When Evan Fournier came to the Denver Nuggets in 2012, he couldn't even walk into a LoDo bar and order a glass of wine as a 19 year-old. The Frenchman also could barely understand a lick of English. At his introductory press conference, the 20th overall pick sat with fellow rookies Quincy Miller (38th pick) and Izzet Turkyilmaz (50th pick, Nuggets still own his rights). The questions being peppered in by the media, started being directed to just Miller, as the language barrier with both Fours and Izzet was obvious.
But a quick study, Fournier was already improving his English at Summer League and by the time the season and the following season rolled along - he was totally fluent (even with some great cussing that was picked up on the floor and in the locker room).
Fournier was easy to like. Always accommodating, but he could get rattled during an interview if his friend and fellow teammate Quincy Miller barged in to give him a hard time ... or if assistant coach Patrick Mutombo came over and started playing the roll of reporter (fake recorder in his hand, shoved under Evan's chin). But Evan gave and good as he received, often getting Q back during his own interview sessions.
Evan also was really finding a home in Denver. From our "Getting to know" piece ...
What's something about Colorado that you've enjoyed during your time here?
Fournier: The people. People are very friendly. In my neighborhood, everybody knows me and everybody talks to me. Like for my birthday, they gave me hats, T-shirts, and other things. I really like it. Where I'm from in Paris - you don't see those kind of people; it's busy, it's busy people, and they don't have the time to stop and talk to you. So, I really enjoy it here.
The best part about Evan was how hard he was willing to work. He'd often stay after practice and get up shots at the far end of the floor, on his own or with teammates. Andre Miller seemed to take him under his wing on the practice floor - the two would often shoot together and Dre once told me he was impressed with Evan's work ethic. Andre wasn't a big talker with the media, so when he did speak, it was important. Before games, you'd always find Evan out on the game floor. As the media assembled to talk, pregame, to George Karl and then this past season to Brian Shaw, you'd see Fournier heading out to the main floor to get some shots up.
Evan played nearly three times as many minutes from his rookie season (428 minutes) to his second season (1,503), but he was still searching for consistency in his game. Not uncommon for a kid that had just turned 21 years-old on Oct. 31st. Fournier looked quite comfortable on the offensive end - he could get to the rim, move well without the ball, and was practically a lock when he shot threes (40.7% his rookie season and 37.6% last season). On the defensive end, Fournier struggled a bit. He went from 1.7 fouls per game to 2.4 last season. He played aggressive defense, but often used his hands and got whistled for it plenty. The NBA game is a bit different and Fournier is still learning his role.
I hope Fournier finds huge success in Orlando. Tim Connelly has said in order to make a trade, you often have to give something up you like. The Nuggets gave up a promising young player that conducts himself in the right way. It's my hope that he continues to grow and helps the Magic, he deserves it.
Waiting at the airport. On my way to Orlando see ya Denver! pic.twitter.com/BLKFlgwAnY— More Champagne (@EvanFourmizz) June 30, 2014