Denver Nuggets: What the new G-League affiliate means for development

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /
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Denver Nuggets, PJ Dozier
Credit: C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images /

Denver Nuggets: Prior track record with player development

Though they did make a splash at this year’s trade deadline to acquire a semi-big name in Aaron Gordon, who will be key to Denver’s success this year, the Nuggets are not generally known to be big players in the free agency and trade market.

The only players to make an All-Star game for Denver over the past decade, Nikola Jokic and Carmelo Anthony, were both drafted by the team and the next best guy, Jamal Murray, was also a Denver draft choice.

The only major, major additions from outside in recent memory were point guards Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups, who had varying levels of success during the twilights of their illustrious careers.

That’s all to say that the Nuggets are a team that prides itself on developing their own talent without outside help, and considering they were one of the only teams without a G League squad, that’s an impressive feat.

The Nuggets have also made the playoffs in 14 of the past 19 years and have chosen inside the top 10 just twice since taking ‘Melo in 2003, one of which was used on the Blue Arrow. Despite their lack of a farm system or access to the top draft picks, Denver has been able to identify and develop underrated talent at an impressive rate in recent years.

The NBA’s presumptive MVP this season, Nikola Jokic, was a 41st overall pick back in 2014 for crying out loud. Facundo Campazzo has been the definition of a diamond in the rough as a 30-year-old rookie taking over Denver’s backcourt as all of his fellow Nugget guards are felled one by one by injury.

Though they haven’t had their own G League affiliate, the Nuggets have farmed out their development to the systems of other teams. Last season Bol Bol, Vlatko Cancar, and the now-departed Jarred Vanderbilt were all shipped out to further their development. The Nuggets had to deal with three different coaching staffs for the development of that trio last season, each of whom had their own agendas and ideas.

Now that they’ve got their own shop, the Nuggets can bring in the coaches they like and identify as the best for their schemes. And those schemes will, in all likelihood, be very similar to what their parent team is running, which would allow for more fluid movement of prospects and players from G League to NBA and vice versa.

While they are no longer in Denver, Torrey Craig and Malik Beasley have both turned into solid NBA pros, the latter of which has emerged as a possible All-Star talent. The pair had spent significant periods in the G League while with the Nuggets, which doubtless boosted their improvements as overall players.

Next. How the bench mob is keeping Denver alive. dark

One of the best reserve guards in the game, Monte Morris, as well as emerging talent PJ Dozier were also loaned out to G League teams to get schooled and bootstrap their development. Dozier actually played so well for the Windy City Bulls that he nearly earned himself G League MVP honors last season.

Unfortunately, the Nuggets are unlikely to have the services of either Morris or Dozier for the stretch and playoff run this season, with the backcourt duties falling onto the diminutive but capable Argentinian shoulders of Facundo Campazzo.