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 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.
According to ESPN Denver’s Chris Bianchi, the Denver Nuggets — or more specifically, Brian Shaw — will retain former George Karl assistant, Melvin Hunt, as a new assistant on his staff. This is the first reported member of Shaw’s coaching staff to be revealed to the public. Bianchi is also reporting Hunt will coach the Nuggets’ summer league team in Las Vegas. For those fans (like me) who’ve admired Hunt from afar, this news will certainly be classified in the “good” category.
ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that “Lionel Hollins will interview with the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, according to a source.”
Earlier this week, Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reported that the Pacers and the Grizzlies had, respectively, granted the Nuggets permission to talk to Brian Shaw and Hollins in their pursuit to find a replacement for fired head coach George Karl. (more…)
According to Philly.com’s John Mitchell, the Denver Nuggets are “believed to be interested in promoting [Melvin] Hunt to replace George Karl.” Mitchell is also reporting the 76ers are interested in Hunt for their current head coaching vacancy. This is the first time Hunt’s name has been mentioned in connection with Denver’s search for a new head coach since George Karl was fired last week.
Thanks to adidas Basketball, ESPN and the TrueHoop network, I’ve been given the opportunity to cover the 2012 adidas Nations for Roundball Mining Company. For those unfamiliar with the adidas Nations, it’s a global tournament for the best players under 19, both here in the USA and internationally. It’s one of the most prestigious grassroots basketball programs in the world, where top high school talent and some of the best collegiate players in the country train under real NBA coaches.
There are a ton of Denver Nuggets connections in this year’s adidas Nations currently taking place in Southern California. Along with all of the other NBA teams, Denver’s scouting department has a strong presence here and Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt is part of the core group of NBA coaches instructing the college counselors as well as the high school athletes in attendance. Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo joins Alec Burks, Nolan Smith, Luc Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison as some of the adidas athletes who will act as NBA ambassadors to the program.
This is an exciting event featuring a ridiculous amount of talent from the next three NBA draft classes, and I strongly encourage any hoops fan to watch the championship game on Monday night, which will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network at 6pm Mountain time. RMC will be on hand to provide coverage throughout the event.
Here’s a few of the highlights from day one of the 2012 adidas Nations. (more…)