If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.
Welcome back to another edition of Film Friday. After one of the most confusing college semesters ever, we’re seeing the vast majority of college campuses going through graduation currently. With that in mind, we’re going back in time for this week’s film study, and we’re going to be taking a look at some of the special plays that the Nuggets made during their formative years.
“Gage, Nikola Jokic didn’t go to college?” I don’t care, and we’re going to look at his play over in Europe which works fine for me. Don’t like it? Oh well. That’s what we’re doing. Also, for those of you that are completing school or have completed school, whether that’s high school or college, congratulations. Enjoy the moment, even though it’s a little bit weird.
University of Kentucky, Point Guard, Jamal Murray
Is Jamal Murray the most athletic point guard in the NBA? *Checks notes to see that Russell Westbrook still exists.* That’s a no. Has he always had this ability to just flip up some acrobatic shots that make no sense? That’s a big yes. This was during Murray’s lone season at Kentucky, and it was just an absolutely stupid shot that he managed to convert.
He starts charging the basket with the ball coming his way. With the defender in front of him, it looks like his path is cut off, but he doesn’t let that stop him. He hits two dribbles into a spin move, and the defender is just cooked. He gets up in the air where he breaks out the double-clutch floater over multiple outstretched hands. It was both brutal and beautiful to watch.
Michigan State University, Shooting Guard, Gary Harris
The Big 10 is consistently one of the best and most competitive conferences in college basketball every year. In Harris’ draft, there were seven different players from the Big-10 that were drafted, and he played against countless others that would go on to play in the NBA, such as Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke. Even against that top talent, he was able to put up some impressive performances.
Let’s just take a look at the clip above. Harris beats his man off the dribble, and he’s facing a 7’ tall center that was an All-American in high school and college, and he was drafted in the first round. Harris, who is a little undersized, gets fancy with a scoop layup around the back of Zeller that he gets to fall. Those slashing talents have continued to be utilized today, and it’s a large factor in why he has been used the way he has.
University of Memphis, Small Forward, Will Barton
Full disclosure, it was a little difficult to find clear clips of Will Barton from school just because of the video quality when he was in school. However, Barton had plenty of entertaining clips that he pulled off, and, unsurprisingly, he was arguably the best player in every game that he played.
When he participated the dunk contest a few years ago, he called himself “The Thrill.” His athleticism allows him to rise up for dunks on his own, but he can also get some acrobatics going when someone else misses. That’s what he does in the above clip. He’s paying attention to his teammate who puts up a questionable shot, and he immediately charges the rim. He’s rewarded for his efforts with an easy bucket.
Syracuse University, Power Forward, Jerami Grant
First thing’s first, I’m sorry that I couldn’t get a clip of Paul Millsap for this spot. It was too long ago, and the footage is so grainy that it’s impossible to decipher one player from another. With that in mind, I went with the guy I expect to be Denver’s power forward of the future in Jerami Grant. Trust me, there are a good amount of clips in there to choose from.
Could I have picked a clip that better exemplifies the way that Grant plays his game now? Yes. Was I going to pass up a full-on nonsense layup? Not on your life. Grant’s size and athleticism allows him to get rolling downhill while putting his defenders on their backfoot. He gets moving here, and he just flips a shot over his head. It backs off the backboard and goes in. There is just nothing you can do on that one.
Mega Basket, Center, Nikola Jokic
Alright, so I couldn’t necessarily find any clips of Jokic from his time with Mega Basket that I was a huge fan of. I did find some film from him at the 2014 NIke Hoops Summit abusing everyone else on the floor though. Man, if you have a few minutes, go watch some Baby Jokic.
I cheated a little by putting three different clips in one section, but, with how quickly they were going across the screen, I felt it wasn’t that big of a deal. In a quick seven seconds, he hits a triple, a switch-handed layup and a slick no-look pass. Jokic was the modern version of himself before we even knew what he was going to be. That’s just not fair for everyone else that showed up.
For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.