With the news that Danilo Gallinari has torn two ankle ligaments and will likely miss a month (and perhaps the remainder of the season), the Nuggets find themselves in need of another small forward. JaKarr Sampson is a willing defender but his offensive game is sub-par, making it hard for him to replace Denver's leading scorer. The Nuggets played him for 30 minutes in last night's loss to the Grizzlies, and that kind of usage can't continue. the excellent Shams Charania, the Nuggets are looking at alternatives, including one Axel Toupane.
Denver plans to sign Toronto 905 forward Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 1, 2016
Chris Reichert, D-League guru, gives Toupane a few dozen approving characters while also semi-slamming another injured Nuggets.
Often drawing the assignment opposite opposing point guards – he was the primary defender in Jimmer Fredette’s 4-of-21 shooting night two weeks ago – Toupane has the lateral quickness to hang with guards and the strength in the lower half to hold his own on the block, at least against the power-three type of forwards. He’s only listed at 200 pounds, so the Nuggets may opt to keep him on the perimeter, where is 6-foot-10.25 wingspan creates serious issues for opposing ball-handlers. At the very least, he’ll be able to switch on to pick-and-pop fours as the pick-and-roll defense dictates, something he’s done to strong effect against stretchy bigs like Nick Minnerath recently.
A 23 year old native of France, Toupane fits right in with the international flavor of Denver's roster. Toupane put up 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the D-League, and his assist game was reasonably strong at 3.6. He hits his free throws (78.6%) and shot 32% from 3 in very limited attempts, but as the article points out he's been leading the second unit as its primary ball-handler and improving throughout the year.
He sure looks like another shot at getting a long wing defender who can score a little more than Sampson and can keep the ball moving for the bench, and these are the sorts of looks the Nuggets should be taking as they go through this next month without Gallinari.
Welcome to Denver, Axel Toupane. I'm sure Joffrey Lauvergne will take you out on the town as soon as you arrive.