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Nuggets Summer League Preview: The Bol Bol show

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The Denver Nuggets will be shorthanded heading into Game 1 of their Summer League experience tonight

Atlanta Hawks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Hey look, it’s more basketball!

It’s been a while since the Denver Nuggets have had an actual basketball game to be interested in, two months or so. The last time the Nuggets played, they were swept by the eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns, leaving a bad taste if the mouths of the team, organization, and fans. There were of course legitimate reasons why the team faltered, but getting swept is never enjoyable.

Now, it’s officially time for the Nuggets to turn the page. Summer League is here, and with it comes the promise of the future. Many NBA prospects will be making their professional debuts, and several more players, young and old, will be working to latch onto an NBA team through their time in Las Vegas. The Nuggets, just like any other team, will be monitoring the proceedings closely, as events at Summer League could cause potential shifts in the plan for the next regular season.

Among the Nuggets will be several exciting players, including first round draft pick Bones Hyland, last year’s first round draft pick Zeke Nnaji, talented big man Bol Bol, and explosive scoring guard Markus Howard. All four may have a chance to showcase their talents at Summer League, as well as the rest of Denver’s roster.

Up first on Sunday night, a matchup with the Miami Heat.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Miami Heat

Where: Las Vegas Summer League, Nevada

When: Sunday, 8:00pm MT

How to Watch: NBA TV, ESPN+, maybe ESPN 3? Unclear.


Biggest questions

Who’s actually playing?

The Nuggets have had to adjust to absences created by health and safety protocols due to COVID 19. Initially, this is what the Nuggets roster appeared to be heading into the event:

The new additions appeared to be Davon Reed and Jimmer Fredette; however, Fredette didn’t join the group for unknown reasons.

The Nuggets needed some new additions because of potential problems with health and safety protocols, and it appears that none of Zeke Nnaji, Bones Hyland, or Markus Howard will be available for the Nuggets in tonight’s game, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR. That leaves a drastically less interesting group pertaining to Denver’s actual NBA roster heading into tonight. Several players do have NBA experience, including Tarik Black, Zylan Cheatham, Deonte Burton, and Davon Reed. Other interesting players include Caleb Agada, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Matur Maker, and local Denver product Chudier Bile. Still, a roster without Denver’s two most recent first round picks loses some of the overall luster.

What does Bol Bol have in store?

It’s no secret that Bol Bol and the Nuggets haven’t quite figured out a successful partnership quite yet. Selected in the second round of the 2019 draft after a precipitous fall, the Nuggets took a chance on Bol, afforded him the opportunity to recover from foot surgery, and eased him into playing time in the 2020 bubble. In the 2020-21 season, things didn’t work out, with Zeke Nnaji and Vlatko Čančar both passing Bol in the rotation to the chagrin of Nuggets fans everywhere.

Now, Bol is in the last year of his contract with the Nuggets and needs a strong performance in Summer League to propel him forward. The Nuggets remain intrigued by his talent, skill set, and versatility, but they need to see more from him, more sustainable production and impact, in order to commit to him once again. It appears that with Several players absent due to health and safety protocols, Bol will get his chance tonight.

Is Miami Heat center Omer Yurtseven about to dominate this game?

The Miami Heat recently signed 7’0” Turkish center Omer Yurtseven to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million after initially declining his contract at the beginning of free agency. Strong play from Yurtseven in Miami’s first summer league games in the California Classic helped him ink a new contract. He averaged 26.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game while showcasing a versatile skill set at seven feet tall.

His success should be a highlight for all summer league participants that if you show out and perform well, there’s an opportunity to make real money on fully guaranteed contracts. The Nuggets currently have all 15 roster spots taken up, but that doesn’t mean other teams aren’t watching as well. Summer league participants are putting on a show for all 30 teams, which is why showcasing talent is really important.

The real question though is, do the Nuggets have an answer for the Turkish big man? Bol Bol will likely start at center and face him. That matchup should be a fun one to watch unfold.

Denver Nuggets Summer League schedule