Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay's Former High School Teammate, Terrance Ferguson, Works Out with Nuggets
Terrance Ferguson could feel right at home on the UCHealth Practice Court at the Pepsi Center on Thursday. [...]
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Cavaliers now must pray the Warriors simply beat themselves
The Cleveland Cavaliers looked like they were going to win one against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in the 2017 NBA Finals. Then the Warriors closed with an 11-0 run and the Cavaliers’ best effort of the series went to waste. LeBron James was the best player on the court, scoring 39 points along with 11 rebounds and nine assists. Kyrie Irving chipped in 38 points, making this the seventh time two teammates each scored at least 35 points in a non-overtime NBA Finals game. In the previous six instances, the dynamic duo walked away winners. But James and Irving weren’t able to secure the win, despite a late-game win probability of 92.6 percent. This begs the question: what more does Cleveland have to do in order to avoid a sweep? The answer, it seems, is hope the Warriors beat themselves. Golden State has yet to lose in the playoffs, and seeks to become the first team ever to go undefeated in the postseason. They lost just 15 times during the regular season, four of which came with Durant inactive due to a knee sprain. Not surprisingly, poor shooting efforts, resulting in a lower offensive rating, were the root cause in the games in which Golden State lost. In their regular-season wins, the Warriors posted an effective field goal percentage of 57.9 percent in 2017, which dropped to 49.4 percent in their losses, roughly the equivalent of how the New York Knicks performed. Golden State’s effective field goal percentage in the playoffs is a league-leading 56.9 percent and has sagged below 49.4 only once in the postseason … more on that later. Related ArticlesJune 8, 2017 “I’ve seen that”: The shot of Kevin Durant’s life was a lifetime in the making June 7, 2017 Kevin Durant, Warriors rally to beat Cavs in Game 3 of NBA Finals June 7, 2017 LeBron James dismisses idea he’s worn out guarding Kevin Durant June 6, 2017 Klay Thompson has learned to relax, even when stakes are high and shots aren’t falling June 6, 2017 Kevin Durant’s menacing defense leads the way for Warriors While the Warriors could go cold on their own, it’s unlikely the Cavaliers’ defense is up to the task of shutting down Golden State four games in a row. Cleveland held opponents to a sub-49.4 effective field goal percentage during just 23 regular season games in 2016-17 and only 13 of those teams averaged better than 49.4 percent for the season. The Cavaliers have held opponents under that 49.4 percent mark just four times in the playoffs. The silver lining is that one of those instances was Game 1 of the Finals … yet they still lost by 22 points due to poor shooting of their own (41.3 eFG%) combined with 20 turnovers. On the whole, the Cavaliers defense has proven too accommodating to the Warriors, who have seen 56.2 percent of their catch-and-shoot opportunities unguarded in the playoffs and have pushed that even higher against Cleveland in the Finals (58.2 percent). That type of shot creation is why Klay Thompson was able to breakout of his slump: he is 5-for-8 behind the three-point line on unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities in the NBA Finals. Jason Miller, Getty ImagesLeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 7, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. “I said it after the Eastern Conference Finals that we’re getting ready for a juggernaut. It’s probably the most, most firepower I’ve played in my career,” James told reporters on Wednesday after the game. “I played against some great teams, but I don’t think no team has had this type of firepower.” Now the Cavaliers need to stop Golden State’s juggernaut four nights in a row, and that’s asking too much. The chances of a team like the Warriors having, for them, a below-average shooting night similar to their regular season losses is roughly 5 percent, or once out of every 19 games. The chances of that happening four times in a row is 140,000 to 1, about 10 times the chances of someone being struck by lightning in their lifetime. [...]
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Terrance Ferguson preparing for NBA after bypassing college. His similarities to Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay don’t end there.
