – we call him “Nash” because he thinks he’s Steve Nash out there when he’s handling the ball.”

More player-notes by Kalen

Fournier: As I stated in Charlie’s last recap, I already know I’m going to regret even questioning Ujiri for this pick. If he keeps this pace up, I’ll be punching myself in the face by the end of Summer League… Fournier has looked fantastic thus far. Remember, he’s still only 19. This is his first real introduction into a scenario with guys who have the talent to be mainstays in the NBA. Add that to the fact Summer League has some pretty bizarre rules (10 fouls? Really?) and is teeming with Carmelo Anthony wannabees and it’s easy to see how a foreigner (or a Fournier!) could have a hard time adjusting… But that’s hardly been the case. Fournier’s confidence is growing, steadily. He’s without question the most versatile player on Denver’s Summer League roster. His court vision is phenomenal. I know it sounds bold, but I’d put his passing skills right up there with Lawson and Gallinari already. He just sees the floor that way. He’s always looking to attack — usually through penetration — but once he breaks past the initial layer of defense, he shows great poise in reading the next wave of defenders and either distributing or finishing in traffic… I’m not sure who did it first, but whoever compared him to James Harden hit the head of the nail. Fournier lacks the elite outside shooting and athleticism, but otherwise, he resembles Harden in more ways than one. I cannot say enough about Fournier through two games. I’ve watched a lot of Summer League ball and outside of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb and Damian Lillard, I haven’t seen anybody who I could say looked definitively better than Fournier.

Hamilton: Again, he was looking for his shot. You can’t knock him for that. This is Summer League; it’s the one place and time coaches encourage aggressiveness, even to a fault. He made some really nice shots, which were encouraging, and did well on the boards once again. That said, it’s difficult from a spectators point of view to overlook all the ill-advised shot attempts. This might make fans cringe, but Hamilton reminds me a lot of J.R. Smith in this sense. He can really stroke it but his internal “shot limit meter” just doesn’t appear to be working properly all the time. It was especially bad when juxtaposed alongside Fournier and Miller who aren’t overshooting at all (Miller is the exact opposite). I agree with the readers who have mentioned his “demonstrative” behavior being somewhat concerning. He did this a few times in his short D-League stint and while it’s nothing to lose sleep over, it’s also nothing to raise a toast to either… Overall, I can’t complain about Hamilton. He’s averaging 18 points per game, rebounding at a high level, looking for his shot and perhaps exercising any of his demons now before the season starts. If he can score more efficiently he’ll be well on the way to having a great Summer League outing.

Miller: He’s not scoring nor shooting the ball well, but I love everything else I’m seeing from Miller. He has clearly undertaken the philosophy that he’s a rookie who isn’t going to see the floor for a while, so why not go in and do all the little things right that coaches love. He’s rebounding, hustling, looking to make the right/extra pass, being unselfish, cheering his teammates on, clapping after a good defensive play — all great signs from such a young player. Miller really is displaying his maturity across the board… However, he does need to be more aggressive. Just a few more “big plays” per half would be ideal. These don’t even have to be shots (in fact, it would be better if they weren’t), they just need to be situations where he has the ball in his hands and does something to create offense and put his team in a position to score. If Miller could do this, his Summer League could go from solid to extraordinary depending on what he does with these extra possessions.

Maduabum: Unfortunately Chu Chu was more toy than high-powered locomotive. He looked so, so raw out there. He was enthusiastic and hustled after lose balls, but more often than not he was caught looking like a deer in the headlights rather than someone who truly understood his place on the floor. It will be interesting to see how he plays in the upcoming games. He really needs to focus on defense, rebounding, setting firm picks and being in the right position to make an impact. Nobody’s asking him to Dream Shake his opponent out of his pants, but a few defensive stops would be nice.

Turky: Definitely came back down to Earth (did he ever leave?) after his first outing. He has a nice shooting stroke and really soft hands; he also seems to understand how to play the game and has fun doing it; but his wiry frame is really preventing him from making the type of impact he may be capable of. If he could add 30-40 more pounds — which is kind of hard to ever see happening to be honest — then the Nuggets might have something. Right now he’s a tweener in serious need of a hamburger and a haircut.

