The Denver Nuggets faced off against the D-League Select squad in their fourth NBA Summer League contest on Wednesday, July 16, and while they had a better showing than the last two blow-out losses, the final result was the same, as the Nuggets lost 75-87.
Tony Mitchell for the D-League squad led all scorers with 26 points and at times he appeared to be able to score at will against the hapless Nuggets.
Gary Harris and Erick Green led Denver, with 15 and 17 points respectively. Harris was extremely active on both ends of the court and even though his shot still wasn’t falling (he finished just 5-18 from the floor, including 2-6 from three-point territory), he attacked the basket and made his presence felt on defense. Harris recorded four steals, all of them coming in the first half, to go along with three rebounds and four assists. He also had five turnovers, which didn’t help matters. Green led the team in scoring but only finished with three assists. I personally think it was imperative for Green to show he could distribute the ball better in order to have a shot at a roster spot. Everyone knows the kid can score, but to crack the regular season roster, Tim Connelly and Brian Shaw have to know he can run the offense in order for his name to even be part of the conversation for the backup point guard role. At this point, I’m not convinced Green did enough to earn the spot, although he will definitely be a tough cut. If for some reason he doesn’t catch on with Denver, I fully expect him to sign somewhere and be on a roster this fall.
Quincy Miller went down with an ankle injury early in the game and he didn’t return. Honestly, it was probably for the best. I never like to see players get hurt, but the injury didn’t appear to be significant and, prior to going down, Q was basically invisible. In the nine minutes he played, Miller shot 1-6 from the floor, 0-4 from beyond the arc, and he had as many points (2) as fouls (2). After a great first two games, Miller regressed quite a bit. I’m still torn on Miller as a player. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be on this team next season, but it’s really going to be a make or break year for him. If he doesn’t show he can play at a consistently high level, and if he doesn’t do a better job of keeping his head in the game on defense, the 2014-15 season could be his last in a Nuggets uniform.
The Nuggets finished the game shooting just 37% compared to the D-League squad’s 53.2%. Despite winning the turnover battle, Denver just couldn’t put it all together to pull out the victory.
The loss leaves the Nuggets at 1-3 in the Summer League leading into their final game against the Lakers on Friday. After that, the hard work of finalizing the roster and getting the squad to gel begins. Despite the poor showing in Vegas, I’m excited about the upcoming season. Gary Harris is going to get some minutes this year, and we still haven’t seen Jusuf Nurkic in a Denver uniform. Along with the return of several injured players and the addition of Arron Afflalo, there is plenty to be excited about, Nuggets fans.