Trey Lyles remembers just as much about the Nuggets as they did about him. The first time he was in town was in 2015, for a pre-draft workout. The Nuggets were impressed with him. Lyles was just as impressed with the Nuggets and the city.
“Denver was one of the better cities that I went to and I really liked it,” said Lyles in a phone interview with Nuggets.com. “So, I’m looking forward to being there all of the time now.”
After being traded to the Nuggets on Thursday night, he will be. The former lottery pick, with the Utah Jazz, was dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for the rights to the No. 13 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell and the 24th pick (Tyler Lydon).
“I heard the news through my agent,” Lyles said. “He called me before it happened, and (Jazz coach) Quin Synder called me as well. So, I knew before it happened. I’m excited about coming and joining the team. I’m excited about being in the city of Denver.”
Lyles knew how much the Nuggets liked him back in 2015.
“Yeah, just from talking to the coaches and management,” Lyles said. “I worked out pretty well. That was one of my better workouts. I shot the ball really well in that workout. I remember that vividly. They told me they liked me a lot and that they hoped they would be able to get back in to be able to have a chance (to draft me). But it didn’t work out that way, but it’s alright because I’m with them now and I’m excited about that.”
The Nuggets liked Lyles’ ability to shoot and get to the rim in a 6-foot-10 package. He showed flashes of that in two seasons with the Jazz but looks forward to the opportunity to play better basketball in Denver.
Looking back at his time with the Jazz, Lyles knows there’s work to be done.
“I played a lot, well, not a whole lot but played a good amount at the beginning of last year,” Lyles said. “Played not to my highest level for a while and lost my minutes and pretty much came out of the rotation and didn’t see the floor at all towards the end of the season. It was an up-and-down season last year. I wasn’t able to do the things that I wanted to.
“I think going into a new situation and new atmosphere with new guys I think I’ll be able to showcase what I’m able to do a little bit better. It’s a young team with a lot of young guys and I think I’ll fit in pretty well with everybody. I’m a hard-worker and competitor, so it’s definitely going to show. This year I’m hoping to be able to do some things that I wasn’t able to do in Utah.”
Lyles says the Nuggets’ offense fits him.
“From what I’ve faced, it’s free-flowing,” Lyles said. “Guys have the freedom to do certain things and I think that’s going to fit my game well. The dribble-drive is going to fit my game well. We did that at Kentucky, so I’m used to that offense.”
Lyles is currently working out in Indianapolis, but will be in Denver on Monday. Improving his footspeed and explosiveness to aid his defense has been a key focus, he said. And he’s already familiar with a few of his new teammates. He and Gary Harris are friends. Though Lyles is from Canada, both attended high school in Indiana. He is very familiar with fellow Canadian Jamal Murray, and says he knows Nikola Jokić from international competition growing up.
What’s he bringing to the Nuggets?
“I think another versatile player,” he said. “Somebody who is able to do more than one thing. A playmaker, scorer, shooter, good passer, a good teammate. Somebody who competes 24-7. I hate to lose, so, bringing in a winning attitude and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win the game.”