Before we get to the game, if you've ever considered going to Las Vegas for Summer League ... you should do it. I got a chance to catch up with Kim Hughes (a former Nuggets player from 1978-80 and assistant coach), Josh Kroenke, Masai Ujiri, George Karl, and Melvin Hunt. Sitting with Karl, Kroenke, Ujiri, and Chandler was Arron Afflalo and free agent Anthony Randolph. I asked Kroenke what Randolph was doing sitting with them and he told me, just a lot of people here.
And Kroenke is right. OJ Mayo was on hand and I witnessed former Nuggets beat reporter Marc Spears pick his brain just before he sent a Tweet saying Mayo was drawing interest from the Lakers, Bulls, Suns, and Mavericks. I've always been a big fan of Spears' work and was lucky enough to attend a game with him back when I was in college -- to see the world of an NBA beat reporter. Also on hand, former Nuggets star Nick Van Exel (who came over to talk with Hughes), Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, Warriors coach Mark Jackson, Rockets coach Kevin McHale, Raptors coach Dwyane Casey and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, and many more.
This NBA Nerd was at Disneyland for the day, the hoops version. I also got to hang out for a bit with Charlie from Roundball Mining Company, fun talking Nuggets with him and he alerted me to the fact that Julyan Stone wasn't on the court ... no wonder the Nuggets' offense looked so lost. I was so busy seeing NBA faces that I forgot about Stone, a key guy I was looking forward to watching ...
... on to the game after the jump.
I liked the ball pressure that rookie Evan Fournier displayed. He came up with a couple quick early steals and one led to a fast-break dunk. He didn't hesitate to shoot the ball and even buried his first three-pointer of the day, but when on to miss his next four.
His first NBA action came today and he described his performance. "It wasn't bad, of course I was disappointed we lost, but I know I can do a lot better." said Fournier.
His defense on the ball was impressive, but I wanted to know what he is going to be working to do on the offensive end. "Make a shot. I missed a couple threes and I'm not happy about that. I'm just getting used to the way we play." said Fournier. And defensively, "I can do better, I was just getting warmed up." said Fournier.
Fournier was looking to make cuts, without the ball, to the hoop and with the ball, he was looking to attack. He likes to draw contact on his drives, but was bodied a bit more than he might be used to today. He did have a pretty tear drop shot that showed people why he mirrors his game after Manu Ginobili. His ability to finish in the lane might be the way he forces his way onto the floor some day. Very interested to see more of Fours, he finished the game 3-8 shooting for 10 points.
The Nuggets' offense was sending two wings into the corners every time down the floor. Fournier, Quincy Miller, and Jordan Hamilton all took turns in that position on offense. Hamilton, one of the "veterans" on this summer squad, led the team in scoring with 18 points. He worked on his long range game, 2-5 from deep, his floaters around the paint, and had a thunderous dunk that showed off his improved leaping ability.
Being the veteran, he wasn't terribly happy about how his team played. "It was fun in the first half," said Hamilton. "The second half we kind of took a beating, we missed some shots we should have made. Once we get in the lane we got to make some better decisions. I think tomorrow will be a much better day."
Hamilton had some ice on his left wrist after the game, but nothing that should bother him the rest of the week.
Kenneth Faried wasn't available to talk to the media, he left the locker room area with trainer Steve Hess and Faried said on his way out that his back tightened up on him a little bit. He should be able to keep playing, but we'll find out tomorrow if he does. He finished 4-15 from the field for 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. Two of his blocks came back-to-back and got the crowd on their feet.
Faried didn't take too many jumpers and was trying to beat people to the rim and explode over them, versus getting in the post and making some moves there. We'll see what he does with the next four games in Vegas.
Quincy Miller played 21 minutes and had an up-and-down performance. He finished 3-8 shooting for 6 points and displayed some nice rebounding and shooting touch. He disappeared a bit on offense, just waiting around on the outside and it'd be nice to see him mix it up inside. He also had the ball stolen from him when he attempted to drive the lane and go one on two. Still adjusting for Miller and we'll see how he responds the rest of the week.
Izzet Turkyilmaz displayed some shooting touch. The skinny rookie went 2-3 on the day and hit a long jumper. He was shooting threes before the second half and took one in the game, the crowd let out an, "Aww" when it didn't go in. He has some skills, but plays on the perimeter a bit too much right now. He also had some post moves, but the strong bodies might be discouraging him.
Got a chance to visit with Chu Chu Maduabum a bit. He said of Bismack Biyombo and his budding rivalry via Twitter, "He called me out too. He called me on the phone. I still told him I was going to go at him. When I saw him yesterday he told me, 'Get ready, it's going to be war.'" Chu Chu will wait to see how summer league plays out before deciding where to play next season.
The Players on Las Vegas:
"It has been all basketball. We haven't even got a chance to see the city yet. We're too tired, we've got two a days ... it's all running." said Maduabum.
Fournier, had this to say about not being able to gamble in Vegas, "I don't care man, I'm here for the basketball." said Evan Fournier with a laugh.
And Hamilton plans to take it easy in Vegas. "Just hang out in my room. My mom and dad get here today. I got a kitchen in there and I'm going to have them cook some food up and just hang out."