We’re just one day away from Denver Nuggets basketball, finally! Although it is a summer league game, this is the first time the Nuggets have taken the floor since April 27 when their season came to an end following a first-round elimination by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
The Nuggets are scheduled to play four games in Las Vegas before entering the tournament, and unlike years past, it really looks like Denver could make some noise. The Nuggets not only have three exciting rookies in Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Ismael Kamagate, but they also have Collin Gillespie, who holds one of Denver’s two-way contracts.
With a two-way contract still up for grabs, that’s certainly something the rest of the players on the roster will be fighting for. Braun and Watson have secured roster spots, but for a player like Kamagate, who will likely play overseas next year, this could be a big week where he may play little and the Nuggets decide to keep him for next season.
One of the Nuggets’ first moves when free agency began last week was to sign DeAndre Jordan to add more depth at center position. Jordan’s game has certainly been on the decline in recent seasons, so maybe if Kamagate does well in Vegas, the Nuggets could bring him in on a two-way deal in hopes he becomes Denver’s backup center. long-term.
A lot of eyes are going to be on Kamagate, but who else should you be looking at when the Nuggets take the floor on Friday night? We cover it in our summer league handbook!
What do Braun and Watson look like?
Once the Nuggets acquired a second first-round pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it always felt like a bigger deal might be afloat. It never felt like the Nuggets were going to add two rookies to the roster, let alone three, but sometimes that’s how the draft works. Deals and trades you thought might happen don’t end up coming to fruition, and sometimes there are players on the board you think are too good to pass up.
It appears that’s exactly what happened to the Nuggets on draft night, as they ended up using both first-round picks on high-potential defensive players like Braun and Watson. Coming off a national championship season with Kansas last year, Braun has the potential to be a standout defender and secondary scorer with the Nuggets not only in the summer league, but will potentially compete for a spot in the rotation as soon as the next season.
Collin Gillespie and Christian Braun shooting the lights at practice right now. They’re ready for the Nuggets summer league. pic.twitter.com/Y2grM6l1gh
— Asher Levy (@asherlevynba) July 6, 2022
I would expect Braun to often defend opposing teams’ best player in summer league and take at least 10 shots a game, half of which came from beyond the 3-point line. Braun certainly has the potential to contribute as soon as next season and the summer league is a perfect place for him to show why that is the case.
Watson is another must-see player, as he was a surprise when the Nuggets drafted him 30th overall. After an up-and-down freshman season at UCLA, Watson entered the draft as a bit of an unknown with plenty of upside.
The Nuggets expect him to become a locked down defender, which are traits he showed at times last year with UCLA. At 6-foot-8, 200 pounds with a 7-foot-plus wingspan, Watson has very quick feet on the defensive end of the court and uses his athleticism not only to defend one-on-one, but also to play very good shot defense. aid. .
Defense isn’t really a concern for Watson, as the most important thing to watch with him is what he does offensively. Watson averaged just 3.3 points per game last season and shot just 22.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line. However, the sample size was so limited that we don’t really know what Watson might be on offense, which is something we should have more clarity on after summer league.
Who are some obscure names for the Nuggets’ two-way contract?
We mentioned Kamagate earlier as a player who could contend for the Nuggets’ final two-way spot, but who are other obscure candidates? Matt Mitchell is the first player that comes to mind as he turns heads at the Nuggets’ summer league practices. After a really solid four-year run at San Diego Stat that saw him win Mountain West Player of the Year in 2020-21, Mitchell went undrafted and spent last season playing in the same Paris league he was in. Kamagate played.
The three names I hear the most for two-way spots at Nuggets practices have been Adonis Arms, Matt Mitchell and Jack White. All bigger guys who can play good defense. There seems to be a pattern for the Nuggets this offseason.
— Asher Levy (@asherlevynba) July 5, 2022
At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, Mitchell has that big frame the Nuggets seem to be targeting this offseason and would give Denver another defender they could use off the bench. Mitchell can also score from inside the arc, from 3, and his potential to contribute on both ends of the floor is certainly something the Nuggets could look to. It also looks like Mitchell has the best chance to start for the Nuggets’ summer league team alongside Gillespie, Braun, Watson and Kamagate.
Another player who has excelled at summer league practices is Adonis Arms, who is 6-foot-5, 205 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan and is known for his tight defense. Arms is a phenomenal athlete who makes his mark on the defensive end of the court, but he can also surprise you with his leaps on the offensive end of the court.
Adonis Arms was asked if he thought his athleticism would translate. He asked for a ball and said “I’ve got something for you all” before throwing this away. He is a defender and an athlete. My personal pick for the two ways so far. #Nuggets pic.twitter.com/0Ry6EEMq4s
— Asher Levy (@asherlevynba) July 3, 2022
Another name to watch out for is Jack White, who graduated from Duke in 2019-20 and spent the last few seasons playing in the NBL with Melbourne United. White was part of Melbourne United’s NBL championship in 2021 and also spent time playing for the Australian national team.
It seems like this Nuggets summer league team is a little different than the ones of the past. Denver has a solid, well-rounded team and with three rookies leading the charge, it really looks like the Nuggets could make some noise not only in their first four games, but in the tournament as well.
With a two-way contract spot still up for grabs, everyone will be playing hard on both ends of the floor and I expect some positive results to come from that. Braun is also incredibly competitive and is coming off a national championship season, so you know he’s going to give it his all and hopefully the players around him will do the same.
The Nuggets’ first game is against the Minnesota Timberwolves tomorrow night at 7 pm MST and will air on NBA TV or ESPN3 if you have an ESPN account. Hopefully, it will be the start of an exciting summer for the Nuggets.