Last Friday, rookie shooting guard Evan Fournier introduced himself to Nuggets Nation in a major way. In only 21 minutes of action he managed to score a game-high 19 points on 6-9 shooting from the field (6-6 from the line) to go with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. After this performance and with Ty Lawson still sidelined due to injury, it’s safe to say this is likely just the beginning of Fournier’s most descriptive and telling vignette as a member of the Denver Nuggets.
In the coming days Joel will present a more in depth video breakdown of Fournier’s game, but in the meantime there are a few aspects of his repertoire we should at least come to acknowledge. After all, much like a newly discovered species, there is still so much about Fournier we don’t understand. So let’s start with what we do know:
Fournier’s a pretty good shooter. In the Nets game he went 6-9 from the field and 6-6 from the line. Five of his six field goals came from within the painted area, while his sole jump shot came from behind the 3-point line. Though it’s a small sample size Fournier is still leading all rookie shooting guards in field goal percentage by a wide margin at .488 percent.
Fournier relies on driving. In other words, he’s a slasher. While Fournier is athletic he doesn’t possess the type of freakish athleticism other slashers like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook rely on. Fournier is much more calculated — sort of like Andre Miller. He uses crafty footwork to penetrate into the lane and understands how to create contact once there. Throughout his career in France creating contact and finishing around the rim became a staple of Fournier’s game. Additionally, he’s always been able to convert his free throws at a high rate — which the Nuggets desperately need.
Fournier can stroke it from downtown. If you’ve ever seen him warm up, you know what I’m talking about. Though he was not known for being a shooter prior to arriving in the NBA, Fournier has worked diligently this season to improve his shooting stroke and overall percentage from behind the arc. With more playing time his shot will only continue to improve. When he eventually gets consistent minutes there’s a good chance Fournier will end up being just behind Gallinari in terms of accuracy from behind the 3-point line.
Fournier has good hands. While his lateral quickness is fairly average, Fournier has displayed an impressive affinity for stealing the ball throughout his career. Last year in France he ranked top 10 in steals per minute. The other night against Brooklyn he had two in just over 20 minutes of playing time. His overall defense wasn’t half bad either.
We’ll know much more about Fournier as these last several weeks of the regular season unfold. Lawson will be back no earlier than the first round of the playoffs so Fournier should see a decent amount of time during this span. Keep an eye out for the bullet points mentioned above and of course, how well he improves his defense. If he continues to limit his mistakes, give 100 percent on defense and score at a high rate, Fournier should be able to make a lasting impression on Karl that lands him a spot in the rotation come the start of the 2013-14 campaign.