Sports

Nuggets Summer League preview 2024: Expanding Julian Strawther’s game and other storylines heading into Las Vegas


Andrew Munson had a Michael Malone moment Monday.

It was the first day of minicamp for the Nuggets’ Summer League team. Munson has worked closely with Malone for almost nine years, first as a video intern and now as Denver’s special assistant to the head coach. But Summer League is a time for aspiring coaches to get reps, too — not just burgeoning players. The Nuggets have handed Munson the head coach’s whistle for the next couple of weeks.

So he used it.

“He showed me a little Coach Mo-esque timeout,” Julian Strawther said.

Translation: a really angry timeout.

“We had a loose ball, and nobody got on the floor,” Munson said, shrugging. “We didn’t fly around like we’re supposed to. … I’ve been watching (Malone) for nine years, so I’ve got a good idea of how to do it.”

He doesn’t anticipate needing to call more of those timeouts once the games begin Friday in Las Vegas, considering the surplus of young enthusiasm brandished by the Nuggets, from their 15-man roster to the two-way and Exhibit 10 contracts. Still, Munson did admit after the rage timeout: “It felt pretty good. I get it now. I get it.”

Results in Summer League are always somewhat trivial, but the upcoming games should be informative for an organization relying heavily on youth. They mark the first opportunity to see first-round draft pick DaRon Holmes II compete as a Nugget, along with two-way signings Trey Alexander and PJ Hall. They also represent a progress report for second-year players Strawther, Jalen Pickett and Hunter Tyson, at least one of whom has a strong chance to become an everyday rotation player next season.

Munson will be the Makeshift Malone running the show.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity from Coach Malone and Calvin (Booth), letting me do this,” he said. “… As an assistant coach, you have all these grand ideas in your head. ‘I want to do this,’ and ‘We’re gonna do that.’ All of that. So now I’m in the position of: ‘Well, that didn’t work very well,’ or ‘Maybe I need to rethink that.’ So it’s just exciting to try some ideas maybe I’ve had, see how they work.”

Player to watch: Julian Strawther

Strawther knows as well as anyone: The loss of a starter at his position, while painful for Denver to absorb, means “there’s a lot of opportunity for the taking.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s departure in free agency has mostly been dissected through the lens of how Christian Braun fits into the starting unit. But arguably just as important is the next domino. Strawther is next in line to be the Nuggets’ second-string shooting guard. He was the most-used of Denver’s three rookies last season, and now he seems to be the most likely of the trio to enter the rotation.

Obviously, his shot needs to improve in 2024-25. The former Gonzaga sniper was only 29.7% from beyond the arc as a rookie. But he and the Nuggets have broader intentions for his development than just catching and shooting.

“He has the …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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