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MPJ’s defense, Bol Bol’s SpongeBob tattoo, and Vlatko Cancar’s injury update

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Denver Nuggets Summer League Diary: July 2, 2019

Day number two of the Denver Nuggets’ pre Summer League mini-camp is in the books and we got a couple of firsts. First interview with Bol Bol, first interview of the year with Vlatko Cancar, and first look at Jarred Vanderbilt on the court.

Let’s take a look at three takeaways.

2nd team taking it to the 1st team

Typically, the media is allowed onto the practice court after all of the interesting parts of practice are over but over the first two days, the media has gotten to see a bit more than usual. Guys will hang around and get shots up but it’s rare that we get to see actual drill work or contact. That hasn’t been the case so far as the media has been let in for live, full-court 5-on-5 scrimmages.

Today, the first unit consisted of Michael Porter Jr., Brandon Goodwin, Jarred Vanderbilt, Thomas Welsh, and a different player as the 5th guy in each game. That unit got beat in both of the three-minute games by quite a bit. This is hardly information to draw a single conclusion off of but it sure was fun to see the guys go full speed up and down the court. One thing that stood out was Michael Porter Jr.’s defense.

He was active defensively and you can really see how smooth he moves and how long he is on the defensive end. He put himself in harms way at one point, blocking a shot at the rim from the weakside. A few plays later, he went for the same help and ended up on the wrong side of a poster.

Getting to know Bol Bol

We got our first real chance to talk to Bol Bol and it was probably the highlight of the day. Every year around this time I am reminded of just how young the incoming class of rookies are and this year, Bol Bol provided perhaps the most shocking reminder yet. He has a reputation for being shy and quiet and for the first few minutes of his introductory meeting with the media, he appeared to be a fish sponge out of water. But that all changed as soon as he was asked about a tattoo on his lower leg of “Squidward Tentacles” with the word “loser” written above it.

“It’s from the first episode of SpongeBob and that’s my favorite episode,” Bol said, holding back a smile. “Big SpongeBob fan.” When asked to describe the reference, Bol’s smile finally creeped out. “This picture was like...(Squidward) was wiping off of the Krusty Krab window. SpongeBob just comes by. I think someone graffiti’d it on the window.”

It was at that moment that Bol seemed to relax and get comfortable.

It’s easy to imagine life as a 7’2” teenager with a famous dad and eyeballs following you every time you set foot in public. And easy to imagine how that experience could make you reserved and shy. “I’ve been asked for a lot of pictures,” he explained when talking about his first impression of the city of Denver. “I kind of explored a little bit. It’s way better than I thought it would be.”

You can watch the full video above but some of the highlights include:

  • He’s watched more Jokic highlights since the draft. “He’s a really good player. I just...for his size and what he can do it’s pretty amazing.”
  • He has not yet spoken to Jokic, Paul Millsap, or any of the other out of town vets.
  • He says that the team has been incredibly nice over this last week
  • He hasn’t received a diet or workout plan from the team just yet but says that the team is all about taking things slow with him.
  • He said this foot injury is his first and only injury in his life.
  • He didn’t realize it on draft night but he said that he now thinks landing on the Denver Nuggets was the best thing that could’ve happened to him.
  • He also contributed a tiny bit to the Michael porter Jr. hype. “When we played each other (in high school), he would probably average like 30 on my team.”

Vlatko Cancar expects to play on Friday

While Jarred Vanderbilt was back participating in scrimmages and contact drills, Vlatko Cancar was still limited and sat out of the open portion of practice today. He was waling a bit gingerly and talked about his ankle still giving him a bit of pain but expects to be ready by Friday.

The buzz around him has been that he has impressed on the defensive end and is very good at fitting in on the offensive end. Sounds a lot like what we saw last year at Summer League. And like Bol, there’s a very affable and innocent nature to him.

“Yeah I check the internet here and there. I see people are happy (about me) and it kind of warms my heart.”