Others: Carter has a shooter’s stroke if I’ve ever seen one. The guy can flat out make it splash. He also showed other areas of his game which looked decent. Not a bad player at all. If the Nuggets had more roster spots available I could definitely see him getting a look… I totally agree with Charlie about Gutierrez. The guy looks way in over his head. He doesn’t have the athleticism or skill to hang with, well, the Dominique Jones of the world — which isn’t a good sign. He is playing out of position though. He shouldn’t be trying to ignite the fastest offense in the league. That’s just not what he does… Kitchen has some talent. He can do pretty much everything well, just not that well. I feel like he’s missing that last drop of elite something or other that would carve him out a 10-year career in the NBA. Scoring? Athleticism? Ball-handling skills? Not sure.

The following two tabs change content below.

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.

Latest posts by Charlie Yao (see all)

  • Poz_303

    While I am pleased with how Fournier is playing I am disappointed in the PG play from the Nuggets. We seem to only have one decent option there, Kitchen, but decent is the best way I can describe his PG play.

    Hammilton’s visible frustration during the game was a little disturbing, While I can understand the way he feels it still felt a little immature.

    On the plus side, I do like how he is grabbing rebounds and stroking threes. Also made some good passes.

    Very glad to see Chu Chu play. hope we get to see more of him and hopefully see him matched up better.

    I just dont understand why the Nuggets came with 13 players. Well, I know Stone was supposed to be our #1 PG but still, no late replacement?

  • Poz_303

    Oh, by the way, nice report on Mozzie. Always great to hear what coaches etc are working on with players and how they view them. I like the Nash reference, sounds like the team likes to make a few light hearted jokes.

  • RyanAM

    I’m actually a little impressed by Izzet Turkyilmaz. I don’t think he has ever been the first option, with a bit of a killer instinct I think he would flourish. Someone needs to get him to believe

  • Young Pep Dash

    - Guttierrez is so out of his depth and as everyone has identified we are getting nothing but turnovers and dribble hand offs from the PG position
    – Chu Chu looks like he has a ridiculous wingspan
    – Quincy Miller didn’t even get to touch the ball for like at least 5-6 offensive possessions in a row. He needs more touches
    – Fournier looks promising, needs more strength and along with that finish more aggressively at the hoop

    • JetLife82

      Gutierrez looks like Betty White out there

  • blackhill

    Good reporting! Loved the Bowen interview.

  • colby

    Can the Nuggets bring anyone in for the last 3 games that can play point? Maybe bring in a true point and a true center if they can still bring people in.

  • Gordon

    Great breakdown. I just disagree with the Izzy part a bit – I don’t think he’s used to being put in some of the positions and situations we’re asking him to be put in and he’s showing a bit of second-guessing/weird shot choices, but he’s running the floor well and giving good effort, and he’s not afraid to do anything. Just gotta teach him where to be on defense so he’s not always relying on length.

    I think he’s showing better than Q, who will hang out for boards but doesn’t seem to have any clue where he should be on offense and isn’t able to sink his shot. Miller jogging up court like he’s 270 instead of 210 is also bugging me a bit, but I did love watching him shove a 7-foot tall ball-o-muscle into the pads while fighting for a position and a rebound. He’s a fighter – hope he makes the team.

    Fournier looks like a player, and like his shot is about 2 degrees from being dagger-like. When his body gets better and they perfect his outside J he’s gonna be nasty with that penetration, good body control and ability to pass.

    If we’re looking at him for some time at AAA’s position… it seems like he’s got more game than Afflalo had coming out of college, let alone at 19. If hustle is a skill then swagger is too, and Evan has it. I’m starting to get why the Nuggs picked him.

    Fire the latest Pac-12 player of the year and DPOY though, wouldja? Guti’s embarrassing the conference, and us.

    And I agree that Hamilton was a bit, um, demonstrative in ways I don’t want to see as a Nugget. I don’t want to see him handling the ball too much either – his dribble’s not his strength. Shooting looks good, and the boards are great too. Leave the dribble to someone else.

    ~G

    • Bryan

      I think Q. Miller is suffering from the deficiency at pg. It seems like the only time he gets to touch the ball is when he gets a rebound.

      I also think that’s why Hamilton was so dribble heavy. And actually I think he and Fournier got their teammates some of the best looks. Since, as you pointed out, Guituirez was so horrible, I actually wouldn’t mind Fournier getting some time at pg.

      Cool story about Mozgov. Can’t wait to see him start setting up guys on the break with behind the back passes, for easy layups/dunks. Heh.

  • GK4Prez

    If they knew that Stone was going to be out, why didn’t they invite an undrafted pg to play on the team? Not having a true pg makes it difficult to really get an idea of some of the other players games.

