Denver Nuggets 77, Miami Heat 97: Three takeaways from 2021 Summer League opener

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Denver Nuggets roster was impacted by Health and Safety protocols and couldn’t keep up with the Miami Heat, dropping a 97-77 result in their opening Summer League game.

Denver was led by Bol Bol and Caleb Agada, with both players finishing with 21 points apiece. RJ Nembhard Jr. led Miami with 18. 

The Nuggets missed several players due to Health and Safety protocols, including 2021 first rounder Bones Hyland along with Zeke Nnaji and Markus Howard. Those players were expected to join Bol Bol as key components of Charles Klask’s offense. With the absences, the Nuggets fought valiantly on defense but shot just 36.1 percent on the night.

Denver will be hoping for some reinforcements when it takes on the Boston Celtics Tuesday night (5 p.m. MT, ESPNU).

Here are the takeaways:

Bol shows some positive signs

Bol didn't shoot the ball well but excelled in several areas as he finished with 21 points, five rebounds, two blocks while shooting 36.4 percent. 

Klask mentioned in his pretournament presser that he’d like to give Bol a similar role to Nikola Jokić, where the 21-year-old could be a facilitator and handle the ball. The center showed an impressive handle throughout the contest and was rewarded with 14 trips to the foul line. He also impacted the game defensively, using his length to redirect shots or coral rebounds to himself or teammates.

Bol could potentially have better offensive opportunities when Howard, Nnaji, and Hyland return.

Agada, Davon Reed stands out

Summer League is all about opportunity. For rostered players like first and second-year draft picks, it’s a chance to showcase improvement and make a case for more playing time. For unsigned players like Agada and Davon Reed, it is a chance to show they belong. Both showed some positive things in the Nuggets’ opener, despite the outcome.

Agada got off to a slow start offensively but impacted the game in several areas before he got going. The point guard, who represented Nigeria in the 2020 Olympics this summer, added eight rebounds and dished out five assists. 

Reed was drafted 32nd overall by the Suns in 2017, but he’s struggled to find his place in the NBA so far. He’s played for Phoenix and the Indiana Pacers along with three stops in the G League. In addition, he’s also featured in Taiwan with the Taoyuan Pilots. Reed would show some decent range, hitting two threes and also finishing with a nice reverse lay-in in the first quarter.

Three-point defending, turnovers need improvement

The Heat hit 13 of 35 from downtown, an area the Nuggets will have to improve at if they want to beat the Celtics Tuesday.

With Denver having some size in the frontcourt, Miami attacked the team’s perimeter defense in the first quarter to build a 30-12 advantage. While the Nuggets would gradually improve, especially in the second half, the damage was already done.

Ball movement is another area where the team will be looking to focus on. Denver had just 13 assists to 21 turnovers. 

Some of these issues are due to the aforementioned roster issues. Tuesday will hopefully see a boost in that area. 

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