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DENVER — The Denver Nuggets are more than halfway through their four-day Summer League mini-camp which wraps up Thursday afternoon. The team is set to depart to Las Vegas for their first Summer League game against the Houston Rockets on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
Here’s what’s stood out on day three of practice:
Beasley, Hernangomez continue to be heavily featured
Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, the two players on Denver’s Summer League roster who were with the Nuggets last year, will be coach Micah Nori’s go-to options on offense. Nori and his staff have gone as far as putting in sets and specific actions to get both of the second-year players looks in the halfcourt.
“You will see some stuff specifically run (for Malik and Juancho),” Nori said. “And I was talking about it this morning with coach Malone, ‘what three sets will we have that are specific Malik, what three sets will we that are specific for Juancho.’ But you absolutely want to put them in position, especially game on the line, tie game, what not, just so they can make a play.”
For Beasley, who saw action in just 22 games with the Nuggets last season playing mostly garbage time, it’s an opportunity he’s looking forward to.
“They’re running plays for us and they’re on us more than they’re on the other guys if we mess up,” Beasley told BSN Denver. “It’s always good to be the No. 1 option, but I’m just going to play my game and keep doing what I do.”
The 20-year-old did experience being a No. 1 option at times when he was on assignment with Sioux Falls in the D-League last season. Beasley averaged 18.9 points on nearly 15 field goal attempts per game with the Skyforce last season so expect a similar output from the shooting guard in Las Vegas.
“There will be a couple sets for Malik, a couple sets for Juancho and then everything you’ll see will be how we played this year,” Nori said. “You say ‘equal opportunity’, but if you do the right things it will hopefully create shot for everybody and specifically find the guys that you want to take or make those shots.”
Cornelie trying to put a disappointing season in France behind him
Denver’s 2016 draft-and-stash prospect Petr Cornelie is in his second-straight Summer League mini-camp and like the rest of the Nuggets’ invites, is trying to earn a roster spot.
But abroad in France last season, Cornelie struggled. He was only able to see the floor for 14.5 minutes per game, and averaged 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. Le Mans, Cornelie’s club in France where he’s spent the last four seasons, finished 12th in the French Pro A League and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
“It wasn’t that good of a season as a team, we had a really bad season,” Cornelie told BSN Denver. “It was a bad season for me individually speaking. It wasn’t what I expected. I still have one year with them under contract but I have some buyouts and everything. I might go with them if they call me. I don’t know, I’m under contract still.”
Last summer in Las Vegas, Cornelie played well. He averaged eight points through five Summer League games and peaked with a 19-point, 7-rebound outing against the Grizzlies. The 21-year-old continues to show potential as a springy big man who can stretch the defense out to the three-point line. Keep an eye on Denver’s likely starting five-man in Vegas over the next week.
Lydon adjusting well on defense
How No. 24 overall pick Tyler Lydon shows on the defensive end of the floor in his rookie year is the biggest question mark facing the 21-year-old. Even if injuries thin Denver’s rotation, which they likely will at some point next season, the biggest factor that will determine if Lydon sees the court is if Michael Malone and his staff are confident enough in the 6-foot-10 stretch-fours ability to communicate and play man-to-man defense — something he didn’t do during his two years at Syracuse.
“A lot of times Syracuse kids get a little bit of a rough knock because they play zone. The one thing great about him is he listens, he partakes in his own recovery. In other words, when he makes a mistake he wants to know why he did that,” Nori said of Lydon. “There are some zone principles in our defense a lot of times on that weak side so he’s good there but just to play man-to-man and the multiple efforts it takes that you’re not always in that one area, have to close back out to a guy, that’s new to him.”
Lydon’s slight frame at just 225 pounds won’t do him any favors when playing against bruising four-men but he’s a high-IQ big according to the coaching staff which will carry his development on defense.
Lydon’s coming along well and will play a significant role in Las Vegas.
“Even in the four days that we’ve had practices and even prior to that right after we drafted him and he was working out, he’s done a good job of trying to catch up defensively,” Nori said.