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.
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 preliminary round of summer league concluded on Tuesday night, with the Golden State Warriors clinching a top seed and first-round bye in the upcoming tournament. On the other end of the spectrum were the Denver Nuggets, who went into the evening ranked dead last in the seeding and further cemented themselves there after getting thrashed by the Washington Wizards.
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.
Q: Which players have the Nuggets signed for 2013-14, and what are their total combined salaries?
A: Based on the latest reported offers, the Nuggets have $60.3 million dedicated to 13 players: Lawson, A. Miller, Foye, Fournier, Hamilton, Gallinari, Chandler, Q. Miller, Faried, Hickson, Arthur, McGee, and Randolph. (Foye and Hickson cannot officially be signed until July 10.) The salary cap is $58.6 million.
Q: Can the Nuggets still sign players even though they’re over the cap?
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.
For the third year in a row Roundball Mining Company has arranged an off-season priority list for the Denver Nuggets. The following items are arranged from least to most important. They are moves which the Nuggets would greatly benefit from, yet none are mandatory. After winning 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year, it’s safe to assume Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri will do everything in his power to improve the Nuggets once again — that is, as long as he’s still around.
After falling behind by double digits early, the Nuggets turned up the energy and outworked a tired Rockets team, outscoring them by 28 points over the last three quarters to win easily.
Well everyone, it’s that time of year. Late February. And you know exactly what that means. It means the NBA trade deadline is approaching; therefore, all our wildest dream scenarios about acquiring LeBron James for pennies on the dollar are on the brink of coming to fruition. OK, so maybe that’s not exactly correct. Maybe it’s the furthest thing from the truth. But here at RMC we’ll be damned to be robbed of our totally unrealistic trade fantasies. So despite Adrian Wojnarowski’s recent tweet about the Nuggets being “unlikely to make a deal,” we’ve decided to ride on into the blue and yellow sunset with visionary trade talk firmly on our minds, which we’re happy to share with you in our latest 5-on-5.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 24 MIN | 1-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 7 PTS | +3
Gallo has been about as inconsistent as you can be to start the season. In seven of the last 10 games he’s scored under 10 points four times and over 20 three times. His shooting stroke seems to be the root of his problems. When he’s hitting shots, everything is great; when he’s not, he’s virtually useless. Gallo is so talented in so many ways, which makes it all the more frustrating seeing him pigeonhole himself into a one-dimensional shooter’s role.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Faried is another enigma on the season. He didn’t have a bad game but he started off on pace to have an epic one — then it was as if his motor ran out of gas in only five minutes time. This is becoming quite the trend with Faried. His energy just isn’t what it was most of last year.
|Kosta Koufos, C 27 MIN | 8-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Koufos was the Nuggets’ best player. That’s basically all you need to know to figure out how this game ended. He’s been steadily improving throughout the year and is now legitimately giving McGee a run for his money as to who’s the best center on the team. His defense and toughness were especially impressive against the Clippers.
|Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | -8
It’s hard to dock Lawson too much as he was one of the only players actually trying to make something happen. His passes need to be more precise but other than that he was pretty solid.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 27 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -1
I still can’t figure this one out. Anybody know what the deal is with Iguodala? Please, share your secret because right now I’m dumbfounded. I knew Nuggets fans overvalued him from the start but I really thought he’d be a lot more impressive than what he’s shown thus far. Against the Clippers he was nearly lifeless. His nine points were a result of easy fast-break points, and that’s about all he did.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 4 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
He’s clearly talented. He’s played well this season and had a few nice buckets against the Clippers.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 17 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Hamilton was the second best player tonight (maybe the best?) and tied Koufos for the team lead in points despite having played only 17 minutes. If this was not a “wake up” game for Karl and the rest of his teammates, then I don’t know what is. Hamilton played with confidence against the Clippers and it showed. Not only was he scoring at a rate which none of his teammates could match, but his decision-making and vision were in top form. He made some nice passes and didn’t make the “rookie” mistakes he’s been known to fall victim to. The fact is: On nights like this, when nobody is stepping up to score, Hamilton is a great option to play 30-plus minutes because scoring is all he knows.
|Quincy Miller, SF 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Miller had a few nice dishes and played good defense. As always, I’d love to see what he could do with a few games of solid playing time.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -29
Brewer was just not on. He’ll have games like this every now and then where he’s totally MIA.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Mozgov got hit in the face with the ball because he couldn’t handle the speed of a pass. That’s all I remember from his run.
|JaVale McGee, C 19 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -23
The stats don’t tell just how frustrating this game was from a fan’s standpoint. McGee made numerous decisions (mostly passes) where I couldn’t even begin to understand what he was trying to do. He also had several incredible blocks and nice post-ups, but I could not escape how bad his decisions were on this night.
|Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 12 PTS | -14
Miller started off the game great with lots of aggressions but seemed to fade as it went on. Still, it’s nice having someone who gets up for big games on a consistent basis.
|Evan Fournier, SG 4 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
Fournier was impressive as usual. Not a lot of time, but he made the most of it.
