Preview: Denver Nuggets take on Mavericks in fourth Summer League game

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer

Following a tough loss to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night, the Denver Nuggets will look to bounce back and win their first game of Summer League Saturday afternoon against the Dallas Mavericks.

Despite plenty of highlights from Bones Hyland and Bol Bol, Denver lost a lead in the fourth quarter for a third consecutive loss to open Summer League. Tarik Black (8 points on 3-of-3 shooting), Caleb Agada (10 points and five assists) stood out off Denver’s bench against Phoenix.

Dallas’ Summer League squad has also struggled this week, going 0-2 heading into Saturday’s contest. The Mavericks’ summer team is led by sophomore guard Tyrell Terry, who scored 22 points in their first game back on Monday.

Here are some areas to focus on in Saturday’s contest (1 pm MDT, NBATV).

More reps for Bones

After a slow start in Thursday’s contest, Hyland caught fire in the second quarter, which carried over into the third frame. Showcasing his unique scoring abilities, Hyland was able to mix in drives to the rim with deep 3-pointers, which kept the defense on its toes every time the ball was in his hands.

Denver’s Summer League Head Coach Charles Klask even mentioned putting the ball more in the 20-year-old’s hands as Summer League continues, which will give Hyland more opportunity to mix in playmaking with scoring. In the fourth quarter, Hyland connected with Bol in the pick-and-roll for a highlight-worthy play, highlighted by Hyland’s impressive bounce pass through multiple defenders.

Who will step up on Denver’s second unit?

As mentioned earlier, Tarik Black and Caleb Agada had impressive performances Thursday night, which allowed Denver to stay in the game when the starters were resting. Agada did a nice job of getting teammates involved (five assists) while also looking for his shot (10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers).

Meanwhile, Black provided a physical presence inside the paint for Denver, which he showcased by finishing through contact for an and-one bucket in the first quarter. Black also chipped in with a steal and block on the defensive end of the floor.

The remaining Summer League games provide players such as Deonte Burton, Zylan Cheatham, and Semaj Christon an opportunity to stand out and contribute.

Nnaji still getting comfortable

Following a delayed arrival to Las Vegas, Zeke Nnaji has struggled to find his shot in his first two Summer League games. The 20-year-old big man shot 2-of-10 from the field Thursday night, but was active on the boards, finishing with nine rebounds in his 29 minutes of action.

If Nnaji can find a rhythm over the remaining games, it will go a long way in boosting the sophomore forward’s confidence heading into the 2021-22 NBA season. Look for Denver to continue to get Nnaji reps and shots within the flow of the offense Saturday.


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