Summer League Recap: Denver Nuggets 84 Memphis Grizzlies 91

Of the sixteen players on the Nuggets’ roster at the 2013 NBA Summer League, more than half have not had a chance to play meaningful minutes. A few of those players finally got a chance in Friday’s 91-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver’s fifth game in five days and their finale in Las Vegas. The Nuggets finished with a 1-5 record overall.

Jordan Hamilton did not dress for the game and Evan Fournier played just eight first-quarter minutes. Luke Harangody led the Nuggets in scoring with 17 points off the bench. Nuggets’ coaches delegated a lot of minutes and responsibility to seldom-used reserves — they played 14 guys in total and 11 of them received ten minutes or more.

One reason for the lack of continuity in rotations was the summer league format itself. Many teams had spent the entirety of their previous games trying to build chemistry and cohesion within a particular group, one that would give them the best chance to win and advance in the tournament. I heard from a number of teams and coaches who felt that format was not the most conducive to the real purpose of summer league: evaluating talent and player development.

The Nuggets led by six after the first quarter and stayed close all game, but Memphis pulled away in the fourth behind energetic performances from Vander Blue, Jack Cooley and Matt Howard. Denver was a very perimeter-oriented team throughout summer league and their shooting was up and down throughout the entire event. When they did get in the paint, the Nuggets lacked creative finishers and their young guards were all still learning how to make the right play off the dribble.

All in all, the Nuggets’ summer league has to be considered a success in that it served it’s intended purpose. They were able to showcase current Nuggets Quincy Miller, Evan Fournier, and Jordan Hamilton in larger roles and all of them showed growth in one form or another. The remainder of the roster fought for scraps and many struggled when asked to adapt to a variety of roles and sporadic playing time.

Rookie center Kyle Barone described the summer league experience as “Just a different type of game. It’s quick shots, things like that. You kinda just have to get your own out there.” The mobile big man performed admirably as the lone true center who could score and defend in the post, but Barone told me he didn’t get to showcase his pick-and-pop skills or three-point range. Watching Barone struggle to play his game in a role ill-suited to his strengths was odd, but it was also a valuable experience that likely gave the rookie hopeful a great deal of knowledge about where he needs to improve in order to play at the next level.

“It was a good experience overall, playing with [new teammates] and a bunch of guys who have already been in the NBA. It was a challenging week,” Barone said.

With the 2013 NBA Summer League now in the books for the Denver Nuggets, Roundball Mining Company can move on to evaluating the performances and growth of those who participated. That will be forthcoming, but for now — after a long five days in Vegas, I need a little bit of a break.

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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.
  • Scott

    Heard Kenneth rolled his ankle in a pick up game and will likely miss Team USA mini camp. Don’t know extent of injury.

  • Charliemyboy

    Consistency and Passion
    Can’t take a lazy attitude. Our team underperformed. Saying it was a success would be double true for everyone that whipped our butt. I was disappointed.
    Consistency and Passion: That is the primary focus for management. Can the player be counted on almost all the time. I remember when Ty was chided for giving his all, and then disappearing. Toward the end of the year, you knew what he could do and what he did. Evan started with passion this summer, then lost confidence. Someone kick his butt… he’s better than that! This is the difference in age and experience, and attitude. Passion; relentlessness. I just saw some clips of Jordan rising above every tough center during his time. In their face, with power and grace. Charles Barkley. Faried has that passion. Actually, Corey used to play for us that way. This is more important than performance or talent; i.e., consistency and passion. That’s how you win. Too bad Harangody doesn’t quite have the talent to do real well; he seems to have the passion and confidence. I don’t know what the coaches can do, but I think anger or fear can be a motivator. Kobe has an anger perspective. It’s like, on every play, every day, the attitude has to be: “I don’t give a flip what you can do or who you are, eat this!” Faried has it. Fearlessness. Ty is getting it. Andre Miller has it even though he’s slowed down. Have to dismiss this summer as non-existent due to the performance. There has to be more K-A.

    • joefresco

      Have to disagree with you.

      Talent, athleticism, and cohesion win championships. If passion alone won it, then a team of Tyler Hansboroughs would win every year.

      • Charliemyboy

        Then you better cheer for Miami. We don’t get all stars. They have to be made by their consistency and passion. We have to win because there is no other choice.

        • will

          He’s not making a normative argument.

    • Evan Woodruff

      Dude it’s f*cking summer league.
      We played almost no big men… in the game of basketball. Calm Down.

      • Charliemyboy

        Our big men weren’t competitive enough. We tried different options. Nothing worked. Do you think we set out to lose? Can we evaluate and still win? What did the good clubs do? We were almost there. I’m too impatient and don’t like regression. Sorry. We are plugging holes with players other teams don’t want.

        • Matthew Owens

          Uhhh. It’s summer league!

          • Charliemyboy

            Uhhh, someone like you lose. I don’t.

            • Michael

              I get where you are coming from, I do. I agree that there didn’t appear to be consistent performances put forward by all the players, however I do believe a couple of the players did manage to put together some games.

