Denver Nuggets: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
The Denver Nuggets have had a fairly quiet offseason and are looking for several players to surprise them during the Las Vegas summer league.
Aside from taking three prospects in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Nuggets haven’t been involved in any major trade or free agency talks. Their major move thus far was re-signing guard Andre Miller to a three-year deal. Denver is currently working on a new contract for restricted free agent center JaVale McGee, and it’s going well, according to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.
Getting Miller and McGee back is good for the Nuggets, but it’s questionable as to how they match up in the very competitive Western Conference.
Here is a breakdown of each player on Denver’s summer league roster as well as some key storylines to look for in Las Vegas.
Denver Nuggets Summer League Schedule
Saturday, July 14 at 4 p.m.: Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors
Sunday, July 15 at 4 p.m.: Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Tuesday, July 17 at 2 p.m.: Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Thursday, July 19 at 8:30 p.m.: Denver Nuggets vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Friday, July 20 at 4 p.m.: Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
*All game times are in Mountain Standard Time*
Solomon Alabi, C, Toronto Raptors (2 Years Experience)
Player Profile: 7'1'', 252 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 2.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.1 steals, 36.1 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 87.5 FT%
Player Breakdown: Solomon Alabi didn’t see much time with the Toronto Raptors last season until the last few games. He only played in four games where he logged more than 10 minutes. In the season finale against the Brooklyn Nets, Alabi played 40 minutes for the Raptors where he set career-highs in points with 11 and rebounds with 19.
Alabi needs to show Denver that he can be a force on the low-block during the summer league, grabbing plenty of offensive and defensive rebounds.
The Nuggets already have a couple of seven-foot options on the roster so Alabi will really need to turn some heads.
Prediction: Alabi will be cut after summer league and will either sign with a NBA D-League team for the regular season or play overseas.
Josh Carter, G/F, Maccabi Ashdod (Israel)
Player Profile: 6'7'', 200 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 61.0 FG%, 39.1 3P%, 86.0 FT%
Player Breakdown: After going undrafted out of Texas A&M, Josh Carter went overseas to play in Germany and more recently, Israel. Playing for Maccabi Ashdod B.C. of the Israeli Basketball Super League, Carter averaged 17.1 points per game that was the 10th best in the league.
Carter’s an outstanding shooter, showing capabilities of scoring from every spot on the court. In his senior season with the Aggies, Carter shot 43 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Last season he was much better from the field and around the same from three.
If Carter is going to make the Nuggets regular season squad, he’s going to need to shoot very well during the summer league games.
Prediction: Carter gets reassigned to a D-League team and could see some time in the NBA late in the season. He will not go back overseas.
Kenneth Faried, F, Denver Nuggets (1 Year Experience)
Player Profile: 6'8'', 228 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 58.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 66.5 FT%
Player Breakdown: Drafted out of Morehead State in last year’s NBA draft, Kenneth Faried turned out to be a very good selection for the Nuggets.
Faried was a starter for nearly all of the season and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team at the end of the year. He’s the type of player that Denver can build around for the future as he’s a solid power forward. He shoots well from the low-post and will average double-double numbers as his career progresses.
Playing in the summer league will only help Faried work on his game further, and he can teach some of the new players how to transition from college to the pros.
Prediction: Faried is a starter for the Denver Nuggets.
Evan Fournier, G, France (2012 No. 20 Overall Pick)
Player Profile: 6'7'', 190 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals, 52.2 FG%, 27.7 3P%, 75.4FT%
Player Breakdown: Evan Fournier is a good shooting guard who the Nuggets feel could be a key piece of their team in the future. He was a solid shooter in France, but isn’t a deep threat. He only shoots 28 percent from three-point range and is better off taking mid-range shots.
Fournier is a big shooting guard which could make things difficult for defenders forced to guard him. He’ll need to take advantage of his ability to penetrate and take those defenders to the rim.