    Fournier is living up to expectations, which is a shooting guard that can’t shoot, but I will give him a pass because he doesn’t have a pg out there that can help to set him up. The same thing goes for JHam. Masai didn’t do a very good job of assembling this roster in my opinion.

  • GK4Prez

    I think Kitchen, Carter, and Fournier have been the bright spots on the summer league roster through the first 2 games.

  • Hank Hill

    Was Anthony Randolph sitting with anyone from Denver again?

  • GK4Prez

    I almost forgot to give props where props are due. Nice work Charlie, you have provided us with two very nice write ups on the Nuggets summer league games.

  • Cory

    The Nuggets will have one heck of a D-League team….until we trade someone.

  • MongoSlade3000

    This summer league is a wasted opportunity for guys to get better because the Nuggets have no semblance of an offense further exasperated by the total lack of a real PG. It would look different if Stone were there I’m sure.

    So the Nuggets end up having Jordan Hamilton looking to do way too much and not improving on some of his bad habits. I was hoping he’d be a little bit better of a slasher but, he’s just not that type of athlete. Handle is not strong enough and he’s not really quick or explosive. But, he can shoot and is a tremendous rebounder for his position. The more I look at him I think he and Wilson Chandler are almost too similar.

    I do like Fournier. Seems to have the ability to fully adjust to the speed and athleticism of the NBA. He’s crafty and long. I think he’ll figure it out and be a good player.

    Josh Carter looks like a legit NBA bench player. He may make more money overseas though.

    I thought Alabi and Lawal would be a little better. Chu Chu is not good. Zero instincts.

    Quincy Miller has good basketball instincts and rebounds well for someone so woefully thin and frail. He can shoot it, handle a bit, and just looks like he understands how to play basketball.

  • dynamo.joe

    Fournier DID look good and it seemed like every time he took a shot I said “HOW DID THAT NOT GO IN!?!?!?”

    It turns out I only said that 75% of the times he took shots.

    My point; no matter how good you look shooting, if you only connect 25% of the time you don’t deserve a roster spot.

    Normally I would say the sample size is too small for concern, but isn’t that exactly what he was shooting last year in France?

  • asdqqq

    My impressions from my weekend in Vegas:

    Fournier looks like an NBA player. He was always looking to pass first. And for good reason, his shot definitely needs to improve. At this point, I wouldn’t go anywhere near comparing him to Harden. A better comparison would be Rudy Fernandez, except not as good a shooter at this point. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of potential. He could be really good, but he has got to become a better shooter and a better finisher at the basket. A smooth handle and a natural athlete. The most impressive part about him was his activity on defense. He got his hands on a ton of balls and showed good anticipation in the passing lanes. He struggled following Thompson through numerous screens in the first game, but it was hard to tell how much of that was inconsistent team defense and how much was Fournier’s fault. He’s a basketball player, and I can see why the Nuggets liked him.

    Quincy Miller looks like he has some tools, but doesn’t look like he’s ready to play in the NBA at this point. He’s going to take some time to develop. Most of the time he was invisible on the court.

    Turk is a long way from being able to play in the NBA. He was comical out there. I don’t think he caught a single pass cleanly, and every other time he got the ball, he threw it straight to the other team. Yes, he’s tall and he’s got a decent shot, but he is so far from being an NBA level athlete. It could be that he is still growing into his body, but right now he looked downright clumsy. A less polished Skita at this point. If he’s going to play in the NBA, it won’t be anytime soon.

    Faried didn’t look like he was in the right condition to give full effort, so I wouldn’t take anything away from his performance. He did have a few highlights to remind us what he is capable of.

    Hamilton showed some flashes. He’s a good rebounder and shooter, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to penetrate at the NBA level, so he’s probably going to be more of a complimentary player. He struggled initiating any offense, and once Golden State started doubling him, he struggled to make the right play. Unlikely that he’ll see too many double teams in the NBA, though :).

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Very good observations asdqqq.

      The way I would describe Forunier is instinctive. I can see why others have compared him to a Ginobili type player. The key differences are Fournier is the not athlete that Manu was/is. I believe his shooting will come around as he works at the NBA three. He is struggling to get to the rim as easily as he did in France, but he can get into the lane and be effective in Denver’s drive and kick system.

      Hamilton is being asked to do more than he will be asked to do during the regular season. He needs to work on finishing with his left hand. If he drives left, he always tries to spin back to his right. However, he can definitely provide the three point shooting Denver needs and as pointed out above, he is a solid rebounder.