              Hamilton was clearly affected by the death of his cousin and when he came back from attending the funeral he had a 23 and 25 point game on back to back days, I think that speaks to his ability to overcome adversity and put in good games.
              Erick Green was trying to be a ‘pure’ PG in the first game which is clearly not his game and it showed. Multiple Nuggets staff/team members commented on it and how they told him to just go out there and play his game and from then on he played much better all around.
              Evan was all over the place and was probably the most disappointing for me as I felt he should have been the most consistent and reliable considering his French pro league experience and his time in the NBA.
              Quincy showed massive improvement from last years SL. He clearly still has a lot of work to do but at least we know he has been working on his game and that he is determined to improve himself. As Melvin Hunt said in regards to Q, they know he is going to make mistakes they just want him to keep making different mistakes and learn from them instead of repeating the same ones.

              To take a line from George Karl, you have to remember that some of these guys should really only have just finished their second year of college.

              A couple of issues our SL team had was, as mentioned we didn’t have a true Center, Barone was it at 6’10”. Other than him we had Q at 6’10” who is more of a SF, Anosike at 6’8″, Howell at 6’7″ and Harongody at 6’7″. On top of that we had coaching issues with the new guy being in charge to start with even though he had just been hired and knew nothing of the team. Then we changed to have Hunt run the team which seemed to be an improvement, most likely because he had been running the team up until the new guy was hired and he had knowledge of some of the guys strengths and weaknesses from coaching them all last year.

              • Bricks

                Good comments, Michael. Didn’t see the game. Your analysis was insightful, esp. comments about Hunt.

              • Charliemyboy

                Michael, I agree. Well thought out and written. It’s fun to stir up the blood though. I used to watch Jordan in my early years and he never accepted an excuse to lose for any reason. I don’t know what it will take, but I’m still pissed at where we might have been and the summer games added to the hole.

              • Bricks

                Your early years? When Jordan was playing you were in your 40s. You’re the one who gave up your age a few days ago . . . :*)

              • Charliemyboy

                Son, 40 WAS young. Trust me when you’re my age. The good news is, 20 years later I’m still young. ☺ The secret is dance and passion for winning (vicariously)…

        • loops

          We didn’t have any big men. Who was our Center? I agree that Harangody’s passion was unmatched. I do believe that JHam and Odom brought an above average passion. Especially after Hamilton got some closure seeing his cousin put in his resting place. I think some of the players were out to prove themselves and noticed Fournier was trying to force things as was Q Miller at times. Greene was unsure of himself as most rookies are. CJ Harris didn’t look too bad.

          • Charliemyboy

            I did watch some of SA and they sure looked organized. We just got caught with not enough moxey to put the team together right, not with quite the right people. Can’t play old bigs so we had to use the new ones. I want to harass Josh until out team performs like SA or like Phil’s teams used to; don’t just want a good team. We almost had something special. He better produce or eat his words. And I’m not patient.

        • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

          Seriously? The good clubs? lmao good clubs in summer league… you’re hilarious.

          • Charliemyboy

            You look like your laughing! Or something. Were there good clubs in the NBA? How did their summer teams do? Do you know?

            • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

              no. but you seem to. why don’t you enlighten me on how the good teams in the NBA put so much stock into summer league.

              • Charliemyboy

                I don’t care whether they put stock in the summer game or not. I’m not like you. I like to see the probability of improvement and success as reflected in the choices by management to enhance the team. By that measure, it appears we have slipped. So far improvement is not apparent. Perhaps things will gel and JaVale will develop. Right now: a big questionmark. I like to capitalize my sentences.

              • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

                I’m sorry, good sir, I hadn’t a clue that this were a proper grammar class. I hope my terrible ignorance has not offended you in any way, but ef u wernt awear, WUN gai on teh sumer league teem es guna get lots uv minuts dis seezin. dat es evin fornyay. MAYBEE jorden gits a litle minuts & MAYBEE quintzey gits to see the kort dis seezin. so, pleez explane to a stoopid, egnorent, pezent liek me hao teh sumer leeg teem dooeng bed es eny endikashin det teh teem es guna do bed dis yeer?

              • Charliemyboy

                You know, that’s not easy to do. Good job!☺

  • Bricks

    Marc Stein ✔ @ESPNSteinLine
    Hearing: Denver has emerged as new threat in Mike Miller chase along w/OKC & MEM. Nuggets have wing PT to offer after Iguodala/Brewer exits
    12:21 PM – 20 Jul 2013

    • loops

      Really hope this doesn’t come to fruition. It would be such a short-sighted silly move IMO

      • Bricks

        Lot of health issues, but when he’s right he can be an asset long range and not horrible defensively. Also if healthy, prefer MM over Foye . . . esp. 3 yrs. ago.

        • loops

          3 years ago sure. However, we have Randy Foye now. I just have to ask who’s roster spot is this at the expense of? I just don’t get it. Mike Miller is a one trick pony from the 3. IMO it’s the kind of move that we should have made if we kept GK but since we jettisoned GK, you don’t make this type of move. You wanted the young guys to play but now you’re going to bring in an injury prone one trick pony to take minutes away? Just doesn’t make a ton of sense to me.

