On Monday, the Denver Nuggets announced their Las Vegas Summer League roster, and if you (like me) were hoping to get a first look at 16th overall pick Jusuf Nurkic you're going to be disappointed. Due to a conflict made to his home country of Bosnia's basketball program, he'll be missing out on the Vegas festivities. Also missing from the Nuggets' summer league roster is 2014 second round pick Nikola Jokic - whose Serbian national team did qualify for the 2014 World Cup but Jokic didn't make the team - and 2013 second round pick Joffrey Lauvergne of France, who is playing for France's 2014 World Cup team.
Included on the roster, however, is Nurkic's fellow rookie Gary Harris - the Michigan State standout that the Nuggets presumably stole with the 19th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. And other than Harris, notable players on the roster are third year pro Quincy Miller and 2013 second round draft pick Erick Green, who has been playing in Italy as recently profiled by our very own Nate Timmons.
Here's a quick rundown on the Nuggets' 2014 summer league roster. One thing our readers should note is that the listed heights here are often inflated above what they are in real life (having watched a number of summer league games and training camp practices live, it never ceases to amaze me just how much shorter these guys are in person than what their "listed" heights are) ...
Center, 7'1", 250 lbs, 26 years old, Florida State University
Born in Nigeria, Alabi actually had a taste of the NBA when he appeared in 26 total games for the Toronto Raptors between 2010 and 2012. It's hard to believe that a 7'1", 250-pound center like Alabi can't find a permanent home in the NBA, but such is life on the fringes of the NBA. After bouncing in and out of the NBA and NBDL in recent seasons, he last played for Yulon Luxgen in Taiwan.
Forward, 6'8", 245 pounds, 22 years old, Towson
A transfer from Georgetown in 2011, Benimon led Towson to the greatest single-season turnaround in NCAA Division I history when the Towson Tigers followed up a 1-31 season with an 18-13 record in 2012-13 once Benimon joined the team. Benimon is currently playing alongside NCAA champion Shabazz Napier for the Miami Heat's Orlando summer league team and through two games is averaging just 3.5 ppg on 33% shooting.
Forward, 6'10", 250 pounds, 25 years old, James Madison
After Bowles left James Madison in 2011, he embarked on an international basketball journey that has included stops in Lithuania, China, Philippines and most recently Iowa with the NBDL's Iowa Energy, the Nuggets D-League affiliate through last season.
Guard, 6'5", 216 pounds, 24 years old, Colorado
Brown will certainly be a sentimental favorite among Colorado basketball fans to secure a spot on the Nuggets' training camp roster, but like most Vegas summer league participants he'll be a longshot. After leaving CU in 2012, the undrafted Brown played in the D-League for a few years before more recently joining pro teams in Israel and Greece. In fact, while in Israel Brown led the league in scoring for Hapoel Tel Aviv, a team that plays in the same league as current Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt's former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Forward, 6'8", 220 pounds, 23 years old, Kent State
After a standout junior year at Kent State, Evans latched onto the Sacramento Kings 2013 summer league roster but wasn't able to stay on. According to SB Nation's Hustle Belt site, Evans might be three inches shorter than his listed 6'8".
Guard, 6'4", 185 pounds, 23 years old, Virginia Tech
As mentioned above, our own Nate Timmons recently profiled Green - the Nuggets' 2013 second round pick - and his whereabouts. When Green was drafted, Nuggets fans were elated to get a former NCAA Division I scoring leader and former ACC Player of the Year with a second round pick, but due to an overcrowded roster the Nuggets encouraged Green to play overseas which he did all last season. Along with Harris and Miller, Green will be the most watched Nugget during summer league play to see if he has a chance at cracking the Nuggets roster this fall ... but with the arrival of Harris, Green is likely a longshot and will be sent overseas again.
Guard, 6'4", 195 pounds, 25 years old, Morehead State
Kenneth Faried's college teammate at Morehead State, Harper actually played for the Nuggets summer league squad in 2012. Having spent last season playing professionally in Belarus, Harper is probably heading back there or back to the D-League after the summer league festivities are over.
Guard, 6'4", 200 pounds, 19 years old, Michigan State
With the aforementioned Nurkic remaining in Bosnia this summer, all eyes will be on the Nuggets other first round draft selection in Harris during Las Vegas summer league. Presumed by many experts to be "the steal" of the 2014 NBA Draft, the 19th-selected Harris will be logging ample minutes in Vegas as Nuggets fans and management alike hope he can live up to the promise that many forecasted him to have in advance of the 2014 NBA Draft.
Guard, 5'9", 170 pounds, 22 years old, Metropolitan State
Another sentimental favorite among Colorado basketball fans, Jefferson broke the single-season scoring record at Metro as a senior and, as profiled by the Denver Post's Chris Dempsey recently, believes he can crack an NBA roster despite his 5'9" frame. Obviously, Jefferson impressed Nuggets management enough to even get invited to the summer league roster and he could be a fan favorite in Vegas.
Forward, 6'8", 260 pounds, 22 years old, Saint Joseph's
Kanacevic is the only player in Saint Joeseph's history to record over 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 blocks in his college career. And yet like so many other solid college players on his caliber, he didn't get drafted in 2013 ... showing yet again just how incredibly hard it is to get to the NBA.
Guard, 6'6", 220 pounds, 26 years old, Ohio State
Despite a standout career at Ohio State, Lighty went undrafted when eligible in 2011. Lighty most recently played professionally and France and is currently playing on Detroit's team in the Orlando summer league.
Guard, 6'2", 170 pounds, 26 years old, Goshen College
The older brother of the Portland Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum and former Nugget Kosta Koufos' high school teammate, the elder McCollum has been playing professionally in both Israel and Greece since starring at tiny Goshen College from 2006-2010.
Forward, 6'10", 230 pounds, 21 years old, Baylor University
It might be put up or shut up time for my man Quincy Miller, who has been an eager learner, a hard worker and has shown great character since joining the Nuggets in 2012 as a second round pick. But only $150,000 of Miller's $915,000 salary is guaranteed for the 2014-15 season and with the additions of Nurkic, Harris and Arron Afflalo, the Nuggets already crowded roster is getting more so. Here's hoping Miller has an awesome summer league that catapults him onto the full time roster come late October.
Center, 6'10", 260 pounds, 25 years old, Germany
Playing for Detroit's Orlando summer league team along with Lighty, the German born Ohlbrecht actually appeared in three games for the Houston Rockets in 2013 and has been playing recently in the NBDL. And had Germany qualified for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Ohlbrecht would likely have been playing beside his countryman Dirk Nowitzki.
Forward, 6'7", 230 pounds, 28 years old, George Mason
Since leaving George Mason's famous Final Four cinderella team in 2008, Thomas has played all over the world - literally. After stints in Belgium, Georgia, Turkey and Italy, Thomas is hoping to find a professional home in the US.
Guard, 6'1", 210 pounds, 24 years old, Georgetown
The undrafted Wright played three games for the Dallas Mavericks in 2013 but wasn't able to hang on to a permanent roster spot. He has since played professionally in Puerto Rico and France.
As we've seen in years past, fans shouldn't read too much into summer league roster participants. But every now and then a player surprises us and makes it onto the team's roster after training camp (just as former Nugget Dahntay Jones did), so it's worth taking a look at all of these hard-working players and giving them the opportunity to impress us!