The Denver Nuggets faced off against the Utah Jazz in their third NBA Summer League contest on Tuesday, July 15, and it was the second-straight lackluster showing by Denver.
For the Nuggets, rookie Gary Harris led the way with 18 points, but it came on 6-20 shooting, including an atrocious 1-7 performance from beyond the arc. Much like last game against the Bulls Summer League squad, Harris just couldn’t get his shot to fall consistently, but he kept firing. That’s the kind of mentality you usually want to see from a shooter, but you have to hope Harris has better shooting nights once the season gets started or he may not have a chance to shoot himself out of a slump once the games start counting. Harris did have another nice night from the free throw line, making all five of his attempts. His ability to draw contact and get to the line has been a bright spot, as has his effort on the defensive end of the court (he recorded another three steals against the Jazz, and his 2.3 steals per game average puts him in the top five of the category for the Las Vegas Summer League).
Quincy Miller took a major step back tonight, finishing the game with just 7 points on an abysmal 3-17 shooting display. Miller has shown flashes of brilliance during the first two Summer League games, but he settled for too many jump shots tonight and his jumper simply wasn’t falling, which isn’t a great combination. I just don’t know what to think about Miller. When the dude is focused and his head is in the game, he looks like he could be something special for the Nuggets. But too often he lays back and takes what the defense gives him, and his work ethic on the defensive end of the court is inconsistent at best. This year’s Summer League felt like it was Q’s chance to really establish himself as one of the young bucks on the Nuggets roster, but instead he may have simply reaffirmed the perception that he’s destined to bounce around the league as a career deep-bench guy. I really hope he can elevate his game during the remaining Summer League outings and prove he deserves to be part of next year’s rotation for Denver.
Erick Green posted another solid performance, finishing with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He’s probably been the most consistent player for the Nuggets during the run in Vegas, but I’m not sure he’s done enough to earn a spot on the preseason roster. He’s shown he can put up 10+ points a game versus this level of competition, but he hasn’t excelled at distributing the ball or creating offensive opportunities for his teammates. Green really needs to make this his focus in the remaining Summer League games or he may find himself exploring other options, such as a spot on a D-League roster, once the 2014-15 season rolls around.
Jerelle Benimon had another great night on the boards, grabbing 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Benimon’s efforts on the glass have been nice to see, and he’s proving himself to be a force down low. He now ranks third in the Las Vegas Summer League with an average of 11 boards per game. Unfortunately, the Nuggets regular season roster is packed with big men, so Benimon may simply be auditioning for other teams at this point.
All in all, it’s been a disappointing run for the Nuggets the last two games. After shooting the lights out and looking unstoppable in the first game against Toronto, the Summer Nuggets have regressed and turned in two rather embarrassing performances. They’ll have a chance to turn it around tonight when they face the D-League Select team at 10 p.m. ET in an elimination game. Every player on the roster could use more time to work on their games and make an impression on the Denver front office, so hopefully they’ll get past the D-League squad and live to play another day.
What do you think, Nuggets fans? Are you disappointed by the Nuggets’ Summer League performance or is this exactly what you expected from this group? Share your thoughts in the comments below.