Summer League Recap: Raptors end Nuggets’ tournament run

Summer league is an evaluation process more than anything else, and the Nuggets have used the last six days in the desert as an opportunity to see what they have with a young and talented roster. The Toronto Raptors also gave them a look at what they don’t have on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Nuggets 95-78 and knocking them out of tournament behind the strong play of MVP-favorite Jonas Valanciunas.

Valanciunas has not only been the best player at the Las Vegas summer league, he’s blossoming into one of the more physically imposing seven-footers in the league. Denver meanwhile is evaluating a roster built largely around the slashing and perimeter shooting of their young guards and wings. They simply had no answer for the brute strength and post-centric game of Jonas Valanciunas, who put up a solid line of 15 points and 12 boards without much resistance from the undersized Nuggets.

It really didn’t seem there was much the Nuggets could do about the loss. Jordan Hamilton played well and scored 25 points, but shots weren’t falling and the Nuggets got outrebounded to death. The final tally on the boards was a staggering 48-28 in favor of Toronto. While Denver’s players fought hard and battled it seemed they were just met head-on by their own limitations.

Fatigue may have been a factor as well, with the Nuggets playing their fourth game in a row on consecutive nights. After six days of action, tired legs were showing up for nearly every summer league team but rookie Erick Green denied that it was a determining factor in the loss.

“I don’t think we’re wearing down. We’re just not doing the little things. Not getting back on D, not rebounding well. We’re taking too many threes and it’s the little things we’re not doing that are keeping us from winning” said Green.

Green has been really tough on himself in the summer league, probably a little too much considering this wasn’t a loss that can be attributed to poor execution or effort. The Nuggets simply ran out of gas against a huge team with perhaps the best player in the tournament.

The Nuggets aren’t yet finished with summer league, but it’s essentially winding down and the competitive portion is pretty much in the books. Coaches told me they would use Denver’s final game in the consolation round as an opportunity to play different guys who haven’t seen much court time in the first five games.

The Nuggets final game of summer league will be played Friday at 6:30pm MST against Memphis in the Thomas & Mack Arena.

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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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  • Quincy Miller 30

    Jordan Hamilton is gonna be better than Corey Brewer.

    • ryanvdonk

      gonna be an interesting 3 way race with jordan, evan and foye for the starting shooting guard. i think all 3 see strong spots in the rotation as they can play multiple spots. whoever can grasp the defensive team concepts the fastest in camp probably will be the opening day starter.

      • toluene hawk

        French Mamba is a lock for 2.

        • heykyleinsf

          Be nice to Fournier.. he doesn’t deserve that. ( i get it but just despise Kobe) Starting five.. Lawson, Fournier, McGee, Faried, Chandler (until Gallo)

        • ryanvdonk

          idk, if he doesn’t take care of the ball it could be a problem…and he’s giving it up left and right against inferior competition at the summer league.

  • heykyleinsf

    i didn’t see one game but it seems pretty obvious that Hamilton has been outstanding. I asked this here on this forum last January.. what happened to him and why did GK quit playing him? GK gone right now is addition by subtraction. These guys certainly could have made a lot more noise as a group, but I have always noticed a trend with GK on this team.. the players exiled to the bench never necessarily went there because of what they did on the court. I’m excited for a new dawn of no favoritism.

    • loops

      You and me both. Glad to have a new direction.

    • toluene hawk

      How quick we are to forget Hamilton played like a rookie with wet trousers in the first 2 games.

      It is unfortunate that he had to go through a death in the family, not going to knock him if that did affect his play.

      • ryanvdonk

        all the notes from those games point to wavering focus and letting his emotions get the best of him…definitely seems to have been affecting his play. there’s an interview on nba.com where he admitted to as much and that being with his family helped.

    • Doug Risch

      That’s why we’re glad to see old George gone. They were indeed exiled to the bench and Hamilton and Fournier are good solid players who can shoot.
      Good riddance to the old guard. Get rid of Miller next and get a young point guard who doesn’t crawl up the floor or take minutes away from other players.

