Gary Harris, Quincy Miller and Erick Green have all had strong starts to their Las Vegas Summer League.
The Nuggets have made a series of moves this offseason, hoping to be back in the playoff picture next year. Despite adding veterans such as Arron Afflalo, the Nuggets still have a very intriguing summer league team. The premier names are 2012 No. 38 pick Quincy Miller, 2013 No. 46 pick Eric Green and Gary Harris, a rookie who was drafted No. 19 overall this year. So how did they get fare in their first two games of summer league?
Gary Harris – Shooting Guard
Harris had the best first game of any rookie so far connecting on 10-17 of his field-goal attemps and finishing with 33 points. Harris was on fire from beyond the arc, finishing 5-10 from downtown. However, the versatility of Harris’s scoring should be what really excites Nuggets fans. Harris hit two of his 3′s in transition, smartly leaking out to the corner, showing his high basketball IQ. Once the Hawks ran him off the 3-point line, he showed his slashing ability, including some nice pull-up jump shots. One one drive in particular saw Harris enter the paint and utilize a crafty finish. Despite being somewhat undersized for a two guard at 6-4, he laid the ball in high off the glass. Some scouts felt Harris might play some point guard in the NBA. Despite showing some basic pick and roll skills, he didn’t really show the ball-handling or vision to add any evidence to that theory, including getting his pocket picked by Bruno Caboclo.
In Harris’s second game, he came back to earth, hard. Matched up against the much bigger Tony Snell, Harris struggled to get his shot off. He finished just 1-12 from the field, but did get to the free-throw line, where he hit 7-7. Harris also struggled defensively against the 6-foot-7 Snell. Even when Harris did close out, Snell was able to simply rise over him and shoot. That’s why height is so important – this is still a matchup league, and a three- or four-inch difference is huge. Inconsistency like this is to be expected from rookies, so this shouldn’t shock anyone. We have most likely seen the best and worst of Harris in these two games, I expect him to end up averaging somewhere in the middle.
Quincy Miller – Power Forward
Miller has come to the summer league to play. He has really taken on a lead role with the Nuggets and hasn’t shied away from the big shot. At times, Miller looks to have forced the issues, especially early on in the first game where he ran a couple “out of control” isolation plays. However, you can’t argue with the impressive statistics he has put up. Miller finished up with 23 points (5-9 field goals, 4-5 from 3, 9-11 free throws) against the Hawks and 26 points against the Bulls (11-20 FGs, 3-7 3-pt FGs, 1-2 FTs). Despite shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range last year, Miller looks to have really improved his shot this summer making 50 percent of his attemps so far. Some may say this is just a hot streak, which is certainly possible, but when you see the shot in person it looks balanced and consistent. There is a lot to like.
Defensively is where Miller must improve, despite having very good physical tools, Miller is an inconsistent defender. He is consistently late on rotations, doesn’t always put a hand up to challenge a shot and struggles to stop perimeter drives. The positive for Miller is these are aspects of his game that can all be improved with more effort. However, he has now been in the league two years, and you would think he might have figured that out by now? I think his inconsistent effort on the defensive end has been the major reason for him being in and out of the rotation in Denver (the 36 percent field-goal shooting probably doesn’t help, either).
Erick Green – Point Guard
Green, who led the nation in scoring in 2012-13 while at Virginia Tech, is a particularly interesting prospect to me. After being selected with the No. 46 pick of the 2013 NBA Draft he played for Montepaschi Siena in the Italian league last year. Green has started his Las Vegas Summer League well, looking consistently under control and providing a good mix of distributing and scoring. Green has showed much of his offensive versatility, hitting jump shots and scoring with a number of crafty floaters in the lane. If you haven’t seen Green’s jump shot, get ready for a shock. He has a very high, quick release which looks pretty odd, however, he gets it off pretty quickly and doesn’t have many bad misses. The key for Green is how he distributes the ball as he won’t have the green light to just come in gunning off the bench under Brian Shaw. He has had mixed results in his first two games, totaling just five assists and four turnovers. As bad as the box score might look, his all-around care of the ball and passing has been much better than that.
With Nate Robinson still working his way back from ACL surgery and Aaron Brooks being an unrestricted free agent, Green has a real shot to make the roster for the 2013-14 season. Evan Fournier moving onto Orlando should also help, as the young Frenchman logged some minutes at point guard last season. The big question hovering over Green is can he improve his assist numbers. He played 25 minutes per game in the Italian league last year, but averaged just one assist. That area clearly will have to improve.