After unified September, Nuggets begin busy October

Denver hits ground running on first day of training camp
by Aaron Lopez

The start of 2012 training camp sparked a sense of nostalgia for the Denver Nuggets.

Some flashbacks went as far back as three weeks ago.

After a summer schedule loaded with voluntary workouts, the Nuggets officially went back to work Tuesday during the first day of training camp at Pepsi Center.

“It felt just like we were playing every day,” forward Corey Brewer said.

Brewer was among several Nuggets who spent much of September working out in Denver. The participation level impressed the coaching staff as well as veteran point guard Andre Miller, the team’s 36-year-old elder statesman.

“It showed that guys are committed to being better as a team by showing up early,” Miller said. “Guys are showing professionalism as far as being here early and being involved.”

Nuggets coach George Karl described it as the best September in his seven-plus seasons in Denver. The team will now look to build upon that foundation throughout October and beyond.

Tuesday’s first day of morning and evening workouts were the start of that process.

“We’re all excited and anxious to see what’s going to happen,” Karl said. “We’ll go figure out what we need to work on, what to put in, what to improve. It’ll be fun to see where it goes.”

With plenty of options to choose from, Karl plans to have fun experimenting with lineup combinations throughout the preseason.

He likes the idea of pairing Miller and young center JaVale McGee together off the bench as part of a second unit that boasts as much talent as many starting lineups.

“I have no idea who the starting lineup is, and it really doesn’t matter because it’s going to be a nine-, 10-man rotation,” Karl said. “If you’re going to play 30 minutes, it’s better coming off the bench because you get 20 minutes against the second-line guys. No one wants to understand that.”

Karl has always believed that being on the court in the final minutes of the fourth quarter is more important than hearing your name announced as part of the starting lineup.

“The most intriguing thing is how we finish,” he said. “That’s what I don’t know right now. How we finish is to be determined.”

The good news for Karl and his staff: They have four weeks and six preseason games to figure it out.

Health Report

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler and guard Julyan Stone are both recovering from hip injuries and will be limited in the early part of training camp. Chandler is further along than Stone but probably won’t start practicing on consecutive days for a couple weeks.

McGee left practice early Tuesday because of illness but Karl did not believe it to be serious.

Rookie Impresses

Nuggets rookie guard Evan Fournier was among the summer standouts for Denver, and the first day of training camp reflected his hard work.

At 6-foot-6, Fournier is a capable playmaker who can run the floor and knock down the perimeter shot.

“I honestly couldn’t yell at him very much (on the first day of practice) because he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Karl said.