    • dynamo.joe

      Well, we don’t know there won’t be any favoritism. But at the very least it should be different favoritism.

  • toluene hawk

    ALL IS LOST! Everyone go home, I will look into a group buy for Miami Heat and Golden State hats and shirts for everyone. Please email me your shirt size…

    If you think about it, the summer league should be inverse regular season, as the worst teams in regular season get the best talent to play in summer league.

    • Charliemyboy

      Why would you buy those hats and shirts? Summer league doesn’t mean anything! You watch, we will win 60 games this year!

      • toluene hawk

        LETS GO NUG-GETS! *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap*

        LETS GO NUG-GETS! *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap*

        The Nuggets’ house M.C. is so good.

        • Charliemyboy

          Amen!

    • ryanvdonk

      why are people so high on golden state? i can’t see them getting higher than the 4th seed. definitely not a better team than the spurs, OKC, clips or grizz. and they really aren’t any better than the nugs, though i think it may take some time for the nuggos to gel with the new players and schemes.

      now i did just buy a supersonics hat…GP and reignman were my favorites, and that’s where i grew up.

      • toluene hawk

        I just hope the fans at The Can give GSW 10x the booing chorus that they give Kobe.

      • LBJ

        Just curious how you think we will be better than the GSW? When we start the season – they are better than us at all 5 starting positions.

        • herpderpnuggets

          all they do is shoot 3s, if they cant make shots…they lose

          • LBJ

            I’d say Iggy, Lee, Barnes, Curry looked like they could get to the rim.

        • dynamo.joe

          PG: I’ll give Curry a slight nod over Ty because Ty only showed up half the season. Having said that 2nd half Ty was basically the equivalent of Curry and Curry is brittle. Still slight advantage Warriors.

          Wing: Iggy is better than anyone we can put up, but the warriors other wings are worse than anyone we put up. Klay Thompson sucks. Harrison Barnes sucks. Those guys are young and should get better, but probably not enough. Probably a wash. At least until Gallo comes back, then slight advantage Nuggets.

          PF: Both Faried and Hickson are waaaaay better than David Lee. Only thing that can hurt us here is minutes for Darrell Arthur. Big advantage Nuggets.

          C: A big defense 1st center vs a lanky offense 1st center. It’s a wash. That elbow thing was fluky, but Bogut gets hurt a lot. Brittle?

          Bench: Holy Crap, their bench sucks. Really they have 4 good players; Curry, Iggy, Lee, Bogut. After that they are horrific. Enormous advantage Nuggets.

          • LBJ

            Wow – you must have missed the playoffs! Barnes sucks – yeah right. Klay Thompson – one of the best shooters in the NBA – sucks. Of course, those 2 can’t compare with Fournier or Chandler. David Lee is Faried with a jump shot. Just wondering – who is our offense 1st center?
            This is joke, right?

            • dynamo.joe

              JaVale is one of the highest scoring centers in the league. Top 10 in Points per minute and really, it’s Lopez a gap then 3 guys (Jefferson/Cousins/Pek) and then the rest of the guys in the top 10 for scoring Centers.

              Anyone who thinks JaVale is EVER going to develop into a top defensive center is fooling themselves. But, he can be a middle-class man’s Kareem.

              http://bkref.com/tiny/KiWZ3

              Look at the per 36 minute stats. The big difference is the FT% and the Assts.

              Klay Thompson does nothing besides shoot 3’s at the NBA level. He is basically the same guy as Foye. I’m already on record saying Foye sucks. These guys are all 1 dimensional. They don’t play D. They can’t get to the rim. They don’t rebound. They can’t create for their team mates.

              Harrison Barnes looks like he may develop into a real NBA starter, but if you bother to look at his stats the only thing he is average at is rebounding. In every other category he is below average. Not below average for a starter, below average for all SF’s who get more than 300 minutes a season.

              Supposedly we are in the market for Mike Miller. That guy is worth a dozen Klay Thompsons’ because he does other things. He can shoot. He can rebound. He can set up his teammates.

