Denver Nuggets Summer League 2019: Three takeaways from win vs. Magic

by Alex Labidou Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS – Good things come to those who wait.

Two days after the Nuggets’ Summer League opener was canceled, the team responded with an elite defensive performance against the Orlando Magic in a 84-79 result.

“Our defense has been awesome, our energy from all 10 players who played has been really good,” Summer League head coach Jordi Fernandez said.

Denver hounded Orlando all over the floor and was particularly suffocating in the first quarter, where it held its opponent to 40 percent shooting and dominated the glass 12-4. The Nuggets would finish the game holding the Magic to just 32 percent from downtown. The team also showed some positive signs on offense.

Undrafted rookie Terence Davis had a strong showing in his first taste of NBA competition as he led the team with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Vlatko Čančar, Denver’s 2017 second-round pick, also showed glimpses of his potential with 12 points and five rebounds on 55.4 percent shooting. Fernandez was impressed with the collective effort shown by his team.

“The whole team [impressed],” Fernandez said. “Everyone was getting excited for each other, even the guys who didn’t play.”

The Nuggets (1-0) return to action Tuesday when they face the Boston Celtics at Cox Pavilion in a nationally-televised game on ESPN 2 (6 p.m. MT).

Here are three takeaways from the victory:

Terence Davis impresses

During minicamp, Davis mentioned wanting to show why he can be an effective 3-and-D player for NBA teams. He certainly made his case on Sunday.

READ MORE: Terence Davis looks to showcase versatility

The 22-year-old stands at 6-foot-3 but he was a menacing presence on both sides of the floor against the Magic. He had arguably the best defensive play of the game, going in for an athletic swat with 3:14 remaining in the second quarter.

“He was awesome,” Fernandez said. “I’ve said it from day one, he’s an NBA player. He proved it today and I think he’ll keep doing it because this kid is mentally tough.”

Davis was excited to be in the starting five and he wanted to capitalize with a strong offensive performance.

“With me starting at the two, I knew I would have opportunities and I took advantage of it,” Davis said.

If there’s one area where Davis can improve, it’s limiting his fouls. He amassed four quick fouls in the first quarter and was sitting on five heading into the fourth quarter.

Brick wall

The Nuggets likely put Summer League on notice with fierce and at times, ruthless, defensive performance in their first game of the tournament.

Early on in the fourth quarter, Jae’Sean Tate would spike Amile Jefferson’s shot into the glass before sprinting to the other side of the court to unleash a ferocious dunk. Moments later, Tyler Cook would follow suit, sending Vic Law’s out of bounds. Those two back-to-back plays epitomized Denver’s effort throughout the entire game.

While the Nuggets’ offense is still trying to develop chemistry and rhythm, their work on the other side was encouraging.

Vlatko shows flashes

Čančar is still working his way back from a minor injury, but he proved why he could be a potentially effective player for the Nuggets next season.

READ MORE: Vlatko's Blog: Differences between NBA and Europe

The 22-year-old has a quick release and showcased some physicality as well, going in for a thunderous slam with his first bucket of the game. He was also active on the glass and made an impact on defense late in the game, diving for a loose ball and taking a charge in consecutive plays. His teammates erupted after he drew contact on the offensive foul.

“That was awesome, I’ve never experienced that [before],” Čančar said. “Was definitely a cool moment.”

Čančar also lived up to his billing as a shooter with range as he hit 2-of-4 from downtown in Denver’s win.

“Vlatko can do everything,” Fernandez said. “He can guard multiple positions, playmaking and he always has a smile on his face. All of it combined, it’s pretty awesome.”


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