          • Bricks

            Nugs div. rivals recruiting him heavily — Durant and MGasol personally lobbying for him. Like I said, if the dude’s right, rather see him bombing for Nugs than OKC or MEM. Wouldn’t mind rotations at 1 & 2 with Ty, E4 (my new name for Fournier), Foye, MMiller and AMiller. Can’t seriously be considering Greene for >10/gm. this year.

            • loops

              Greene shouldn’t be considered for anything other than 2 minutes in garbage time of games already over for the majority of the season. Although I really have no interest in Fournier starting. I think Foye should start and JHam and Fournier should battle it out for backup minutes. Fournier was terrible in SL and was way too up and down last year to be starting.

              • Bricks

                Agree with your Greene comment, and I agree Foye starts at 2. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see JHam much this summer, and there seem to be a lot of comments that he’s looking pretty good. When I did see him the first couple of SL games he stunk. I haven’t even been considering JHam as viably getting many minutes at all — maybe I’m missing something.

              • loops

                You’re right he did stink but when he came back after his cousins funeral it was night and day. He looked great on offense, decision making and the best defender on our sl squad

              • Michael

                You mentioned he was drafted higher than you expected him to go, where did you expect him to land? He was projected at 16 on Chad Ford’s Mock draft for most of the lead up to the draft including his last release before the draft. I was happy when we drafted him because I had followed him a little and liked his workout with Denver and thought he was a great get at that spot in the draft.

              • loops

                I somehow got confused about where we drafted JHAM. On second look I saw we got him at 26th overall. I expected him to go in the 23-25 range. I must have thought we took him earlier because of some of the projections. So I take that back. Oops

              • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

                well, we didn’t draft him at all. the mavs did & we got him, I think, in a 3 way with portland involving felton & miller

              • loops

                I thought we made the trade prior to the pick and had Dallas pick him for us? It just wasn’t approved by the league until later

  • dynamo.joe

    Anyone else think they shut Hamilton down because they didn’t want their starting 2guard to get injured in summer league? Or did they just want to get looks at the rest of the roster?

    • loops

      That’s a good question. Could be that they know what they have. Q Miller and Fournier still got minutes and JHam missed 2 of the games. One for the funeral as well as the last game. So it’s not as if they were just giving him a game off because he had played every game up until then.

    • Bricks

      JHam starting at 2?? I’ve never even considered that. What have I missed in SL?

      • loops

        Considering it’s only SL. His defense was solid, his decision making was even better. He was clearly the best player on the court for us and contended for the best player on the court period in those 2 games. Again, SL withstanding he went in 2 games combined

        48 points
        18-35 FG
        51.43%
        8-17 3pt
        47.1%
        4-4 FT
        7 Rebounds
        1 Assist
        4 Steals
        3 Turnovers

      • dynamo.joe

        Well, you have to put someone there.

        What are the options? Fours, Foye, Hamilton, Ty (if they use Karl’s 2PG scheme w/Miller at point), I’m assuming Chandler starts at 3. Did I miss anyone? Green?

        None of those guys are gonna be great defenders this year.

        Offensively, I think I would take Hamilton’s game over the others, but its close with Fours. The only thing that worries me about Hamilton’s offense is that he’s a black hole. But, maybe he wasn’t passing because he thought scoring would get him more minutes?

        • Bricks

          You’re right, the options are not obvious, but I think they brought in Foye, a decent vet, to start over guys like E4 and JHam who truly are not ready to start or contribute 20+ min/gm. I am glad that KronCon is looking at other options (i.e. NateRob and MMiller), as it shows they’re focused on the 2, but THE guy is not on the Nugs’ roster yet. Unfortunately, trade options appear to running thin.

          • dynamo.joe

            Is Ronnie Brewer still available? He can’t shoot the 3 but he is a good defender.

            Right now I feel the The KronCs are like really smart 8 year olds. They heard all last year “we need outside shooting”, so they went and looked up all the best 3pt shooters available in FA. But like smart 8 yr olds, they failed to realize that what people meant was “If only the Andre’s brought 3pt shooting along with everything else they do well”.

            Now we will have 3pt shooting but we will miss the defense, play making, post game, ability to get to the rim, that we gave up to get the 3’s.

  • Mens Sana

    Hi, i’m GIANLUCA … i don’t speak in this time but :
    1) KARL FIRE… yes :) , now with Shaw the Nuggets have a good coach anche can program the future .
    KARL 1 first round win in last 9 years with MELO,JR,BIRDMAN,MARTIN,IVERSON,BILLUPS,LAWSON,IGUODALA,FARIED,GALLO,MCGEE ecc (he play with miller fournier brewer randolph koufos LOL )
    2) IGGY don’t love Denver… i tell this in december
    3) we have 4/5 of the starter good , now 1 SG and we can arrive in playoff
    4) KEEP CALM , team young (without IGGY) and a new coach ….

    5) i want Denver Nba Champion in the next 10 years

    • toluene hawk

      I;m so glad you’re back, I was beginning to forget how good Gallo is.

    • Evan Woodruff

      Ew you’re a warriors fan

    • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

      Holy Shit, it’s GIANLUCA lol