Playing in the summer league should give the Nuggets staff an idea of how Fournier can transition from playing in France to playing in the NBA. It will be basically their first real look at him playing against other NBA talents.
Prediction: Fournier doesn’t return to France and decides to play in the NBA. He becomes a regular off of the bench for Denver.
Jorge Gutierrez, G, California (Undrafted Free Agent)
Player Profile: 6'3'', 195 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 47.5 FG%, 32.9 3P%, 74.4 FT%
Player Breakdown: Jorge Gutierrez was one of the Cal Bears’ best players last season and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year after putting up solid all-around numbers in his senior year. That’s what he’s turned out to be, an all-around player.
Gutierrez doesn’t have trouble shooting the ball from mid-range; he’s a solid passer and also a good rebounder for a point guard. He went undrafted, but he still has the talent and potential to become an NBA player in the future.
Gutierrez needs to work on his shooting and passing during the summer league to give himself a shot at making the team. He doesn’t have the best shot since Denver already has several good guards on the roster.
Prediction: Gutierrez gets cut after the summer league concludes and goes to play overseas.
Jordan Hamilton, F, Denver Nuggets (1 Year Experience)
Player Profile: 6'8'', 220 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.2 steals, 43.2 FG%, 36.2 3P%, 40.0 FT%
Player Breakdown: In his first season in the NBA after a short career at Texas, Jordan Hamilton produced solid numbers for the 10 minutes per game that he averaged.
Hamilton was a very good player while with the Longhorns and translated some of that success into the NBA. He’s a good shooter from mid-range territory and from three-point range. Hamilton is still learning how to play with other good players, but seems to be developing nicely.
Hamilton just needs to work on his overall game during the summer league and is nearly a lock to make the NBA roster.
Prediction: Hamilton makes the team and is a role player for the Nuggets next season.
Demonte Harper, F, KK Cibona VIP Zagreb (Croatia)
Player Profile: 6'4'', 195 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 51.7 FG%, 22.9 3P%, 36.0 FT%
Player Breakdown: After Demonte Harper went undrafted a year ago, he went overseas to play in Croatia where he hasn’t made much of an impact. He was a good scorer in college, but that hasn’t translated into his professional career.
Harper has improved his mid-range shot, but has been very bad from three-point range and even the free throw line. In the Adriatic League, he averaged 18 minutes per game but only scored five points. Playing in the Euroleague, he’s averaging a little more time and has scored 13.5 points per game.
Harper is probably only getting a shot with the Nuggets because he was teammates with Faried at Morehead State. He doesn’t bring that much to the table.
Prediction: Harper returns to Croatia after getting cut by Denver.
Derwin Kitchen, G, Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel)
Player Profile: 6'4'', 204 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 14.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 60.8 FG%, 39.6 3P%, 76.3 FT%
Player Breakdown: Derwin Kitchen was a key contributor for the Florida State Seminoles a couple of years ago, but has been playing in Israel after going undrafted.
I remember Kitchen from college, but had no idea he was putting up such good numbers overseas. As one of Maccabi’s best players, he’s shot the lights out and turned into an all-around impressive player.
Kitchen is a great rebounder for a guard and could really have a shot at making the team. Proving to the coaching staff that he still matches up with some of the best young players could get him an NBA contract.
Prediction: Kitchen makes the Nuggets roster and rides the bench for majority of the season. He then either asks for his release or starts to play more often.
Gani Lawal, F, Chorale Roanne (France)
Player Profile: 6'9'', 234 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 6.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 70.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 50.0 FT%
Player Breakdown: Since being drafted in 2010 by the Phoenix Suns out of Georgia Tech, Gani Lawal has been all over the place playing basketball. He briefly played in the NBA, saw time in the NBA D-League, and played overseas in Poland, China and most recently, France.
Lawal only played four games with Roanne and had limited success. He played much better in Poland and China where he averaged double-doubles while playing over 26 minutes per game. In France he’s been forgettable.
