Barring any further trades which would open up additional roster spots, the Denver Nuggets may well be finished with free agency this offseason.
Today it was reported by Mark Deeks of ShameSports.com that Denver has signed first round draft pick Jusuf Nurkic following the successful completion of a buyout with his Croatian team earlier this month. Additionally, Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post also reported that the Nuggets will soon sign last year’s second round pick Erick Green, who played in Italy last season and showed significant improvement in his Summer League play.
When completed, the signings will top off the Nuggets roster at the maximum 15 players. (more…)
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.
The Nuggets found themselves on the other end of a beatdown in their second summer league game, losing by a score of 103-76 to the Chicago Bulls. Former Nugget (for about 10 minutes) Doug McDermott torched Denver for 31 points on 12 shots. Quincy Miller had another big scoring night for the Nuggets, finishing up with 24 points in the loss.
In lieu of the traditional recap or a super-serious analytic take on summer league, here’s a look at the three summer Nuggets we’ll be following closely all tournament, plus a few observations on the rest of the squad.
The Denver Nuggets’ first Summer League game of 2014 was all about three players: Gary Harris, Quincy Miller and Erick Green. While Harris is already under contract heading into next season, Miller and Green remain the most likely candidates to secure the Nuggets’ final two roster spots. Not surprisingly, it was these three who carried the Nuggets to their first win in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon, each turning in impressive individual performances which I analyze below.
As has been the case for the last decade, the Denver Nuggets will participate at this year’s Las Vegas Summer League. You can find further details, including the roster and schedule, at the Nuggets’ NBA.com homepage.
It’s worth noting Jusuf Nurkic will not be with the team in Vegas; Gary Harris, Erick Green and Quincy Miller will be, however. Assuming the Nuggets retain Miller, that puts Denver at 14 roster spots heading into next season (including Harris and Nurkic), meaning this will likely be Green’s audition to strike a deal with the team that drafted him. RMC may or may not cover all the Nuggets’ Summer League games, but we’ll undoubtedly grade the above three players’ performances when all games have concluded.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!Sports.com, Nuggets guard Erick Green has reached a one-year contract agreement with Italian team Siena, a “Euroleague power,” as Woj puts it. The article also points out how “Siena has a strong recent history of success with guards” and “has won seven consecutive Italian League championships.” The Nuggets will retain Green’s rights and will likely assess his future role with the team after the upcoming season concludes.
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.
Maybe not, but the intensity on display Wednesday was certainly something different from what we’ve seen in the summer league so far. The Nuggets defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 87-82 in their first “playoff” game in Las Vegas, advancing to the round of 16 in the tournament with their first win in four tries.
The Denver Nuggets fell to 0-2 in summer league play Monday night, losing again by double digits while struggling to find their footing on defense.
Inconsistency is the universal given in summer league, and right now the Nuggets look like an inexperienced team facing too much of it from every direction. Progress was on display on the offensive end, where the Nuggets had more success shooting the ball and creating off the dribble, but much of that was negated by their inability to guard the pick and roll or string together more than a couple possessions of mistake-free defense.
Denver’s small army of summer league coaches was active on Tuesday night, getting a lot of one-on-one time with individual players after frequent breakdowns on both ends of the floor. I found myself lamenting how difficult it must be to stay focused while having a gang of grown men yelling at you after every possession, but ultimately that’s what summer league is all about. It’s a format where coaches are going to live with those mistakes and start the process of creating the right kind of habits.
Once again, it was another sloppy game that didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know. Evan Fournier has looked like a bonafide NBA player while everyone else… hasn’t. Luke Harangody’s reckless all-out effort has been fun, but none of Denver’s bigs have looked passable on defense and outside of Evan, none of the guards have managed to stand out yet either.
I got my first chance to speak with players and coaches after the game and here’s a few storylines to keep an eye on heading into the tournament portion of summer league, which starts on Wednesday.
