Summer League recap: Utah Jazz 87, Denver Nuggets 69

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.

Box score, courtesy of NBA.com

Gary Harris

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.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

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  • Hank

    At least nurkic is lookin good in Europe, his team is bulldozing through everyone and judging from the stats it’s all thanks to nurkic, he seems to be a leader on the team

    • etlord1

      The only thing that concerns me over the last two games is his turnovers, but I liked the fact that he played 36 minutes today and committed only 3 fouls. He did the honorable thing by playing for Bosnia and bypassing summer league. I would’ve loved to see him play in summer league this year though.

      • TomRMC

        Turnovers and fouls committed have been his major areas of weakness for a while. He’s only been playing since he was 14 or 15 (I’ve heard him say both) which is 4 or 5 years. Turnovers and fouls are common for young, raw players.

        Nuggets coaches also did a pretty decent job helping Mozgov in those areas this year — he was at a career low in turnover percent and in fouls per 100 possessions. Nurkic should get better in those areas with the benefit of the same coaches.

        Some positives: he’s top 10 in basically every statistical category, except ft% and assists (top 15 in both). He’s also averaging 8 fouls drawn per game, and got fouled 12 times against Portugal. This is exactly what I want to see against weaker competition — opposing teams are keying on him and he’s still dominating.

  • heykyleinsf

    Cavs signed Mike Miller…

    Tom…
    aren’t the Javale and Jusuf projects similar …
    at least in that they have size, span, athleticism, potential..
    but lack finesse, patience, discipline, nuance and outside shooting?

    I’m sure I’m overgeneralizing..
    and don’t get me wrong.. I’m hopeful for both.
    I know Nurkic would seem a better pick and roll guy..

    But is there a fair analogy?
    If not or if so…
    any ideas and feedback appreciated.
    It just seems like we got two young bigs that could be
    awesome.. but the key is still “could be”

    • Sócrates Manzoni

      Chill man, it’s the offseason and there’s nothing we can do about JaVale but hope for the best. I urge you to not get too frustrated by JaVale – he is the player he is. He wont become Hakeem or even change much of his game after six seasons in the NBA.

      Jusuf on the other hand is 19 and can develop into a very good player even an AllStar! To me, his main issue is dealing with lenght as even a skinny guy like Clint Capela gave his trouble last year. I imagine that going agaisnt javale in practice will make him adjudt better to NBA lenght – there’s no one longer than JaVale!

      • heykyleinsf

        actually I think I am one of the few people not giving up on him.
        I think we can look at it like we’re stuck..
        or have a little hope that he breaks through

        • Native Nugget

          I holding out hope with a dose of pessimism. JaVale is gifted and well intended but has been slow even for a big man in finding his groove. I see him as likely a decent back up center who may one day drink the magic potion and suddenly turn into a real player.

          I see the difference between Jusuf and JaVale as pretty big. JaVale is more of a fines player with length and crazy athleticism. He is at least an inch taller, has about 6″ longer wingspan and about a 10″ higher vertical. Jusuf is athletic but a grittier player, his Euro background has insured he has a balance of fines and traditional style. Had he played 20 years ago in the NBA he would have turned into a smash mouth beast due to his character. Based on upside it makes sense to have held on to JaVale as a project for physical reasons. Jusuf IMO will accelerate faster than JaVale for mental reasons.

    • slugdugg

      This is like a poetry slam …

    • TomRMC

      One major difference between JaVale and Jusuf is that JaVale has been playing in the NBA for 6 years, while Jusuf has been playing for about 5 years total. JaVale doesn’t show the sort of finesse, patience, discipline, or feel for the game that a player in his 7th NBA season should. Nurkic shows the lack of those things that a 19 year old typically does.

      When JaVale was 19, he was averaging 3 points, 2 rebounds, and a block at Nevada. Nurkic at 19 is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists, and 2 steals in the FIBA U20 (Division B) championships. These aren’t directly comparable, but this does suggest Nurkic has a better chance to reach his potential than JaVale does.

      JaVale has also shown over a long period of time that he learns these things slowly and might not ever really “get it”. Nurkic has shown that he learns pretty quickly. I’m hopeful for both — I’d love to see JaVale play really well this year and give the Nuggets a boost, and I’d love to see Nurkic turn into a force in a couple years just when JaVale’s contract expires.