Many players received bad grades tonight so it doesn’t make much sense to reward Karl. He’s the one who devises this skewed game-plan of being satisfied with playing like crap on the road as long as you can win most of your home games. While the Nuggets have had a tough road schedule, I still don’t understand how a team this deep and talented can be happy with a 7-13 road record. On a different (but similar) note, I ran into my old high school soccer coach a few days ago and he said he hates watching the Nuggets because they always have an excuse to lose. While the Clippers are on one hell of a tear these days, I can’t help but think Karl deemed this loss as considered “OK.”
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 26 MIN | 6-9 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +19
Gallo’s aggression to start the game really set the tone for what ended up being one of the better wins of the season. He continues to improve and score in a quiet but effective manner.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +27
Faried’s energy was where it has been most of the year; however, his minutes aren’t. Faried has endured a slump recently and it just so happens to come at a time when Karl has begun to limit his minutes. Odd.
|Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +24
Koufos played good defense — that’s what matters most. He was often in the right place at the right time to finish plays, which resulted in a nice stat line, but his solid play on the defensive side of the ball is what stood out most.
|Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS | +23
Lawson did a great job of pushing the pace. He hit a few big shots, but this was a night where his control of the Nuggets’ tempo shined most.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 28 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 8 AST | 11 PTS | +28
The points weren’t necessarily there but this was one of Iguodala’s best games in a while. He doesn’t always have to score, but he needs to be aggressive with the ball in his hands at all times. He did that against the Kings and it really showed in the form of several highlight plays and an overall excellent performance from his team.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 7 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -2
Randolph was great in his limited time. He’s had somewhat of an interesting reputation as a selfish player over the course of his career but that was nowhere to be seen against the Kings. He made all the right decisions and had a few very impressive offensive possessions.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 23 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | -1
Hamilton was incredible in the first half — where all his points were scored. During one stretch he scored 12 straight points for the Nuggets. This hot shooting abruptly ended in the second half where he missed every shot he took. Hamilton has an enormous amount of talent but seems to only have one gear: score. If he can learn to shift every now and then he’ll be much better off.
|Quincy Miller, SF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 PTS | -1
This was Miller’s first appearance in a Nuggets uniform. It was brief and pretty inconclusive.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +3
This was one of Brewer’s less impressive games in recently memory. It might be a small sample size but he doesn’t seem to fit well with Hamilton when they’re on the floor together. Brewer just seemed totally off his game against the Kings.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -6
Mozgov is definitely showing much more confidence in his game this year. He’s still a step slow sometimes but he appears to finally be adjusting to the pace of the NBA.
|JaVale McGee, C 21 MIN | 7-9 FG | 5-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +7
McGee was insane. He had three dunks in a row in the first half that nobody else in the NBA could execute. His skill level and potential were on display throughout the game and it was quite the sight to see. I really cannot stress just how impressive he was in the first half.
|Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 0-1 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | +9
Miller was a total dud. After Lawson set the pace he immediately came in and killed what momentum the Nuggets had built up. This is somewhat of a reoccurring theme with Miller. He simply does not run the way his teammates do. He’s always looking for the easy outlet pass and if it’s not there he meanders up the court like he’s on a sightseeing excursion. Miller is no doubt an important member of the Nuggets and a great locker-room presence to have, but he has to buy into what the Nuggets are trying to do a bit more on offense.
|Evan Fournier, SG 12 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -5
Fournier looked great. You can tell he’s a smart basketball player with a gift for playing the game the right way and getting his teammates involved. It’s going to quite interesting seeing just how good he can be with a heavy dose of minutes.
After less than a month in the D-League, the Nuggets have announced that Quincy Miller has been recalled from the team affiliate, Iowa Energy. In his three-game stint Miller averaged 14 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. All of Miller’s performances can be seen for free on the D-League’s YouTube channel, which I have posted below.
In a move that should surprise nobody, the Nuggets have announced that Quincy Miller has been assigned to the D-League’s Iowa Energy. Miller has not seen a minute of court time with the Nuggets this year. In fact, I’m not even sure if he’s dressed for a game up to this point. Every cut away I’ve seen with Miller in it, he’s usually wearing a suit. Regardless, this is a good move by the Nuggets. It will be interesting seeing how Miller reacts to this opportunity. If nothing else, he should view this as a growing experience and unexpected confidence builder. Stay tuned as RMC will keep you updated on his status throughout his campaign in Iowa.
Funny how things work in life. A mere three months ago Evan Fournier was the pariah of Nuggets Nation before even stepping foot on the court wearing blue and yellow. Then when he actually did, you know, start playing basketball — people come around. And fast.