NBA Summer League: 3 Reasons to Be Excited for Nuggets vs. Warriors

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IJuly 14, 2012

NBA Summer League: 3 Reasons to Be Excited for Nuggets vs. Warriors

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    Just when the NBA junkies started to lose their marbles, Summer League is back to bring some basketball excitement into their lives.

    For the Denver Nuggets—one of the Associations' youngest teams—this Summer League is important for many young players, four specifically.

    2011-12 rookies Kenneth Faried, Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton all missed out on Summer League last year, due to the start of the season being delayed by the lockout.

    While Faried broke into the lineup and broke out a bit last year, Hamilton and Stone have a ton to prove—this is their time to shine.

    Likewise, the newest Nugget, Evan Fournier—who was drafted by Denver 20th overall this year—will get his first crack at NBA-level players the next few weeks.

    And likely for Nuggets fans, today's game should be a good one against Golden State.

1. Let's See What Fournier's Got

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    Fournier—a two-year veteran of professional basketball in his native France—drew a ton of attention when he was selected at No. 20 by Denver three weeks ago.

    Fournier was the first foreigner selected, and he was a relative unknown to all but the most astute and aware basketball savants, leaving Denver media and fans scratching their heads.

    Why, if there were still numerous quality American-born ballers available, would Denver take Fournier?

    Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri—a native of Africa and the first African-born NBA GM—loves having a global feel to his team and the Nuggets' six international players are proof.

    For Nuggets fans, this is their first chance at seeing what the 6'7" SG/SF has to offer and what he can bring to the team.

    Fournier's three-point shooting percentage was low last year, at 27.7 percent, and it would be encouraging to see him drain some from downtown.

    Scouts say he has athleticism as well—this video of him "dunking" over Faried in practice shows some of that—and it would be great to see him take the ball aggressively to the hoop as well.

    Saturday is the first opportunity Nuggets fans will get to see Fournier against NBA talent—it should be exciting.

2. Jordan Hamilton

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    While Faried was a beast last season, rebounding relentlessly and outworking some of the best players in the game, and Stone got some tick too, Hamilton has much to prove in this Summer League.

    Taken late in the first round in 2011, Hamilton was celebrated as an athletic, solid shooting small forward who left Texas after his freshman season.

    And as a freshman in the NBA, he only saw the court in garbage time for Karl's Nuggets.

    This Summer League is his time to shine, or at least prove he deserves to take one of Denver's valuable roster spots.

    In practice and in his highlight tapes, Hamilton is amazing, soaring through the air to throw down monstrous dunks and showing the ability to knock down threes—especially from the corner.

    Like Fournier, today marks the beginning of an important stretch of Summer League games for Hamilton to validate himself a bit.

3. The Warriors' Summer League Team Is Deep

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    Yesterday, the Warriors tipped off their Summer League campaign by blowing out the Lakers 90-50 in a game that wasn't even close from the beginning.

    Klay Thompson scored a game-high 24 with six rebounds and five assists, while Harrison Barnes scored 23 of his own and Draymond Green recorded a near double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

    Thompson's shooting stroke is smooth, and he broke down a defender before hitting a pretty three in yesterday's contest. Plus, he can drive the rock and pass with touch too.

    Those three will be important to slow down today for the Nuggets, and it will be very interesting to see how Faried, Stone, Hamilton and Fournier respond.

    The game tips off at 4 p.m. MT and will be televised on NBA TV.


    Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. Follow him on facebook and/or twitter.