The cold ocean water rolling over his feet provided relief. Terrance Ferguson, then 18 and one year removed from high school, was more than 9,000 miles away from home last year, playing professional basketball in Australia. The game could feel like rugby on a basketball court, bigger players putting bruises on Ferguson’s wiry 6-foot-7, 190-pound frame. But Ferguson had a way to rejuvenate that wasn’t available to him back home in Dallas. “The beaches, oh my god,” Ferguson said. “It was probably 110 (degrees) on the weekends, and it was just dry. Going to the beach was definitely a big relief.” Ferguson is the latest player attempting to take the route from high school to a year of professional basketball overseas to the NBA draft, which is on June 22. Considered a first-round talent by draft evaluators, Ferguson played for two high school seasons with Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was the most recent American player to chart the same professional path. Mudiay was selected by the Nuggets with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft. The similarities for the two players are hard to ignore. Both had committed to Division I programs out of high school (Ferguson to Arizona; Mudiay to SMU) before deciding to bypass college, citing a desire to help their families financially. Both are signed to shoe contracts with Under Armour. And both are likely to end up as first-round picks. Those connections have formed a bond. “I talk to Mudiay all the time. That’s my brother right there,” Ferguson said after working out with the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Thursday. “He just told me to come here, have fun and compete. That was pretty much it: ‘Just play your game.’ We don’t really talk about basketball that often. We just talk about life, and we like to have fun with other.” The overseas path that skirts the NBA’s one-and-done rule, which requires players to be one year removed from high school before they can be drafted, was first charted by Washington Wizards guard Brandon Jennings back in 2009. Though some predicted such a move would become a common practice, eight years later. Ferguson is part of a small group who have chosen that route. “You have to have the right mind focus,” Ferguson said. “You can’t go over there and think you’re going to be the man right away. You have to have strong structure, people around you who support you. For me, it was my mom who was over there for me and helped build confidence in me every day. To have her over there supporting me was great to have.” Stacy Revere, Getty ImagesTerrance Ferguson participates in drills during Day Two of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 12, 2017 in Chicago. Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, having battled obesity and homelessness, is on doorstep of NBA dream June 5, 2017 Nuggets draft preview: John Collins has made climb to become likely first-round pick May 26, 2017 Aurora’s De’Ron Davis is staring at a major opportunity at Indiana. Can an intense summer provide a head start? May 24, 2017 Gonzaga teammate on Zach Collins: NBA team who drafts 7-footer will get “full package” May 23, 2017 Pre-draft workouts offer various benefits for NBA hopefuls on various paths to pro careers Ferguson played with the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian Basketball League, and he admits there were ups and downs during a season in which he averaged 4.6 points in 15.2 minutes per game. The physicality was the biggest adjustment. Ferguson’s body was still maturing as he battled against full-grown men. “The year was tough,” Ferguson said. “I’m not going to lie. It was tough. … Coach (Michael Malone) was out there and he saw how physical it was. He was telling me before the workout how it was. I was like, ‘I was there, Coach. I know how it was.'” Despite the mixed results in Australia, Ferguson, who turned 19 last month, is confident he’s ready for the next step. He’s considered an energetic and strong defender, and the other workout attendees Thursday raved about his playmaking ability. It’s a versatile package that has piqued the interest of NBA teams. Ferguson will have worked out for at least 10 teams by the time the draft rolls around. “He’s a very dynamic guard,” said 6-9 former North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks, who joined Amile Jefferson (6-9, Duke), Amida Brimah (7-0, UConn), Matt Jones (6-5, Duke) and Laurynas Birutis (7-1, Lithuania) at Thursday’s workout. “As you saw today, he was sitting here making every shot he shot. He’s very athletic and he can play ‘D.’ That’s what teams are looking for.” [...]
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2017 Draft Profile: Edrice "Bam" Adebayo
Take a look at 2017 NBA Draft prospect Edrice Adebayo. [...]
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Nuggets Host Pre-Draft Workout on June 8
The Denver Nuggets will hold a pre-draft workout at 9:00 am on Thursday, June 8th at the UCHealth Practice Court at Pepsi Center. [...]
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LeBron James dismisses idea he’s worn out guarding Kevin Durant
CLEVELAND — LeBron James dismissed the idea he’s exhausted from guarding Kevin Durant. After the warp-speed Golden State Warriors overran the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first two games of the NBA Finals, with Durant averaging 35.5 points in the wins, one of the trending topics has been whether James is being worn down in trying guard the 7-footer. “Do I look tired?” James asked at Wednesday’s morning shootaround in advance of Game 3. “I’m averaging a triple-double in the Finals. I’m pretty good, I would think.” Playing in his seventh straight Finals, James is averaging 28.5 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists but it hasn’t been enough for the Cavs, who lost Games 1 and 2 by a combined 41 points. Cleveland was in a very similar spot a year ago, when the Cavs lost the first two games by 48 points, won Game 3 and then overcame a 3-1 deficit to win their first title. In addition to all he does on offense, James has also been assigned to cover Durant. It’s unlikely Cavs coach Tyronn Lue will change the matchup at the start of Game 3, but he did use guard Iman Shumpert on Durant for portions of Game 2. Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Klay Thompson has learned to relax, even when stakes are high and shots aren’t falling June 6, 2017 Kevin Durant’s menacing defense leads the way for Warriors June 5, 2017 LeBron James’ basketball IQ is the only thing that can save the Cavaliers now June 5, 2017 Why the Cavs are ignoring last year’s NBA Finals comeback after falling into another 0-2 hole June 4, 2017 Warriors prove unstoppable in Game 2, rolling past LeBron James, Cavaliers According to ESPN’s research, the first two games of the series were played at a faster pace — possessions per minutes — than any of James’ previous 212 playoff games. The three-time champion stopped driving to the basket in the second half of Game 2 and he looked spent on the bench when he took a break during the third quarter. The Warriors are a perfect 14-0 so far in the postseason, and they seem intent on revenge after giving up a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in last year’s Finals. James, however, also rejected any notion that the Warriors are any hungrier than he and his teammates. “I want to win just as bad as they do and obviously they probably got a bad taste in their mouth after what happened last year and we had one in our mouth last year from what happened the year before,” James said. “I’ve had a few bad tastes in my mouth from what happened in the Finals, so and I’ve always had that feeling so it never changed for me.” [...]
