After a 2-1 start to NBA Las Vegas Summer League, the Denver Nuggets will now enter the tournament round of the event. The team has qualified for the 4th seed out of 24 competing teams, and after earning a first round bye, Jamal Murray and the rest of the Nuggets will look to take on the Utah Jazz in the Round of 16.
|Utah Jazz||Denver Nuggets
|PG||Marcus Paige||Jamal Murray||Nuggets|
|SG||Dionte Christmas||Jimmer Fredette||Nuggets|
|SF||Quincy Ford||Axel Toupane||Nuggets|
|PF||Joel Bolomboy||Juancho Hernangomez||Even|
|C||Tibor Pleiss||Petr Cornelie||Jazz|
|Bench||Josh Adams, Ondrej Balvin, Antonio Barton, Darius Carter, Jakarr Sampson, Mateusz Ponitka, Antwan Scott, Josh Scott||
(Starting lineups have been preserved in ice for 2000 years before finally resurfacing. Scientists have carefully whittled away at the edges, and details are starting to emerge. More evidence will be found at 6 pm mountain time.)
Key Matchup: Joel Bolomboy vs Juancho Hernangomez
Trey Lyles has dominated Las Vegas Summer League, and he didn't play the last game. It doesn't look like he will play anymore for the Jazz team, and Joel Bolomboy took his place yesterday. The book on Bolomboy reads that he's a major athlete with some Blake Griffin style hops. Juancho hasn't dealt with anyone quite as big and athletic yet, having mostly checked Adrien Payne, JaMychal Green, and Stefan Jankovic so far. We will see if Hernangomez can continue his dominance in the paint again. I believe he will, and I have faith Juancho will win this battle.
Key thing to watch for: Will there be more Jamal Murray hero ball?
As Murray continued to excel throughout the last game against the Heat, he began to dominate the ball more and more. Most of the time, it was justified, but there were many times at the end of the fourth quarter where he continued to look for his own shot when everyone and their mother knew that's what he would do. What makes many offensive players great is their ability to not only make tough shots, but understand when those shots are becoming too tough. If the player makes the right decision instead of forcing things, the possession is more likely to be successful. Murray needs to continue to see his teammates and make passes if they are open rather than simply try and get up a shot of his own every possession.
Opening thoughts: Tournaments are fun. Let's win.
The Summer League tournament framework is simple: win and advance. Lose and there's only one strike left. If the Nuggets win three times, they will be in the Summer League championship, if they lose, there's still an opportunity, but they have to play in the loser bracket, and nobody likes the loser bracket.
There's no reason the Nuggets can't win this tournament, even without Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris, but in order to do so, everybody has to play well. Fredette has been a great scorer, Murray turned it on last game, Hernangomez and Cornelie have gotten better by the day, and other players off the bench have put together the occasional performance. There's no major prize for winning the games, but it builds confidence and camaraderie with the group, as well as a taste of what winning should really feel like.
Prediction: It has to be a Nuggets win right? With advantages in the backcourt and only Tibor Pleiss (who's listed at 7'3 and shot 2/4 from 3 point range last game) to truly worry about, I see an 85-78 win for the good guys. Jimmer continues to impress, and we see a breakout from Axel Toupane who chips in 15 points.