              • LBJ

                This is the problem with per 36 stats. No way any GM in the NBA would deal Klay for Miller. Miller is a broken down shell of himself. He is better than Foye, but they are one dimensional players. Thompson can get to the rim – and did in the playoffs.

          • Bricks

            I’m seeing a pretty tough bench next year for GSW. Draymond Green is no slouch. Ezeli, Speights and Douglas will also provide solid minutes. Then, Thompson or Barnes coming off the bench . . . impressive to me. Biggest problem I see: No one to spell Curry, unless they’re going to give the rook Euro 15-20 min/gm.

            • LBJ

              they signed toney douglas as backup PG

              • Bricks

                True. But Douglas hasn’t been the same player since he left Knicks. GS fans can’t be that excited about him getting a lot of minutes. Looks like Curry’s gonna see 40+ min/gm. again. That can’t be good given his proclivity to injury.

              • LBJ

                I’m not a big fan either, but they only need him for 15 minutes a game.

        • ryanvdonk

          i said i did think they would finish above us, but as people have said, they are a team that relies on the 3 ball, and have 2 important players who are very injury prone. the iggy signing really shortened their bench, so if either bogut or curry get hurt for an extended period they will not be having home court in the playoffs.

          • LBJ

            I will give you those two are fragile. However, the Iggy signing, which cost them Jefferson, Bedrins and Rush was just unloading a bunch of salary cap scum – not depth. Those guys never played.
            The S&T with the nugs let them sign douglas, speights to go along with barnes, green and the euro they drafted in the first round. Plus Ezeli will be back mid season. That looks a little better than our bench of JJ, Arthur, JHam, Dre (maybe) E Green, Foye and Mozzy (maybe).

            • ryanvdonk

              i was referring to jack and landry, neither of which they could afford after signing iggy. jack was big for them as he was much more of a slasher than curry at the point, getting a lot of open looks for his teammates on the perimeter. and we know that landry is a pretty efficient scorer from mid range and the post. douglas and speights replace them, but both are downgrades.

              • LBJ

                Actually, Iggy replaces Jack – which is an upgrade. Plus Chandler is a starter until Gallo gets back – and based on their respective playoff showings I think Barnes may be better than him anyway. I would agree that we don’t know much about our SGs now. Also, I’m not a big Douglas fan, I think Andre is better than him.

              • ryanvdonk

                hard to grade chandler when he was playing center…lucky i had nothing near me when that happened else i might have thrown it at my TV. also, can’t really say iggy replaces jack, he’s a starting wing. not a backup PG, but that’s just my opinion. i guess the warriors will have a little fun in camp with barnes and thompson competing for the starting wing opposite iggy.

              • LBJ

                I was more talking about comparing the minutes of Iggy and Jack. I agree that they are different players, but I think they will be better.

  • Sueperfan

    I saw several mystifying runs during the summer league games, with Nuggets playing the 3 small guards together(as if we weren’t already smaller than the opponent), where the plays seemed to be designed for them to take turns trying to get to the rim against much bigger inside defenders….we have Ty who we KNOW can do that. Is this an attempt to settle on the backup who can do the same?

  • Sueperfan

    I was also impressed by Luke Harangody – big body, good outside shot and he can make FTs!

  • EWilson

    Apparently, the Nuggets are considering signing Mike Miller. Thought?
    Personally, I don’t like the move even recognizing Denver’s limited options shooting the 3-ball. Miller is old, injury prone and a liability on defense. I know we have questions on the wing with Iggy and Brewer gone, but I’d rather give young guys like Hamilton a chance. If they fail, then we can see if better options open themselves up next year.

    Supposedly, they would be offering the veterans minimum (hopefully for 1 year), but even with that limited investment, I’d rather not block the progress of the younger guys if I can avoid it. Apparently Miller wants minutes, which, to me, obviates any ‘mentor’ role the team might be considering. Otherwise, that might justify the signing. (Does anyone know what kind of teammate Miller is?)