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Preview: Nuggets open 2018 Summer League against Timberwolves

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Tyler Lydon headlines a group of young players that are fighting for a chance to begin their professional career in basketball.

2017 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Professional NBA basketball has returned!

With the draft being old news, and the busiest time of free agency over, the Nuggets youngest players are headed to Las Vegas to compete in the 2018 Summer League. The team, headlined by Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, Tyler Lydon, and Thomas Welsh, will compete in a minimum of five games — three scheduled games, and two tournament games.

This is a chance for players like Monte Morris to show the front office that he’s deserving of the backup point guard position with the team, and a guaranteed contract. The Nuggets currently have one point guard on a guaranteed contract, unlike last season, where they had three. If Morris disappoints, don’t be surprised to see them make another trade or look to add a veteran free agent to back up Murray.

The basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (0-0) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0)

When: 9:00 PM MT

Where: Cox Pavilion, Las Vegas, Nevada

How to watch: NBATV

Starting Lineups

To clarify, I haven’t heard of most of these players, so me penciling them in as starters is purely speculation.

Position
Nuggets
Timberwolves
Edge
PG
Monte Morris
Jared Terrell
Nuggets
SG
Malik Beasley
Josh Okogie
Nuggets
SF
Kenrich Williams
Keita Bates-Diop
Even
PF
Tyler Lydon
Amile Jefferson
Timberwolves
C
Thomas Welsh
Dennis Clifford
Even
Bench
Andre Spight, Scott Machado, Stan Okoye, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Vlatko Cancar, Petr Cornelie, Kennedy Meeks
Perry Jones, Andrew White, Isaiah Cousins, Jaylen Barford, Josh Gray, Jonathan Stark, Nana Foulland
Toss up

Three things to watch for

Is Malik Beasley good? The young guard has supposedly (according to reports and his Instagram account) been putting in a lot of work this summer. He’s been working hard, and he has an opportunity to earn a backup role on the team if he’s halfway decent. The Nuggets really need him to step up, because they can’t play Will Barton 48 minutes a night (they might want to, but they can’t). Beasley needs to show that he’s not just a precocious young man with a great vertical; he needs to show that he’s capable of being a solid bench player. Hopefully the Nuggets coaching staff calls all the plays he needs to demonstrate that.

Is Monte Morris good? The Nuggets other guard needs to have as good if not a better game than Beasley. The Nuggets can’t go into the season with just Jamal Murray at point guard — they’ll lose 50 games. Morris will either step into the backup role with a strong Summer League, or he’s going to be relegated to the bench as a fifth guard. He needs to show that he can run the offense, play defense, and control the game.

What position does Tyler Lydon play? There’s no denying my adoration and respect for Tyler Lydon. If I was a NBA player, I would be Tyler Lydon. I am the president of the Tyler Lydon fan club. But, even with that title, I have no idea if he’s a small forward or a power forward in the NBA. Maybe he’s a little bit of both — I have no idea. He’s played two minutes in the NBA (ruining his chances at winning Rookie of the Year this year) and the rest of his minutes have come in the G League. At Syracuse, he played as a forward and sometimes as a small-ball five. If he can show that he can defend power forwards while attacking small forwards on offense with his height, shooting ability, offensive rebounding and overall skill, he’ll be able to get minutes (at some point). Who knows — maybe he’ll bump Juancho Hernangomez further down the bench.

Prediction

Seriously? It’s Summer League. Just try to enjoy the game if you’re watching.