    • Poz_303

      You’re in Vegas?

      Fournier shows good basketball IQ for a 19yr old but he has been playing some form of pro-basketball since he was 16 (much like Gallo). So it shows in his play and court vision.

      He seems under control and I have to agree the most surprising aspect of his game is his D. If you can play D then you have a good chance to get some minutes in the NBA.

      Q.Miller needs to find a way to get more involved. He looks to lack confidence out there but the poor PG play is making it difficult for everyone.

      I think everyone has been waiting to see what Hamilton can do since he got very little opportunity on the Nuggets last season. He has shown he can shoot the three and rebound, but hasn’t blown people away off the dribble to create his own shot. Still a nice player to spread the court for the Nuggets.

      Faried is Faried.

      All other players on the roster, except maybe for Carter, look like they are a ways away from being NBA ready.

  • Andrew

    Charlie, Kalen or anyone else,

    Any update on Stone?

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Charlie is in Vegas and is doing his best to find out what Stone’s status is.

    • Charlie

      Stone is out for summer league. I don’t imagine the Nuggets are going to reveal anything else about their plans for him. He had surgery but I have no idea how long he’s out

  • Andrew

    Also, I’m seriously impressed with all of the posts/comments…there are sue seriously dedicated Nuggets fans on this site. So, I have a few more questions for anyone who feels like responding with rumors, speculation or otherwise:

    1) Is there any update on whether anyone has offered McGeezie a contract that Nuggs may have to match?
    2) Have the Nuggets made Anthony Randolph/Minnesota any offers? 3) Does Randolph play good post D? I honestly do not remember his game that well from Minnesota or NY, but his PER (not that that is the ultimate stat) is higher than Big Al Harrington, despite worse offensive numbers, so I am assuming he can play some D. If so, sign him up!

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Hey Andrew, thanks for reading and for the questions.

      No one has offered McGee a contract and there are no rumors out there indicating someone will. The team to watch would be Houston. If/when Chicago matches their offer sheet for Omar Asik, which reportedly would need to happen on Friday or Saturday assuming Asik signs the offer sheet on Wednesday, Houston may go after McGee. I assume they are going to want to preserve their cap space in order to acquire Dwight Howard. I think the chances of anyone offering McGee a Godfather offer are highly unlikely and he will ultimately sign the 5 year $50 million deal from Denver.

      As far as Randolph, he is not a very good post defender and is very slight and lite in the rump. However, he is an excellent rebounder and help side shot blocker. If taught proper technique his length and athleticism could result in him being a fantastic team defender and a nice complementary piece backing up Faried. I would love to see Denver bring Randolph on board, but they will need to open up two roster spots in order to sign Mcgee, Quincy Miller and Randolph.

      The deadline to amnesty a player this year is Tuesday. I suspect Denver would have amnestied Bird by now if they were going to, but there is always the chance they are waiting until they know they are not going to work out a trade to clear up a roster spot or two before they pull the trigger on the amnesty provision.

      I may need to turn this into an actual post!

      • tommy

        Yes, if they don’t amnesty bird by tomorrow I will be very annoyed. Bird can no longer have an impact for us (apart from taking up salary). It’s not like management are cash strapped…

  • Andrew

    *”some” not “sue”.

  • SmokinNugs

    So far this Summer League Broadband pass has been worth every penny of the $5 it cost!

    I’m bummed we won’t see Stone and that’s compounded by the fact that obviously we didn’t expect this so we didn’t bring anyone other than 2 backups (Jorge and Kitchen). Now I see Faried might not play either so it’s a good thing Fournier is impressing. I think he’ll get his shot to drop a little better this third game but I have no complaints for a guy who will likely not see the floor except during garbage time.

    I thought J-Ham would look better but I can’t complain with his production so far. As others have said I’m sure he’d have fewer shots/turnovers if there was a legitimate distributor on the team and he wasn’t having to cover those responsibilities.

    If anyone is looking for another team to check out in Summer League, the Golden State Warriors have a pretty solid team. Barnes and Klay have been lighting it up so far!

    Thanks for the summer game write-ups boys, it’s nice to hear other people’s perspectives as the scores of the games have been a poor judge of the Nuggets skill level/ effort.

  • http://roundballminingcompany.com Mark from Charlotte

    Nugget fans this is just the SUMMER LEAGUE…………

    • SmokinNugs

      And???