In their final nonplayoff Summer League game of 2014 the Nuggets played, well, terribly. I honestly don’t know if I can go through with watching another one of these… things… whatever they are. Anyway, it was bad, nobody played good, and now I’m happy that it’s over.
This was really the first glaring manifestation of Harris’ weaknesses. He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (6-20 on the night) yet he kept taking one outside shot after another. The good news? He’s 19, a rookie and has yet to play in his first real NBA game. If we started judging players based on their shot selection at Summer League we’d certainly not be in the business of living in reality. However, Harris’ struggles shouldn’t be brushed under the rug without at least some form of examination…
At the moment, Harris’ biggest weakness (and really the only one I can see) is his lack of a penetrating game. Almost all Harris’ shots came from beyond 15 feet. I can only count on one hand the times he even attempted to dribble into the lane after receiving a pass from a teammate, and those occasions often ended with an ensuing pass rather than an attempt to score at the hoop. Thankfully, Harris comes from college equipped with quality handle and enough speed to break his man down off the dribble, so it’s not as if this problem is irreparable. I’d assume this issue will be one the Nuggets’ coaching staff will focus on throughout the summer so that by fall he’s ready to contend for the Nuggets’ backup shooting guard position — because if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last three games, it’s that Harris’ defense is top notch.
Seriously, I could not be more impressed with Harris’ defensive. This is Summer League we’re talking about and Harris brought it on every, single, possession. Exum destroyed his competition in the Jazz’s first game a few days ago, yet on Tuesday with Harris on him he was almost invisible. In this game alone Harris had a block, two steals and about five occasions where he either forced a turnover or deflected a pass. Even on the last real play of the game, after a dismal night of shooting, Harris was low in a defensive stance pressuring his man at the top of the court, poking at the ball until his opponent turned it over, which in turn led to a breakaway layup.
How many guys at Summer League do that?
Answer: not many.
Quincy Miller and Erick Green
Let’s make this short and sweet to save my memory from any more tragic pangs than I’ve already had to endure by attempting to relive this game…
Quincy Miller was horrendous. As bad as Gary Harris was, Miller was even worse. He shot he ball 17 times and it went through the hoop on three of those attempts. To make matters worse, Miller defended with vigor of a bloodless cadaver (as he has all Summer League) and attributed virtually nothing in all other areas of the floor. It used to be Quincy Miller was a fairly well-rounded basketball player who was decent at a lot of little things that helped you win. Maybe it’s just the nature of Summer League, but he was exactly the opposite this past week, scoring well (until this game) while giving minimal effort in every other aspect of the game. This, needless to say, was pretty disappointing.
I hate saying it, given he hasn’t even played a game in a Nuggets uniform, but I can’t see Green being a regular contributor at the NBA level. His athleticism is just way more pedestrian than I ever thought. Against the Jazz he got rejected going up for a fairly easy dunk (for the second time in the past three games) and failed to convert on a wide open alley oop from Gary Harris. Furthermore, his shot isn’t near as deadly as it was in college. He’s a good 3-point shooter, but not nearly as great as he needs to be in order to make up for his other deficiencies and ensure a long and prosperous career in the NBA. I hope he proves me wrong, but at this point I’d be surprised if the Nuggets brought him to Denver for the upcoming season.