In the first game of the 2013 Las Vegas summer league, the Denver Nuggets fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in what ended up being a blowout shortly after halftime. While there were a few bright spots, the Nuggets ultimately sealed their fate by shooting a low percentage from the field and giving a halfhearted effort on the defensive side of the ball. But, this is summer league we’re talking about, so those things can be expected.
The Denver Nuggets will kick off summer league action on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, marking their ninth straight year of summer competition in Las Vegas. Interestingly enough, the Nuggets are the winningest franchise in summer league history with a cumulative 24-15 record since the Las Vegas league’s inception in 2004.
Of course part of the magic of summer league is the inescapable truth that records don’t matter. The NBA may be trying to change that with the introduction of a tournament format this year (more on that later), but by and large summer league exists solely as an evaluation tool and a training ground for rookies, fringe NBA talents, and assistant coaches.
This season, the Nuggets are bringing a guard-heavy 16-man roster to the table, with important opportunities up for grabs among several young players with real chances to not only make the roster, but possibly get in line for actual minutes in the upcoming season. Denver is only bringing in five players with NBA experience, but three of those (Miller, Hamilton, and Fournier) are returning from last year’s team and essentially guaranteed roster spots next season. Add in second round pick Erick Green, who is also a virtual lock to be signed, and that means this squad will feature at least four players who will definitely be on the 2013-2014 roster.
Newly-retained assistant Melvin Hunt will coach the team, which will start out with three exhibition games before beginning seeded tournament play on Wednesday. Each team is guaranteed to play at least five games and as many as eight for the two teams that reach the championship round.
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of everyone on the roster and what to watch for when summer league action tips on Saturday night.
For the ninth straight year the Denver Nuggets will participate in the Las Vegas summer league competition. Headlined by Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller and 2013 second-round pick, Erick Green, the Nuggets will trot out yet another highly competitive summer league squad teeming with talent. In addition to those under contract the Nuggets have also invited numerous undrafted players, most notably North Caronlina State’s Richard Howell, Kansas’ Travis Releford, Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody. Former Nuggets draftees not on the roster include 2011 second-round pick Chu Chu Maduabum, 2012 second-round pick Izzet Turkyilmaz and 2013 second-round pick Joffrey Lauvergne. There is no word as to who will be coaching the team at the moment. Competition kicks of Sat., July 13, at 8 p.m.
A look at the rollercoaster year of Nuggets basketball
Hopes were high for the Nuggets at the end of the 2012 offseason, with some analysts predicting up to 59 wins and a top two playoff seed. Masai Ujiri had acquired Olympic gold medalist and star defender Andre Iguodala in a trade, and extended Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee with long-term contracts. He surrounded the team’s young core with veteran Andre Miller and cheap talent like Anthony Randolph and Evan Fournier.
But a difficult early schedule loomed. The Nuggets would play 22 of their first 32 games on the road, including 8 sets of back-to-back games. By the end of November, the team had a pair of four game winning streaks sandwiched in between three losing streaks of three games each, including worrying losses to the lowly Suns and Magic.
The 2013 NBA Draft is officially in the books. After months of disheartening analysis regarding its lack of superstars, the draft took a turn for the wild early on and never reverted back to the uneventful night many had anticipated. The Nuggets were active, trading last year’s starting center Kosta Koufos to the Memphis Grizzlies for Darrell Arthur. Additionally, Denver traded out of the 27th pick to ultimately possess the 46th and 55th picks instead. Here’s what the Nuggets’ draft puzzle looked like at the end of the night…
As many of you already know, writing about the NBA draft is one my favorite aspects of covering the Nuggets. And I’m not just a casual fan who watches YouTube clips on a handful of players slated to drop in the Nuggets’ range come June. I really do love the draft. Throughout the entire season I’m listening to podcasts, watching real games (imagine that!) and exercising my free ESPN INsider account to read every single bit of news and information Chad Ford posts about each year’s draft class. I don’t know why, but I’m nearly obsessed with the process. This year I haven’t had time to go as in depth as I would have liked due to the constant barrage of hirings and firings that have taken place within the Nuggets organization over the last month, but I’ll try and get you as up to date as I can on the guys I like.