I got a Basketball Jones. A fairly predictable Finals was still better than no basketball at all. Now, it’s 128 days. 3072 hours until NBA basketball is played again, at least in a fashion that counts against a win-loss record. That’s a long time for a Denver Nuggets/overall hoops junkie to go without a fix, and I assume you are one, or what the hell are you doing on a Denver Nuggets blog? You’ve got a jones. Sadly, I’m not here to wean the junkies, only to tell you how you might survive the long, long summer without any regular-season basketball in the mix… Think of it as a twelve-step program, but in the end, you’re still hooked. Hopefully this can get you by until you’re watching the next chapter of this guy’s story, and so many others… 

Step One – Keep up with the kids

timing: RIGHT NOW

USA Basketball Under-16 Men’s team has a game today and another tomorrow in their trilogy of the FIBA Americas Championship Series. The next generation of USA Basketball is on the way, and you could catch a few future superstars in the mix. Given how internationally diverse the NBA is becoming, pay just as much attention to the stars on the other teams. USA Basketball will have events for both the men’s and women’s under-16 and under-19 teams all Summer long.


Step Two – Go see your sister (league)

timing: RIGHT NOW

If you’ve enjoyed what the current NBA game is evolving to, with the full complement of fundamentals on display amongst the league’s elite, you should check out the WNBA. If you’ve not watched the women’s game in a while, give it another look. There’s some serious hoops being had, with the All-Star game on July 22nd, and the playoffs kicking off in early September. Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, and so many more. Great basketball, and scoring rates have been on the rise for nearly a decade now.


Step Three – Make a buck

timing: this Saturday 

The Basketball Tournament” begins this Saturday with a play-in tournament to be one of 64 teams competing for a winner-takes-all prize of two million dollars. Wish you could join in? You can, if they still have any slots on teams. You can even be a part of the prize money if you’re one of a team’s top fans. Call it basketball for the reality-TV generation or capitalist hoops, but this tournament has only grown year over year since its inception, and the four-letter network will have one of their many channels covering the event. You can bet the later stages will generate an audience. A team of CU Buffs alumni players made it to last year’s Finals.


Step Four – See the newest Nuggets

timing: Seven days out 

Amazingly, all of this basketball is available to you within the next week, including Denver’s next crack at the NBA Draft. As a gentle reminder, the current front office has brought Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, and the talented-but-traded Jusuf Nurkic on board in the last three drafts. That sort of hit parade engenders a lot of excitement for what is possible for the Nuggets in this year’s draft. It kicks off at 5pm Mountain Time next Thursday, so start keeping track as you’re wrapping up your workday, if you’re in the Rocky Mountain state.


Step Five – Go BIG or go home

timing: Starting next Sunday 

Former Denver Nuggets players Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, and Al Harrington make up four of 14 player captains returning to play three-on-three basketball in the BIG3 season, running every Saturday for ten weeks, from June 25th through August 26th. The players own and manage the league themselves, and it will be fun to see if the concept catches fire, with some of the names they have coming to play.


Step Six – The boys of Summer

timing: A few weeks out

No, not the Colorado Rockies, though it wouldn’t hurt you to check out the baseball club this year if you’re ever going to go. They’re killing it this season, and playing fun, solid, fundamentally sound baseball. Plus, a summer day at Coors Field is a thing of beauty. But in this case, the boys of NBA summer hoops. NBA Summer League play kicks off in Orlando on July 1st, Salt Lake City on July 3rd, and in Las Vegas for your Denver Nuggets (and a record 23 more teams) on July 7th. The Nuggets have several young talents who can start ramping up for the 2017-2018 season, and show the coaching staff where their games are progressing. Televised airings of Summer League games has been hit-and-miss the last few seasons, so here’s hoping there will be increased access for the upcoming year to keep fans excited for the year to come.


Step Seven – Remember family

timing: July 10-21

Yes, your family, and the Nuggets family. Bill Hanzlik has been a huge part of the Denver Nuggets family for years as a player, coach, ambassador, and analyst. He also is an all-around good guy who runs the Hanzlik Hoops Camp every Summer for the Gold Crown Foundation, helping boys and girls between second and ninth grades to learn more about basketball fundamentals and playing as a team. If your family has a child in that age range who is interested in learning more about the sport, Bill has been running this camp for a lot of years. All your families benefit.


Step Eight – Get Pumped

timing: July 13-23 

Double Pump Basketball has a couple of quick tourneys coming in mid-July that will have some of the best high school players in the country playing their guts out for prospective NCAA coaches and scholarships. Former alum of the Double Pump system include James Harden, Paul George, and many more. This tourney is in my backyard in Anaheim, California, but there are several more of the sort playing out across the country where you might see some of basketball’s next wave. If you want to find one, wait until Step Ten.


Step Nine – An even bigger three

timing: Early August

No, not bigger players than the BIG3 roster, but the one of the biggest three-on-three events of the summer, the Nike 3ON3 tourney, with over 1,500 teams and 5,000 players descending on Los Angeles for three days starting August 4th. Three-on-three hoops is always a blast to watch, with very open floors making for a game that rarely seems to stall in its motion. If you get a chance to see games or highlights, the action is a blast.


Step Ten – Indulge a little

timing: All summer long 

A little indulgence is all the NCAA will afford its players for Summer Ball, but each player is allowed one event or league this summer, out of the 51 leagues and 150 events available to them. Find out which ones are most popular near you, and see the best of the collegiate circuit get their one chance to shine in front of watchful eyes over the summer before the NCAA has them back under wraps until the fall.


Step Eleven – DIY

timing: I don’t know, you tell me 

Get up. There’s a basketball hoop out there somewhere near you. Remind yourself how fun it is to throw a ball at that hoop, or how maddening. We all should dribble every now and then. Get some air in those lungs, remember Summer is a glorious time of year and proceed to have your tall wife kick the crap out of you at Horse for the berjillionth time. Or maybe skip that last part. But go shoot a few. Be a part of your own basketball jones.  It’s good for your head, your heart, your health, and your humility.


Step Twelve – Bring it on home

timing: early Fall

You made it to the final bit of the twelve-step program, and this one is one of the best, Nuggets fans. Preseason basketball begins for the NBA on September 30th, and runs up into mid-October. At that point, the skids are greased for the regular season a week later, and you survived another summer that felt like a long winter without NBA hoops. Think of it like basketball NicoDerm™, without actually quitting the smokes.


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