As the Denver Nuggets return to training camp, it’s important for fans to become reacquainted with their favorite team. During a shortened offseason, the Nuggets made several player transactions, more than usual, and the resulting roster looks very different than it did before. 10 players on the 2019-20 roster have returned for the 2020-21 season, and they are:
Jamal Murray - point guard
Monte Morris - point guard
PJ Dozier - combo guard
Gary Harris - shooting guard
Will Barton - wing/forward
Michael Porter Jr. - forward
Bol Bol - forward
Paul Millsap - power forward
Vlatko Čančar - power forward
Nikola Jokić - center
That leaves seven roster spots, each of which the Nuggets have filled with a player hoping to move the Nuggets closer to winning their first championship in franchise history.
Today, it’s time to introduce Nuggets fans to Facundo Campazzo.
Facundo Campazzo Player Profile
Position: Point Guard
Previous Team: Real Madrid, Liga ACB
Measurables: 5’11” height, 165 lbs, wingspan unknown
How did Campazzo get to the Nuggets?
Facundo Campazzo has been on Denver’s radar for a long time. As a sensational international point guard passer, the Nuggets brass was naturally drawn to the short point guard and amazed by his facilitation skills, basketball IQ, and toughness. Rafal Juc, Denver’s lead international scout and one of the most connected NBA personnel in Europe, generally leads the charge for Denver when it comes to bringing in international players. He was surely one of the lead voices in the courting and acquisition of Campazzo.
Multiple teams inquired about Campazzo over the last several months, and it was the Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New York Knicks that made the strongest push to sign the Argentinian guard. Ultimately, Campazzo was swayed by international players like Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, and Andres Nocioni that Denver would be the best landing spot for him, as told by Campazzo himself. The three are considered some of the best Argentinian basketball players to ever play, and getting that endorsement speaks volumes.
The Nuggets are lucky to have Campazzo here. After spending a few years with Real Madrid, Campazzo proved he was one of the best international players in the world that hadn’t played for the NBA at any point in his career. This is the next step in his journey, the ultimate proving ground to see how his skills measure up in the best league worldwide.
What to expect from Campazzo
The Nuggets are adding a dynamic player to their roster with several strengths and one distinct weakness. Let’s focus on the positives first:
Campazzo isn’t just a good passer. He’s an elite passer, manipulating the defense to the fullest extent to generate open shots for himself and others in the halfcourt. Campazzo spends most of his time handling the ball in pick and roll situations, drawing defenders with his quickness and agility. He generates passing lanes for open shots all the time, executing almost every single pass to perfection. He even passes well in transition, moving the ball quickly up the floor either by himself or using hit-ahead passes to out-maneuver the defense consistently. This ability will almost certainly translate to the NBA level. With a heavy prioritization of spacing, outside shooting, and maximizing shot quality, Campazzo will have free rein to operate the pick and roll while seeing the entire floor.
In addition to his passing, it’s clear that Campazzo is a fearless competitor on both sides of the ball. Campazzo hurls his body into defenders when driving into the teeth of the defense so he can consistently generate shots around the rim for himself. Defenses often don’t expect a player of Campazzo’s stature to attack in that manner, and a split second of indecision is all that Campazzo needs to make contested shots. Defensively, Campazzo is very scrappy, often racking up a high number of steals by getting into an opponent’s air space. Competing at 100% is often enough in certain scenarios, and being unwilling to back down is Campazzo’s bread and butter. The Nuggets can always use more competitors, and having players on the roster and playing in important games that are passionate and fiery about what they do often leads to better chemistry and cohesion.
It isn’t all sunshine and roses though. The biggest question mark with Facundo Campazzo will always remain attached to him. Listed at 5’11” but probably not quite that tall, Campazzo’s size is an aspect of his game that had many teams concerned for his level of impact at the NBA level. There were only ten players in the NBA last season that measured at 5’11” or shorter that played NBA minutes. Only three of them, Isaiah Thomas, D.J. Augustin, and Jordan McLaughlin, played at least 500 minutes. It’s clearly possible to play at the NBA level even standing at just 5’11”, but Campazzo will still have to work incredibly hard just to be impactful because of that size. NBA teams often hunt mismatches whenever they can, and with position-less basketball becoming more prevalent, guards have become taller and bigs have become more skilled.
Despite all of that, there’s no reason Campazzo can’t succeed as a backup point guard in today’s NBA. Talent usually supersedes anything else. Just ask Nikola Jokić.
The Nuggets already have a backup point guard on the roster though. Monte Morris is in the last year of his contract with the Nuggets before potentially exploring free agency. He has played in every single one of Denver’s games for the past two seasons and is as much a mainstay as Jokić or Jamal Murray. Morris isn’t going anywhere right now, meaning he and Campazzo will be competing for the same minutes.
Whatever happens in the rotation remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the Nuggets valued Campazzo enough to bring him to their roster, even if there wasn’t the perfect spot available for him when he arrived. Campazzo will improve Denver’s rotation no matter what. Assumably, he will be in it, but the fit remains a question mark until we see Campazzo in action.
That’s something I’m very much looking forward to when preseason kicks off this Saturday.