Funny how things work in life. A mere three months ago Evan Fournier was the pariah of Nuggets Nation before even stepping foot on the court wearing blue and yellow. Then when he actually did, you know, start playing basketball — people come around. And fast.
We’re not going to lie. The degree of separation between Fournier at 14 and Quincy Miller at 15 is almost nonexistent. The same thing can be said for Fournier and our next Nugget who will appear at No. 13. The fact is, it’s extremely hard to tell where a lot of the lower-ranked third of the Nuggets on our list truly belong. As we’ve come to find out with George Karl, just because you ride the bench doesn’t necessarily mean you’re worse than people who are logging consistent minutes.
What earned Fournier this spot is simple: his Summer League play.
In Vegas, Fournier looked good. He didn’t blow people out of the water, but he certain surpassed most fans’ expectations. What he proved, above all else, is that he belonged. Averaging the second most points per game of any Nugget behind Jordan Hamilton at 14.8, Fournier finished with a better scoring average than Top 10 picks Terrence Ross and Thomas Robinson. He played with confidence, swagger and an edge that you want to see from guys who are just breaking into the league. Even his defense was far more impressive than anyone would have thought for a rookie who’s main obligation with his former team was carrying the load in scoring.
Unlike Quincy Miller, Fournier’s path to playing time could be relatively attainable when glancing into the near future. Outside of Andre Iguodala (who some consider to be a better small forward anyways), Fournier is the only real shooting guard on the Nuggets 15-man roster. He also fits the George Karl mold in that he thrives off getting to the basket and relies heavily on his distribution skills. When considering he’s been playing professional basketball since age 16, it seems likely that his growing spurts and adjustments will come at a more friendly rate than that of Quincy Miller.
Watching Evan Fournier develop is going to be just as interesting as watching any of the other Nuggets young guns grow. Why? Because nobody knows anything about him. Who is the real Evan Fournier? Who is he? The one that shows strength in the face of adversity or instead, crumbles? The one that comes through in the clutch or withers in the spotlight? The one that takes the blame even if it’s not his fault, or the one that would rather let his teammate take the fall? These are the questions that Fournier will soon answer to help us, as fans, better understand who he really is not only as a basketball player, but as a man.
Judging by his play, bravado and overall demeanor at Summer League, Fournier is a lot more eager to answers these types of tough questions than we are to ask them.
I’ll take that as an answer in itself. And a good one too.