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5 takeaways from the Nuggets' 106-62 blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies

Harrison Wind Avatar
July 10, 2016


LAS VEGAS — The Denver Nuggets ran the Memphis Grizzlies out of Cox Pavilion on day two of Summer League action 106-62. Here are five takeaways from their second game in Las Vegas.

More opportunities for Jamal Murray and Jimmer Fredette

With Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris sitting out tonight and most likely for the rest of Summer League, the opportunity was there for Jamal Murray and Jimmer Fredette to get more looks on the offensive end. Murray played 24 minutes, scored 6 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists, but could never really get going offensively. Murray was blanketed throughout the night by fellow Kentucky Wildcat Andrew Harrison and rookie Wade Baldwin, shot only 2-11 from the field, and it was hard for him to find open looks from the perimeter. Murray did make a couple nice passes in traffic, played well off the ball, and was able to initiate the offense effectively, but we’re still waiting for that breakout performance from the No. 7 overall pick.

“I think that’s more on me at the end of the day,” coach Micah Nori said postgame on Murray’s lack of open looks. “As hot as Jimmer got, all the ATO’s we’re running stuff for Jimmer and running stuff for the other guys and letting Jamal just kind of initiate the offense so that’s on me. As far as his shots, a lot of them were forced. You go 2-11, a lot of them were up against the clock, a lot of them he had to take and that’s my fault as a coach, not helping him get better looks. Hopefully these next three days I’ll be able to do that, but that’s not on him at all, I’ve got to help him get open.”

Fredette did have his coming out party tonight to the tune of 26 points, including four threes in 26 minutes. The 27-year-old was oddly left wide open in transition and in the halfcourt through the first three quarters and made the defense pay. He was also efficient driving and dishing in the paint and usually made the right play when he was out there. Murray, Fredette, and the rest of the starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter and their totals could have been a lot higher if tonight’s game had been competitive.

Petr Cornelie playing within himself

Cornelie, who didn’t connect on a field goal in Denver’s opening night victory over the Timberwolves was efficient and effective against the Grizzlies. The 20-year-old started at center for a second straight game and was 7-11 from the field, including one corner three and finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Cornelie still struggled at times to defend the interior, specifically against JaMicahel Green, who has two years of experience and what looks like 20 pounds on the rookie, but shined on offense. Cornelie played to his skill-set, rolled to the rim with determination, and kept his composure throughout the night despite playing against a much stronger and more experienced Memphis frontline.

“[Cornelie] stayed within himself,” Nori said. “We’ve asked him to roll, and he’s a very good shooter on the perimeter, but he is rolling, he’s a big body at the rim, he’s long. But I’m happy for him.”

Axel Toupane and JaKarr Sampson got loose

After they both saw limited action against Minnesota, Axel Toupane (25 minutes) and JaKarr Sampson (16 minutes) saw the floor plenty against Memphis. I know it’s Summer League and he only played spot minutes for Denver last season, but I think the Nuggets might have something in Axel Toupane. He’s an efficient offensive player who doesn’t waste dribbles or take unnecessary shots and is a plus on the defensive end. He had a couple crafty finishes in transition and scored 10 points on 8 shots and recorded 8 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Sampson was looking to score the ball whenever it was in his hands tonight, perhaps trying to make up for last night when he went scoreless in nine minutes. His jumper, which isn’t pretty, was working for him as he went 1-3 from three and 4-7 overall. There may come a time later this fall, when the Nuggets choose between Toupane and Sampson, who are both on partially guaranteed contracts, for one of their last roster spots. If the decision was mine, I’d opt for Toupane without thinking twice.

Jamal Murray couldn’t get loose

Jamal Murray has struggled through 1.5 games of Summer League but it’s absolutely too early to panic or think twice about the Nuggets’ first-round pick. Like I touched on earlier, Murray was defended well by a combination of Andrew Harrison, who may have had some extra Kentucky pride on the line in tonight’s matchup, and Wade Baldwin, who has some of his own motivation going up against Murray who plays similar position and was drafted ten spots ahead of him earlier this year.

“This team did a good job [on Murray],” Nori said. “The Baldwin kid, they were picking up full court. They did a good job of pressuring him which is what a lot of teams will do to a young point guard and that being said, tonight, with no Emmanuel, he ran the point. Again, he’s worried more about his shot but at the end of the day he’s going to make shots. He’s a shooter. You know you have a bad game but he’s going to be alright. The five turnovers, not to be alarmed, that’s the first time that he’s played major minutes at the point guard in an NBA caliber game. They did a good job of pressuring him.”

Emptying the bench

A 44-point Summer League win gives you the chance as a coach to empty the bench and play some of the guys you brought to Las Vegas who won’t end up on your roster next season. Josh Adams, Ondrej Balvin and Mateusz Pontika all got a healthy amount of minutes and Colorado local products Josh Scott and Antwan Scott both saw the floor and logged a couple minutes as well. I would have liked to see a bit more of Murray, Juan Hernangomez, and the starters, but the Nuggets will have a minimum of three more games in Las Vegas that could be more competitive to get those guys playing time. Murray and the starters should also see an increase in minutes going forward since Mudiay and Harris will not play again here at Summer League.

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