During the summer league, Lawal needs to play like he did to start his overseas career and leave his France play in France. Putting up big numbers will be the only way he makes the team.
Prediction: Lawal gets cut and tries to find a team overseas to play for.
Chu Chu Maduabum, F, Bakersfield Jam (NBA D-League)
Player Profile: 6'9'', 210 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 00.0 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 00.0 FT%
Player Breakdown: The reason that Chu Chu Maduabum doesn’t have any numbers from last season is because he only played one game for the Bakersfield Jam before being waived due to injury.
Maduabum was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers before having his draft rights traded to the Nuggets. He only played in three games with the Jam in 2010-’11 and barely touched the floor.
The Nuggets are giving Maduabum a second chance, and he really needs to prove that he’s worth a spot on the roster.
Prediction: Maduabum gets cut and returns to his home of Nigeria to play overseas.
Quincy Miller, F, Baylor (2012 No. 38 Overall Pick)
Player Profile: 6'9'', 210 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 44.7 FG%, 34.8 3P%, 81.6 FT%
Player Breakdown: Quincy Miller decided to leave Baylor after his freshman season where he became an immediate star for the Bears. He was the named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year as well as being named to the Big 12 All-Rookie Team and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
Miller is a good athlete that has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He’s also a versatile defender and has the ability to guard either guards or forwards.
Summer league will be the first time the coaching staff gets a good look at Miller, and they should be impressed. He’ll give it everything that he’s got and could earn a spot on the Denver team if he shoots well early.
Prediction: Miller’s hustle and versatility will get him onto the Nuggets roster for next season.
Julyan Stone, G, Denver Nuggets (1 Year Experience)
Player Profile: 6'7'', 200 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 1.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 41.9 FG%, 18.2 3P%, 72.7 FT%
Player Breakdown: Julyan Stone is one of the players on Denver’s summer league roster that has the most to prove. He signed with the Nuggets after going undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft and did see a considerable amount of time last year.
Even though Stone averaged around eight minutes per game, he didn’t play that well at all. He rarely scored and didn’t find his teammates that often. He was a fair shooter from the field, but was awful from three-point range.
Stone is really going to have to shoot and play well overall in order to make the team for the second straight year. There are several other players that could take the spot he held last season if he fails to play at a high level.
Prediction: Stone makes the team, but is eventually cut after other guards step up. He will probably go overseas to continue his career.
Izzet Turkyilmaz, F, Turkey (2012 No. 50 Overall Pick)
Player Profile: 7'0'', 211 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 2.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 44.9 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 53.6 FT%
Player Breakdown: Izzet Turkyilmaz was the third and final draft selection of the Nuggets in the most recent NBA Draft. They must have seen something in his workouts because his numbers aren’t too impressive at all.
Turkyilmaz only averaged around nine minutes per game in 37 games last season and rarely scored. Even as a seven-foot option, he didn’t pull in that many rebounds or block too many shots. Denver must think he has potential to turn into a solid big man, but I don’t see it.
Summer league will be a time for the coaching staff to evaluate how Turkyilmaz compares to the other players. I have a feeling that they’re not going to be impressed and will regret selecting him.
Prediction: Turkyilmaz will return to Turkey for a few more seasons before coming over to the NBA, if he ever comes over.
Key Storyline for Denver Nuggets' Summer League: Development
The main storyline behind the play of the summer-league youngsters will be how many of them develop. Denver needs Kenneth Faried to develop into an All-Star caliber player whereas Jordan Hamilton can turn into an important player off of the bench.
It will also be a time where the coaching staff can fully evaluate how they made out in the draft. They took two risky players—Fournier and Turkyilmaz—whereas Miller is much safer. I think that Fournier will end up staying with Denver, but Turkyilmaz will likely return to Turkey.
All of the players on Denver’s summer league roster would love an NBA contract, but the spots are limited and many of them will depart disappointed. Being cut isn’t the end of the world. Those who don’t make the team need to continue to develop and may get another shot in the future.