Why the Denver Nuggets went crazy after Vlatko Čančar took a charge in Summer League

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

There were less than two minutes remaining in the Denver Nuggets’ Summer League opener, and the Orlando Magic appeared to be closing in on tying the game after putting together a late run.

The Magic’s DaQuan Jeffries grabbed a defensive rebound and drove the ball coast-to-coast, attempting to score. Vlatko Čančar was there to greet him as the Nuggets’ forward held position and absorbed a hard charge by Jeffries. As Čančar fell to the ground, Denver’s bench erupted, delighted with the gutsy play. The Nuggets would hold on to win 84-79 and Čančar’s teammates rushed to congratulate him. The expression of raw emotion was new to the native Slovenian, who spent the past two years playing professionally in Spain.

“That was awesome, I’ve never experienced that [before],” Čančar said. “It was definitely a cool moment.”

According to players, Nuggets Summer League coach Jordi Fernandez preached physicality as a top priority for the Summer League roster throughout minicamp.

“That was just one of the hustle plays that we talked about,” Nuggets forward Jarred Vanderbilt told Nuggets.com. “It takes a lot for a guy to slide over and take a charge, we congratulate stuff like that.”

He added, “That's huge for us and our defense, him sacrificing his body to take that charge. Before the game, we talked about taking two charges [a game]. For him to take that, it was huge. Especially in that moment. Big play.”

The Nuggets impressed on defense against the Magic Sunday.

There was a 30-second stretch when both guard Jae’Sean Tate and forward Tyler Cook emphatically swatted away attempts from their opponents. The first block created a highlight-reel dunk opportunity for Tate. Denver held the Magic to 32 percent from behind the arc, outrebounded them and scored 28 points off turnovers.

“Our defense has been awesome, our energy from all 10 players who played has been really good,” Fernandez said.

Čančar’ sacrificing his body and taking the charge put his well-roundedness and toughness on full display. The 22-year-old joined the Nuggets’ 2018 Summer League roster with a reputation of being a shooter, but he showed plenty of fight on the defensive glass, grabbing five rebounds, and endured the contact from Jeffries to force a turnover.

“I think Vlatko is great because he’s so versatile offensively and defensively,” Fernandez said.

Moments like that can carry into the regular season.

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