      • heykyleinsf

        thanks Tom.
        I just hope some how there is a use for that wingspan in the system.
        I don’t ever see Javale becoming Kareem, Hakeem or Shaq..
        but he does make a pretty good force field if he could find discipline.
        I’m excited to see what happens with him this year.
        I have a feeling at the very least he will be improved.

  • Nugman

    Miller seems to be following the same path as JHam. You think may have potential, yet he seems to go backwards instead. Harris is the only guy who may make a real NBA player, but only time will tell. I also think it’s clear that the Nuggets summer league depth is pretty bad. After the big three (lol) we fall off in a hurry. It’s hard to believe the FO can’t get 5 or 6 guys better than this group.

  • Richard Pesicka

    It’s going to be a long season. Summer leagues is where you start putting the puzzled together. Not watch it come apart.

    • Furious_Stylez

      You clearly have no clue what the Summer League is. It’s an audition against the best drafted players the NCAA has to offer, as well young NBA guys looking for a roster spot. It’s essentially a pickup game to judge strengths and weaknesses of rookies. Like the NFL preseason, it is NOT a preview of how the season will go. Harris is the only lock to make the Nuggets roster. Everyone else is hoping to make the team or impress another team that may have a need for their skill set.

    • Cullen

      There is a maximum of three players that would even make the regular season roster. After three games, most likely one. I think it’s completely unfair to make judgements on regular season potential by players that are unlikely to ever play a regular season minute in the NBA.

    • Bryan

      The Summer league means nothing. Skita dominated Summer league (winning MVP honors) on the Nuggets team and then sucked.

      Also, the Nuggets had one first rounder and two second rounders on its team. The rest were guys who’d never made it into the league (and Green has also actually never played in the league). Whereas the Bulls had two first rounders, I think the Jazz had 3 first rounders. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Nuggets lost to more talented teams.

      Especially, since there is a chance that only one of the players from the Summer league team will actually be on the roster this season.

      The encouraging thing from Summer league was Harris’ flashes and the fact that he played defense even when his shot wasn’t falling. The discouraging part was Q. Miller’s lack of improvement. But his contract isn’t guaranteed on the roster and the Nuggets and he’s not playing a position of need, so it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

  • MacKenzie Pantoja

    I still think Erick Green can be C.J. Watson

  • Thomas

    Gary Harris will be a great addition to this team. His motion is fluid, he plays composed and most importantly he is a great on ball/off ball defender – despite his size. Shame that this summer league team is awful, that he has to play with Q Miller, who is atrocious to watch.

    Your standard fare Nuggets coaching job, they take out Harris for the majority of the second quarter and…game is more less over by the time he returns. Our team is a magnet for coaching stupidity.

    I’d bet Nurkic will be better than both our centers by the end of the season. Then again, our coaching staff will do it’s best GK impersonation and bury him in the bench and give him 12 minutes a game or less.

    I’d go bold and play him 20-25 minute a game to accelerate his learning curve. I would also trade Foye and give Harris the minutes he needs.

    What I really wanted to see is for us to trade for Rondo and have a very good defensive backcourt of Rondo-Afflalo/Harris. I get a feeling that Ty has reached his full potential and it’s downhill from here. I am probably wrong, but if it happens we are doomed and we lose our biggest trade chip. As you can see I am very biased on Rondo, I like to watch him play and I think he can still be a killer in the playoffs and carry a team very far – something I don’t see Ty doing.

    • MacKenzie Pantoja

      I like Nurkic as much as the next guy, but he’s 19. I’d be stunned if he was our best center by the end of the season

      • Thomas

        You may be right, but we probably won’t be able to find out as he won’t get the minutes. But your faith in Green is far fetched – he is playing against subpar competition and hasn’t stood out.

        • Cullen

          Yeah, especially with how Mosgov played last year. I could see him continuing improvement. I could see Nurkic being better than McGee by the end of the season. I honestly think McGee will be gone if he’s healthy and plays some mildly productive minutes, so he might end up playing more than we think. Regardless, even if he doesn’t play a ton of minutes he’s only 19 and has been playing for a total of 5 years and is currently killing it in U20 FIBA against a ton of Eastern European countries. I think Nurkic has a ton of potential, but we should be realistic about what he can do in a year.

          • LBJ

            NBA teams should carry 3 centers on their rosters – even if one is a project.

            • Cullen

              Yeah, so it’s not too big of a deal even if we don’t end up trading JaVale.

