Summer League: Nuggets vs Suns Preview

Summer League: Nuggets vs Suns Preview

by Jonathan Huang

The Denver Nuggets now have a 3-1 record in the Las Vegas Summer League, including their first tournament victory against the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Denver will face the Phoenix Suns in a quarterfinal matchup at Thomas and Mack Center this afternoon.

Phoenix also comes into today’s game with an identical 3-1 record. The Suns’ lone loss comes against the Miami Heat, a team the Nuggets also fell to.

Headlined by big men Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, and former Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, the Phoenix Suns have a versatile roster that can score in the paint and from the outside. Forward Alan Williams has also been a force in Summer League averaging a double-double with 13.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Sharpshooter Devin Booker has played in two games, but according to Suns beat writer Paul Coro, Booker will sit out the rest of Summer League competition.

The Nuggets have a few weapons of their own.

Jamal Murray has played well In his first taste of NBA action, averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists over four games in Las Vegas. Murray’s best performance came against the Miami Heat, where he scored 29 points using smooth ball-handling, a variety of athletic drives, and long-range jumpers.

Jimmer Fredette has also showcased an improved skill set. Fredette is averaging 15.0 points, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals in Summer League.

Juan Hernangomez opened plenty of eyes with his aggressiveness and versatility. Hernangomez is averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game (2.5 offensive), and showed the ability to knock down the three-pointer as well.

Hernangomez, Petr Cornelie, and Ondrej Balvin will have to keep Bender, Chriss, and Williams off the boards. The Suns trio is averaging 26.3 rebounds in Las Vegas. Beyond that, Phoenix is crashing the offensive glass to the tune of 7.8 per game, so boxing out will be extra important to secure the defensive rebound. Murray and Fredette will matchup with Ulis, whose speed, scoring, court vision, and active hands make him a tough cover.

Tip-off will be at 4 p.m. MST and will be televised on ESPN2.

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