The Denver Nuggets were one of 2 teams without a G League team, but that changes this year. The Nuggets acquired the Detroit Pistons' former G League team and renamed them from the Drive to the Grand Rapids Gold. The Gold start their season on November 11th with the NBA G League Winter Showcase, a competition with all 30 teams that takes place before the season starts. The regular season starts on December 27th with 36 games.
The official rosters have not been announced yet but we have a good idea who could be on the roster. Most likely it will be training camp and preseason guys like Davon Reed, Tarik Black, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, and Matt Ryan. The Nuggets also have Markus Howard and Petr Cornelie as our 2-way contracts for this year, so it is likely that they play a few games in the G League this season. There also is an opportunity for the Nuggets young guys to get some playing time down in the G League too, Bol Bol, Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji and Vlatko Čančar are all candidates for G League minutes.
Davon Reed is a 6’5 shooting guard who played for the Miami Hurricanes. Reed was drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and would go on to play in 21 games with the Phoenix Suns and 10 with the Indiana Pacers. Reed is a 3 and D player, he has a 7 foot wingspan and hustles around the court. Reed’s best performance came for us in the final preseason game versus the Thunder, he had 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting 2/4 from three in 20 minutes and playing great defense throughout. Davon Reed is a good basketball player and he should get another opportunity in the league if he has a solid outing in the G League this season.
Tarik Black is a 6’9 center who went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft. After playing 3 years at the University of Memphis, Tarik transferred to the University of Kansas for his Senior year. Tarik Black is probably best known for his time as a Laker, he averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21 minutes a game one season. Black is a paint based center who really only scores when it is given straight to him, he also rebounds very well and can occasionally block shots too. Tarik has something the rest of these guys don't have though, he’s a tenured NBA vet, he has played substantial minutes in 4 NBA seasons. Tarik didn't play badly during his time in the league but never elevated his game to anything more than being a run and jump big.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili is a 6’9 power forward from the University of Illinois, he went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. Bezhanishvili is from the country of Georgia but moved to Austria as a kid. He had a promising Freshman year at the University of Illinois but slowly got worse over his time there. He averaged a career-high in college of 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and shot 58% from the field his freshman season, he also started in every game. During his sophomore year, he was benched and never started again. Bezhanishvili played for the Nuggets summer league team as well, his best performance was versus the Heat he started for us and put up 4 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes.
Yes, the Nuggets have the Atlanta Falcons quarterback on our G League team, well not actually. Matt Ryan is a 6’7 forward who played for a few separate colleges and went undrafted in 2020, his most notable collegiate season was his senior campaign. Ryan transferred from Vanderbilt to Chattanooga for his Senior year, where he averaged 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while shooting 35% from three on over 7 attempts a game. Matt Ryan was also playing 30 minutes a game. While we never got a chance to see Matt Ryan in a Nuggets game, he has a very useful skillset and if he could develop into a decent defender in the G League he will get an NBA contract somewhere.
It’s weird for me to put Markus in this article, he has proved many times he is deserving of a full-time NBA contract. For those that don't know Markus Howard went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft after being the NCAA’s leading scorer. Markus averaged 27.8 points a game and shot 41% from three on over 10 attempts a game for Marquette University. The reason he went undrafted is that he is only 5’11 and doesn't play great defense. Markus Howard is going to tear up the G League as a 2-way player and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get a full contact offer before next season.
Petr Cornelie was part of that legendary 2016 Nuggets draft class, he was drafted 53rd overall by the Nuggets. Cornelie is from France and had to finish his contract for his French team, Elan Bearnais before he was allowed to come to the NBA. Petr Cornelie averaged 14.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and shot 44% from three on almost 3 attempts a game last season in France. I like Petr Cornelie and it’s not just because of his name, all though that does help. Cornelie is a 6’11 center who isn't super slow and that can shoot threes and block shots at a decent level, if he continues to develop this season he could very well be our backup center after the Greens move on.
Plausible but unlikely
Bol has played in the G League before and was openly frustrated by it, at this point in his career I just can't imagine him playing for the Gold. If he was sent down to the G League he would probably throw a fit and refuse to play anyways. It’s simply time for the Nuggets and Bol Bol to go their separate ways.
After Bones was drafted I imagined he would barely play his rookie year and spend most of his time in the G League but Bones has already made an impact on the Nuggets coaching staff and the fans too. I highly doubt that Bones will be spending much time in the G League if any, he has an undeniable talent that the Nuggets could use off the bench. Now I don't think Bones will be a part of the rotation every game but he will definitely get garbage time minutes and all he has to do from there is play to the level we have already been seeing from him.
I think that Zeke Nnaji is probably the player on the Nuggets roster that could benefit the most from playing with the Gold. His game has not finished developing yet and we deal with a lot of growing pains with him, Zeke having consistent playing time in the G League could do wonders for his progression. I think he should be getting more NBA time than G League time but we also don’t have the minutes for him. The best thing for Nnaji’s career right now is to be playing and learning as much as possible.
Vlatko could benefit from G League time but I think the team would rather have him around. He is such a joy to be around, and I think him not being here could mess with the camaraderie of the locker room. Vlatko also probably won't be getting much better, he has almost hit his ceiling as a player already so there's really no point in trying to develop him any more. He also brings a much-needed skill set to the Nuggets as is.