Denver Nuggets’ Tim Connelly: Vlatko Čančar will surprise people

The Nuggets enter the 2019-20 season possessing some of the most exciting rookies in franchise history. Former McDonald’s All-American MVP Michael Porter Jr. is set to see some action this season, while Bol Bol has drawn a lot of attention with his potential as a 7-foot-2 center with range. Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly believes fans will also be impressed with what they see out of recent European import Vlatko Čančar.

“Vlatko has done of great job of developing since we drafted him,” Connelly said in an interview with Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM on Thursday. “He’s going to surprise people with his ability to guard several positions. He’s a really bright kid, a really tough kid, a humble guy that will continue to develop.”

He pointed to Čančar’s success in the Spanish top division along with the forward winning the European Championship with Slovenia last year as important strides in his development. While Čančar developed a reputation as solid shooter, it was his defense that stood out during this year’s Summer League. It was his progress in that area along with his versatility that likely led to his earning an NBA contract this summer.

Connelly joined the radio station to promote his upcoming charity ping pong fundraiser and shared his view of basketball’s growth worldwide. With the Nuggets continuing to be praised for their approach to international recruitment, Connelly discussed the evolving nature of the NBA and why more global standouts are joining the league.

“We see the numbers [of international players] increase every year.” he said. “The majority of the NBA is still American players but what I think is neat about basketball, and maybe soccer, is its global appeal…Basketball has an international feel to it and the ability to be liked and played worldwide.”

It is due to that sentiment of global appeal and pride that Connelly was happy to see a trio of Nuggets’ players in the tournament. He insisted he’s not worried about Nikola Jokić’s involvement at the World Cup, despite the center playing a lengthy campaign for the Nuggets last season.

“We’re proud of all of the guys who play on national teams -- Mason [Plumlee], Juancho [Hernangómez] and Nikola” Connelly said in an interview with Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM on Thursday. “The key for Nikola is him having fun. We want to make sure we have an environment where he can really enjoy [himself]. He’s grown up in that with Denver.”

Jokić and Hernangómez played significant roles in the summer’s tournament, with the latter’s Spain receiving Gold Medal honors as the competition’s winner.