Preparation for 2013-14 starts now for Evan Fournier

Denver Nuggets guard eager to start play at NBA Summer League
by Aaron Lopez

Evan Fournier doesn’t lack for confidence.

The day after he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, Fournier declared that his objective was to play in the NBA without spending another year overseas. He made his NBA debut four months later.

As a 20-year-old rookie, Fournier played sparingly for much of the season but earned a bigger role down the stretch after teammate Danilo Gallinari went down with a knee injury. Fournier averaged 12.3 points to help Denver win eight of its final nine games.

The late-season success was tempered by a disappointing playoff series. Fournier saw limited minutes after struggling early in the series, and the Nuggets fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

“I’m still a little angry,” Fournier said after a workout at Pepsi Center this week. “I had an opportunity with Gallo hurt. I played well at the end of the season. That’s positive. At the same time, I’m very ambitious, so I expected a little bit more. But for the first season, that’s not bad.”

After spending some time back home in France, Fournier returned to Denver last month to begin preparing for 2013-14.

The Nuggets have a new coach in Brian Shaw and an opening on the wing after Andre Iguodala opted to join the Warriors in free agency.

“Of course it’s a new opportunity for me,” Fournier said. “I have big expectations for this season. It starts now with the summer league.”

The Nuggets open play at the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas on Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Fournier is joined on Denver’s roster by 2012-13 teammates Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller, along with 2013 second-round draft pick Erick Green.

Hamilton led the Nuggets in scoring in Las Vegas last year, averaging 19.2 points in five games. Fournier averaged 14.8 points, while Miller scored 6.8 points per game.

Miller has been on the Pepsi Center practice court as much as any other player this summer, working on his ball-handling and 3-point shooting. He is looking forward to improving his play from last year’s summer league.

“Last year, I was real anxious,” Miller said. “I didn’t really know the NBA game. It was fresh to me. It was like I was antsy. I just wanted to do so good and I wasn’t calm. This year I’m going to go in there calm and more experienced. I’ll be more comfortable.”

After facing Milwaukee on Saturday, the Nuggets will play Chicago on Monday and Washington on Tuesday. After three games, all 22 teams in Las Vegas will be seeded for a single-elimination tournament leading up to a championship game July 22.

Denver went 1-4 last year – a record that Fournier hasn’t forgotten 12 months later.

“I definitely want to play better than last year,” he said. “I played well, but we lost a lot of games. I play to win games, first of all. I also want to get to know my teammates better on the court. Me, Q and J-Ham didn’t play a lot together (in 2012-13). We want to have fun and compete.”