Nuggets tip off summer league club’s minicamp
The transition from rookie to veteran happens fast in the NBA.
Juancho Hernangomez was just trying to understand the American style of basketball a year ago, how the NBA worked and what the rules were. But now, coming into his second season with the Nuggets, the Spaniard feels right at home.
“It’s completely different,” he said. “Everything was a new thing (last year). Right now, I’ve got one year’s experience. I feel like I’m a better player, I feel like my groove is going on.”
Hernangomez, a 6-foot-9 forward, and other young Nuggets started a four-day minicamp Monday in preparation for the Las Vegas summer league. Hernangomez and second-year guard Malik Beasley headline the 14-man roster for Denver. The team’s recent draft picks, forward Tyler Lydon and guard Monte Morris, also will play in Las Vegas.
Hernangomez is expected to see limited action before he leaves to join Spain’s national team for EuroBasket 2017.
That means a spotlight will be on Beasley, who didn’t play much as a rookie. The Florida State product averaged 3.8 points in the 22 games he played last season. He spent the majority of his rookie season in the G-League, but he scored 16 and 17 points in wins to end the Nuggets’ season. He missed the summer league last year because of a stress fracture in his right leg.
Denver’s summer league coach, Micah Nori, said he wants Beasley to show improvement making plays off the dribble and show a willingness to guard multiple positions.
“Malik is probably right at the top of the priority list,” Nori said. “This is a chance for him to go out and play 35 to 40 minutes ... and just take things over.”
Nori added that he doesn’t want the team to run a lot of sets on offense in Las Vegas. He wants the players to get out and run. But a huge emphasis is being placed on improving on defense. The Nuggets ranked 29th among the NBA’s 30 teams in defensive efficiency last season.
“The biggest thing that we were talking about today was at the defensive end,” Lydon said. “Getting stops and getting out in transition and scoring that way.”
The Nuggets wrap up their minicamp Thursday and play their Las Vegas opener Friday against the Houston Rockets.