The Knicks' Chris Smith (44), J.R.'s younger brother, found out about the physical brand of basketball Evan Fournier (94) likes to play.
Summer League is over and the Nuggets finished just 1-4, but we got to see extended looks at Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, and Quincy Miller. The young guys that will be playing in Denver, for hopefully, years to come. So, what did we learn about them?
First up, Mr. French and I'm not talking about Sebastian Cabot. (Could that be the all-time obscure reference on Denver Stiffs?)
What did we learn about Fournier?
Well, he wore number 94 to represent his hometown's (Saint Maurice) area code, he likes to wear a scraggly, but well groomed beard (unlike the bird nest of James Harden), and he's not afraid to ask question on Twitter.
But what about his actual game?
Fournier worked on his outside shooting a lot in Las Vegas. He went 11-30 from long range in five games to shoot 36.6% from deep. After reading that he only shot 29% from long-range last season in France, this is great to see. The thing that impressed me most about his outside shot, was how squared up he gets and how almost every shot looks the same. Fournier didn't just shoot threes from the corner either and he took a few late in the shot clock too. He wasn't hesitant or afraid to fire away, just what NBA coaches want players to do.
I was hoping he wouldn't get too comfortable on the outside. Young players can get intimidated by the physical brand of hoops in the NBA and become just jump shooters. This was not Fournier. He attacked the hoop, at times, and figured out how to get to the foul line, by being aggressive. He went 19-23 at the foul line (82.6%) and displayed a nice calmness and stroke from the charity stripe. Fournier also tries to finish every shot attempt when he feels contact. He's not so much looking to just get to the foul line, he's actually looking for And-1 opportunities. Once he adds some strength and figures out a little more of the inside NBA game, he should become a very dangerous slasher. He even pulled off a nice tear-drop shot in Denver's first game against the Warriors.
Fours averaged 14.8 points per game, never scored less than 10 points in a game, and saved his best two games for last as he dropped 18 points on the Bobcats and 17 points on the Blazers. He is still developing at just 19 years-old, but he looks way ahead of the curve as an offensive player. George Karl likes his team to shoot threes and get to the rim, it would appear that he should like Fournier.
Fournier wasted little time on the defensive end becoming an NBA player ... he was right at home arguing calls with the referees! Fours played some nice on-ball defense and was even rewarded with a few steals out in Vegas, and one against the Warriors that resulted in a breakaway dunk. He had at least one steal in every game and totaled 6 steals in five games. His length, 6'7'', allows him to bother shots on the perimeter and get to steals. He likes to gamble on defense, just a little, but can quickly cover ground to get back into position. The Nuggets like a high-risk/high-reward defense and he should have little problem getting used to Denver's style.
Fournier will have to deal with lots of screens in the NBA and a whole lot of pick-and-roll defense. As his body matures he'll become stronger to fight through screens. He is used to hand-checking and must break himself of that habit of the overseas game. His over-aggressive style led to 29 personal fouls. He picked up 5 fouls in Denver's first game, 3 in game two, and 7 fouls a piece in games three, four, and five. Now, the refs in Vegas were not the best around, but ... who am I kidding ... the refs are awful at all NBA levels. Fournier will need to adjust his game to fit the NBA style and he's so young that he should adjust quickly. But don't be surprised when he's in the game to see a very aggressive defender and a guy capable of igniting fast-breaks with some timely steals.
Will he play?
I could see Karl playing Fournier in blowouts and when he's needed to fill in for an injury, but other than that ... one can't be sure how Karl will use the rookie. I have no doubt that Fours could be an asset to the team this season, as his game at the shooting guard spot is pretty unique for these Nuggets. But with Arron Afflalo and Andre Miller likely to eat up the bulk of minutes at the two, don't expect to see a lot of Mr. French.
I really was impressed with Fournier and think he'll be a great fit in Denver.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter https://twitter.com/Nate_Timmons