Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets preview: Nuggets wrap up 2019 Summer League play

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

After an impressive victory over the Orlando Magic to open up their 2019 Summer League play, the Denver Nuggets dropped their last two games, which took them out of the running for the Summer League championship. As a result, Denver will face the Houston Rockets in their lone consolation game on Saturday.

Although the Nuggets (1-2) are disappointed with the results from their most recent games, there have been some bright spots for players such as Brandon Goodwin and Jarred Vanderbilt. Both players have showcased their talents and ability to fit into different roles within the team during Denver’s first three contests.

The Rockets (2-2) come into Saturday’s matchup on a two-game winning streak. Chris Clemons has been the driving force for Houston’s offense in Las Vegas, as he is averaging 21.5 points per game. Clemons went undrafted in June but was the 2018-19 NCAA Division I scoring champion. The Nuggets will have their hands full in limiting the 21-year-old’s offensive output.

Here are some keys for Saturday’s game:

1) Can Vanderbilt continue to build on success?

Throughout the Nuggets’ opening game against Orlando, Vanderbilt didn’t play with the type of control he was accustomed to. However, over the past two games, the 20-year-old forward has improved his play on both ends of the court and developed into Denver’s best player on the Summer League roster. "I feel like each game I've gotten better and been more comfortable,” Vanderbilt said following Denver’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. “I was a lot more under control tonight and made plays for myself and teammates.” In that game against the Warriors, Vanderbilt had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Look for him to continue thriving on both ends of the court during Saturday’s game.

2) Denver looks to repeat defensive success

In a losing effort on Wednesday, the Nuggets came to play defensively, as they forced 21 turnovers from the Warriors, which they were able to convert into 18 points. The Nuggets were active in the passing lanes and quick to contest shots, which will once again be key against the Rockets on Saturday.

3) Who will make a lasting impression in the final game?

Heading into 2019 Summer League, Vanderbilt and Goodwin were expected to play prominent roles for the Nuggets. After Terrence Davis’ breakout performance in game one against Orlando, who will be the next player to step up and showcase their skills? Jordan Davis has had some strong moments on both ends of the floor, while Jae’Sean Tate was active during Wednesday’s game as he finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. An impressive performance by one of Denver’s role players on Saturday could go a long way in determining their future in the league.

Saturday’s game will tip-off at 8 p.m. MT and will air on ESPN3.

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