What to watch for in Denver Nuggets Summer League

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NBA Summer League has a rich history of showcasing the NBA’s future stars as well as giving players who have been been overlooked or undervalued the opportunity to make a statement in front of NBA scouts, D-League scouts and international scouts, plenty of which will be attending Orlando, Utah and Vegas to improve their respective teams.

On Friday, the Denver Nuggets announced their roster for the 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and unlike many other teams that have a plethora of young guys who weren’t able crack the rotation for whatever reason, the Nuggets appear to be highlighted by only two players on their current roster, Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley.

Vets, Kind of

Denver’s future looks bright due to having a relatively young roster, which makes it rather difficult to play everyone viable minutes. Last year the Nuggets struck gold with a very strong draft class of Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez and also Malik Beasley.

Despite reports that he’s close to 100 percent, Jamal Murray wasn’t listed on the summer league roster – and that only means more run for Beasley and Hernangomez.

Beasley didn’t play much his rookie season, stuck behind Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton. As such, he had a few stints in the D-league to get some game time minutes. While with the Sioux Falls Skyforce he averaged 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds a game, showcasing his scoring and athletic ability. Because of an injury, Beasley didn’t play on last year’s summer league team so this could be used as his coming out year.

Hernangomez wasn’t expected to play for the Nuggets last year as many thought he would be a draft-and-stash player. But a successful run in the 2016 summer league changed the minds of Denver’s coaching staff and front office. In his rookie campaign, Hernangomez played in 62 games and averaged 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds a game all while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. While he most likely won’t play much past the first two game or so in summer league, he will be a player to keep your eye on as he should play a more prominent role this upcoming year.

The Unknown Talent

Other than free agency, a way for the team to get better is through proper draft picks, some are used to enhance the team immediately, some draft picks are used to better the team eventually. With the Nuggets 2017 NBA Summer League team, there’s clearly a blend of the two. Within the roster there are two previous draft-and-stash players in Petr Cornielie and Nikola Radicevic, but there’s also fascinating players drafted this year in Tyler Lydon and Monte Morris.

Radicevic is the 2015 draft-and-stash point guard who’s been playing in Spain and will be playing in his first Vegas Summer League action. Cornelie, the 2016 draft-and-stash big man who most recently played in France, was able to play with the Nuggets last year in summer league.

2017 first-round pick Tyler Lydon, as well as second-rounder Monte Morris will join them.

Lyon, out of Syracuse is intriguing, as he is a player who shot well from deep in college (40.7 percent from beyond the arch). One question that looms is Lydon’s defensive capabilities and whether or not they’ll translate to the NBA; he’s been in a zone scheme that Syracuse is known for.

Morris, out of Iowa State, has been referred to as a “true point guard.” The Nuggets organization seemed thrilled to get that late in the draft. His assist-to-turnover ratio despite playing in one of the fastest offenses in the country makes him a rather unique prospect and one to keep an eye on come summer league.  On draft night, Tim Connelly stated he wanted to get a long look at Lydon and Morris in summer league, so expect just that.

In-State Talent in the Mix

Whenever choosing a team to side with, most choose the home team. Well, Denver also continued its pattern of adding in-state talent to its summer roster in Xavier Johnson from the University of Colorado and Thomas Bropleh, who attended George Washington High School in Denver.

Johnson, out of the University of Colorado, put together an incredible run with the Buffaloes. During his senior year, he posted his best stats scoring 14.9 points, while grabbing 5.9 boards a game.

Bropleh, a Denver native, has been working out with the Nuggets organization during the summer for a few years now; finally he’ll get his opportunity. Bropleh played a pivotal role off the bench at Boise State before going over-seas to Germany where he averaged 15.9 points per game for Finke Baskets. He also participated in the D-league draft and went to the Texas Legends before going back to play overseas. He last played in Spain for FC Porto Ferpinta.

A productive showing in summer league from all of these prospects will not only put the Nuggets at the top as one of the favorites in the Vegas tournament, but shall strengthen their names in hopes of catching the attention of an influential scout. Who knows, maybe a few could be considered for extra minutes,  get a camp invite, make a roster or be picked up from an overseas team.

ESPN will present all 67 games from Las Vegas across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the ESPN App, including 35 on its linear television channels. NBA TV will air 28 games. In total, 63 games from Las Vegas will air across ESPN and NBA TV’s linear channels – a Summer League record.

Tickets for NBA Summer League 2017 are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting NBATickets.com.

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