  • Nugman

    Should the Nuggets try to get Boozer on the cheap? It would give Nugs a veteran inside presence

    • Furious_Stylez

      If the Nuggets FO is serious about resigning Faried, this can’t happen. It would scare KF off by signing a guy that plays his position. Also, this roster would lose significant pieces trading for a $16.5m contract, especially since Boozer is a washed up player.

      I’m gonna bet that since they landed Gasol for only $7.5m this season, they’re gonna keep Boozer and flip him at the deadline for more scoring. They may need to use that amnesty on Rose if his knees are still shot or he never gets back to an MVP level. I was hoping we’d sign Humphries (perfect complement to KF and is a solid role player), but he signed with another team.

      • LBJ

        Surely, the roster slots allocated to old journeymen past their prime are full. Here is a new concept – how about signing a young guy that may actually improve?

        • Furious_Stylez

          I also suggested that the FO take a look at: XHenry, Wes Johnson, A Aminu, and DMiller.

          I named those players because they are UFA 3s that are actually obtainable, young (all under 27 years old), and cheap players. We don’t need a starter or a sixth man, just a role player to provide depth. I’d prefer Wes Johnson or Xavier Henry (both former Lakers).

          Marion was just a fun thought, but he’ll take less money to play on a contender. I’d much rather have him than Mike Miller if we’re discussing adding a veteran presence.

          • LBJ

            I agree – we are on the same page.

          • Nugman

            Marion isn’t much of an outside shooter, so he really doesn’t fit. I agree that has hard as the FO went after Miller there must be some concern about Gallo.

        • Nugman

          I agree we don’t need any more old journeymen, but if we could get Boozer cheap for 1 season and trade JJ we would be in a better position. It would get rid of JJs contract and give Nurkic a year to develop. Boozer might even help teach Faried and Nurkic to post up since that’s what Shaw is going to have them do. He might even help Moz and McGee. I just don’t see JJ teaching anyone anything.

          • LBJ

            I would rather have Boozer than JJ also. However, other teams aren’t willing to take on a guy coming off ACL surgery with a bad contract, without other concessions.

    • Cullen

      I just don’t see it happening. He would fit right into the glut we have now at the power forward. Is he really any better than JJ Hickson or Darrell Arthur? Probably not. He would be a less than big PF… unless we make a trade I doubt it.

      • Nugman

        The bulls just amnestied Boozer so we might get him real cheap. He is a veteran and it might help us trade JJ because we would have someone to backup Faried. His experience might help our young PFs and centers

        • Cullen

          I wouldn’t argue with that addition, I just don’t see it happening. They would have to trade JJ coming off of a knee injury, so I have my doubts anyone would take him. I se him signing with a team before the season.

    • Bryan

      This would be a huge mistake, imo. Aside from the glut of PF’s they have, Boozer would generally start well in the 1st qtr for the Bulls and then disappear for the rest of the games.

      I think the Nuggets should trade Faried to avoid overpaying him but I’d rather overpay Faried than bring in Boozer.

  • slugdugg

    Ugh… Poor Quincy.

  • Andrew Streight

    Has there been any update on the Faried extension talks? A few weeks ago it seemed like Connelly was going to sit down with Faried and discuss an extension, but haven’t heard anything since then.

    • LBJ

      Based on some of the restricted FA signings (Parsons, Heyward) – Faried is likely asking for a lot more money than we expected a couple of months ago.

      • Andrew Streight

        Yeah, that’s what I’ve been afraid of. I really like Faried, but he’s definitely not worth anything close to a max contract at this point.

        • mike gomez

          that why denver was trying to get an the kevin love chase because i think they are scare of what he might demand. i also read that Denver made a serious push at bosh last week.

  • Wilson

    who and what can we trade to get in on this Wiggins deal? Why don’t we just give CLE anything they want for a 3-way trade and get Wiggins?

    • Bryan

      We have nothing Minnesota or Cleveland want more than Wiggins.

      • Wilson

        how about a bench for Cleveland? we could fill every gap they have with a veteran presence — and then WE GET WIGGINS!

    • mike gomez

      how would that work if min wants wiggins. min would come out as losers

      • Wilson

        so what! minn doesn’t get anything. they don’t have to involved in the deal.

    • Heisenberg

      Would have to be a minimum of Gallo and Harris/Afflalo (they can’t trade Harris until August, anyway), and even that probably wouldn’t get it done.

      • Wilson

        Gallo, Faried, and Afflalo — maybe Ty and/or pick or two? I mean, sometimes you have to break the bank to get a star and Wiggins will certainly develop to be just that!