Denver Nuggets' 2019 Summer League: Three takeaways from tournament

by Alex Labidou Staff Writer

The Denver Nuggets’ Summer League came to end Saturday after a 105-96 defeat at the hands of the Houston Rockets in consolation play. Due to injuries and some roster transactions, the Nuggets struggled to find consistency and finished 1-4 in the tournament. However, there were some positives as the development of several players shown in Las Vegas could carry into the regular season. 

Here are three takeaways from the Nuggets’ 2019 Summer League: 

Vando for team MVP

Jarred Vanderbilt’s ability to consistently be a double-double threat each night gives him a slight edge as Denver’s standout in Las Vegas. In his first-ever Summer League tournament, the 20-year-old averaged 11.8 points and 11.3 rebounds (good for second in the tournament) on 56 percent shooting. 

After being frustrated with a four-point and seven-rebound debut against the Magic, Vanderbilt insisted wanting to show improvement on the offensive side of the floor and he delivered. The 6-foot-9 forward scored in double digits for the remainder of the tournament and showcased why he was a five-star recruit of Kentucky with a dominant 20-point, 17-rebound performance against the Warriors. While Vanderbilt had some growing pains throughout the tournament, especially with turnovers, he was one of the bright spots of the Nuggets Summer League roster. 

Brandon Goodwin, who averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 assists on 49 percent shooting, and Vlatko Čančar, who impressed with his athleticism and defense, deserve an honorable mention for their performances throughout Summer League. 

Vlatko’s grit and grind

Čančar didn’t have the best offensive performances in the tournament, averaging 8.8 points on 36 percent shooting, but he clearly passed the eye test – showing why he deserves to be on an NBA roster. He displayed some impressive athleticism and proved to be a solid defender throughout Summer League.

With the departure of Terence Davis after the opener and Michael Porter Jr. sitting out for precautionary reasons after suffering a sprained knee in a Summer League minicamp scrimmage, Čančar saw a healthy share of double teams. As a result, the small forward emphasized playing strong perimeter defense and hit the boards, averaging 4.3 rebounds. Though Čančar struggled with his shot, he never forced plays. He attacked the rim, showing an impressive vertical, and didn’t give away bad turnovers (1.5 per game, 0 in his last two outings). 

Tate’s freakish athleticism 

Once Davis departed to join the Toronto Raptors on a two-year contract, it opened up a spot at shooting guard on the Nuggets’ Summer League roster. Jae'Sean Tate showed some bright spots filling in at the two. 

Although Tate is still raw offensively, he managed to make an impact due to his physical style of play. He was chasing after loose balls, jumping over crowds for rebounds and even blocking a few shots. He finished the tournament averaging 7.3 points, 4.3 boards while shooting 50 percent. 


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