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Denver Nuggets Hold Open Scrimmage For Kids At Denver South High School

The Denver Nuggets pulled out all the stops on Saturday. The best part of it? They did it for kids as the team held an open scrimmage at Denver South High School for the Jr. Nuggets and Boys and Girls Club of Denver.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

One major difference with pro sports in relation to a standard business is they have an offseason and preseason where the stakes, and the financial opportunities, are relatively limited.  While some times this means a detriment to us fans (pre-season basketball not being televised) it also provides for opportunities for the organization to hold events like the open scrimmage they held at Denver South High School on Saturday.  An event that had no financial motives whatsoever and was simply a cool way to show some appreciation for the community and the most important fans of all: kids.

The best part about the event is the intimate setting.  Denver South’s gym is no different than any other high school gym so even the worst seat in the house would probably run you over $100 at the Pepsi Center and if you got there early and snagged a seat up front then you were likely to be closer to the action than you would be with a courtside seat at The Can.  The event started off with a simple enough stretching and warm up session.  Now, when I say simple enough I mean simple enough for professional athletes.  I likely would have thrown up about three times just in the stretching portion.  Again though, this was another cool part about the intimate setting.  You got to see the players going through their workout close up, so close you could hear every word of encouragement and instruction coming from strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess’ mouth.  Jusuf Nurkic worked off on the side on his own and curiously, Erick Green was also not participating in the warmup or the scrimmage.

The Nuggets did a really excellent job of making the scrimmage feel like a real game.  PA announcer Kyle Speller went into player introductions for both the Blue and White teams with the same enthusiasm as he would a regular season game which was just one of many ways the organization didn’t skimp on the details.  They also brought along the new drum line, the dunk squad, the Denver Nuggets Dancers and yes, super mascot Rocky (totally stiffed me on a high five).  What was even more refreshing was this wasn’t just some high flying dunk fest (save for the dunk squad...see below) where no one was playing defense, no, the players got after it and played hard the entire game and offered up some highlights along the way.

DunkSquad

I don’t want to put any stock in how the guys played during a scrimmage at the local high school but I had a few observations.  First and foremost, Nikola Jokic continues to look good, check out below where he had a sweet behind the back fake to floater move on a fastbreak as well as some nice work on the glass.

Jokic on the offensive glass

Jokic on the fast break

Emmanuel Mudiay also looked more in control.  I don’t think this is any indication of marked improvement from a week ago but I do think it’s encouraging because it lends to the theory that Mudiay’s preliminary issues with turnovers are most likely a result of nerves.  In a scrimmage at a local high school his mistakes were much farther and fewer in between.  He also took a nice feed from Matt Janning and threw it down with authority.

Mudiay Slam!

Stiffs writers' favorite Oleisky Pecherov is a lumbering beast of a man.  Yet, for as huge as he is, he has a surprisingly nice touch.  Pecherov can knock down a jumper with solid effectiveness and has range out to the three point line.  His athleticism though is virtually non-existent (I say virtually because the guy can still out run the likes of me any day of the week) and that was very evident in the video below where he showed off his 1" vertical.

PECHEROVVVV!!!

Faried looked very Faried.  He had some nice work on the offensive glass, was giving max effort like everyone else (including on defense) and threw down a nice dunk which you can see below.

Faried Slam

Gary Harris gave us a pretty nice up close view of his shooting stroke, as did Nick Johnson.  I was watching Harris a lot during warm-ups and throughout the game.  He does seem to have improved his shooting from last year but again like Mudiay it's hard to tell if that's because of actual improvement or because of the fact that this was a scrimmage and not a real game.  Ultimately with so many rookies and second year players on the team we won't really know what we've got until we start seeing them logging regular season minutes.  On a side note though, do you want to know a good measuring stick on the Nuggets long term competitiveness?  Pay attention to how many Denver representatives there are at the Rising Stars Challenge this season, if things are going phenomenal that could be as many as four.

Johnson steps in for long two

Harris for three

Danilo Gallinari unfortunately didn’t provide any sweet highlights but I did notice he is a vocal guy on the court.  Being so close to the action you could hear everything the guys were saying to each other and Gallo was consistently communicating with the other players on the team.  Wilson Chandler was bringing his all-around game as usual and I even saw a Mike Miller three (by the way Mike looks like he’s pretty much in game shape) and the only unfortunate moment was Randy Foye getting hurt during the scrimmage, however Nuggets PR let us know it was just a minor tweak of the hamstring and Foye should be just fine.

The White team ultimately took the victory in the scrimmage behind the dominant scoring performance from Pecherov, 60-48 and it really wasn’t even that close.  Realistically though I don’t think anyone was paying much attention to the score as it was more about the event as a whole.  After the scrimmage the players hung around to give out autographs to all the kids.  Mudiay and Jokic were two of the players who hung around the longest to sign, with Mudiay of course getting the most attention from the fans.

Hats off to the entire Nuggets organization for the event.  You could tell they were striving to make the game feel as authentic as possible, which is easy to say but it’s tough to get that type of buy in across the board.  The fact that everyone from the players, to the coaches, to all the behind the scenes people put so much effort towards a pre-season scrimmage shows the type of organizational culture they are establishing,  and by placing it in a setting like Denver South High School they gave all these kids a once in a lifetime experience.  Last week I wrote about a training camp in 1994 that hooked me on the Nuggets for life and I can’t help but wonder how many kids got hooked on the Nuggets for life on Saturday.

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Reminder: Stiffs Night Out Season Kickoff 10/28

Please join us for the next Stiffs Night Out on Wednesday, October 28th at 6pm as the Nuggets take on the Rockets in Houston to kickoff the 2015-16 NBA season. The event will take place at Jake's Sports & Spirits at 3800 Walnut Street and Jake's will be serving happy hour drinks until 7pm and 50-cent wings all night long! We will also play Nuggets trivia for prizes, including Nuggets game tickets. See you on the 28th!

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