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2017 Draft Profile: Donovan Mitchell
Take a look at 2017 NBA Draft prospect Donovan Mitchell. [...]
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QUIZ: Can You Match the Shoes to the Correct Nuggets Player?
Test your shoe knowledge by matching the correct player to their sneaker! [...]
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Klay Thompson has learned to relax, even when stakes are high and shots aren’t falling
CLEVELAND — After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, in which the Golden State Warriors cruised to an easy victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Klay Thompson was frustrated. While the all-star shooting guard’s defense had been a big factor in Golden State’s victory — Cavaliers shooters had gone just 1-for-12 with him covering them — Thompson had shot just 3-for-16, continuing his postseason slump. One of the NBA’s best shooters, Thompson averaged 13.8 points per game while shooting a very pedestrian 36.6 percent from the floor through 13 postseason games — including an unthinkable 33.8 percent from 3-point range. All of those numbers were a far cry from Thompson’s regular season averages of 22.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting and 41.4 percent from behind the arc. All of it was weighing on the 27-year-old, who desperately wanted to snap out of his slump. And that, he decided, was the problem heading into Game 2 of the NBA Finals: He was thinking too much. And, after scoring 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting — including 4-for-7 from 3 — in Golden State’s 132-113 Game 2 victory, Thompson admitted a different approach made all the difference. “Yeah. Relax,” Thompson said with a smile when asked whether he’d done anything to snap himself out of his funk. “I just relaxed tonight, and took good shots in rhythm. That’s the key for me, and I need to do the same thing in Cleveland. “Just relax, man. It’s just basketball.” Playing on a team with Stephen Curry, the NBA’s best shooter, Kevin Durant, one of its best and most versatile players, and Draymond Green, one of its biggest talkers and best defenders, it’s easy for Thompson to be overlooked. He doesn’t seek the spotlight — in fact, he often does his best to minimize his interactions with the media — and doesn’t have the kind of eye-popping moments on a regular basis as his fellow Warriors all-stars. But Thompson’s two-way contributions have become critical to Golden State’s identity at both ends of the floor. And if he continues to put the slump behind him, beginning with Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night, it’s hard to see how the Cavaliers can get back into this series. “Klay played so well in Game 1, without shooting well,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “And, to me, that usually indicates that the ball’s going to go in. His defense was tremendous in Game 1, his ballhandling, his passing. I thought he played a great game. “I just felt like he was poised to come out and make some shots tonight, and he did. And his defense again was tremendous. I thought Klay, he guards so many people out there and he has such a responsibility with Kyrie (Irving) and switching onto LeBron (James), and I thought he was fantastic.” Thompson has become a household name because of his shooting stroke. His partnership with Curry in Golden State’s backcourt — complete with the perfect nickname of “Splash Brothers” — gives the Warriors the best shooting combo in the league. But Thompson’s defense is his main asset. He takes on the top defensive assignment on the perimeter for the opposition on a nightly basis, meaning Golden State can put Curry on a lesser threat and allow Thompson — with his 6-foot-7 frame and long arms — to give one of its opponent’s best scorers plenty of trouble. “He really plays for his teammates,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said before Game 2. “Defense doesn’t get enough attention. It’s getting more than it used to, to be honest. People are talking about it more than they used to. “(But) he’s had to guard, in many cases, some really good players throughout the playoffs … he was matched up against all the best guys and he’s done a great job. He’s focused on our record more than his own statistics. “Sure, he wants to do better, but we’re not worried about it.” And while both Thompson and the Warriors would have loved for him to break out of his slump sooner than Game 2, in many ways the fact he was still playing so well defensively while struggling so mightily with his shooting stroke was a sign of progress in the mental part of the game. Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Kevin Durant’s menacing defense leads the way for Warriors June 5, 2017 LeBron James’ basketball IQ is the only thing that can save the Cavaliers now June 5, 2017 Why the Cavs are ignoring last year’s NBA Finals comeback after falling into another 0-2 hole June 4, 2017 Warriors prove unstoppable in Game 2, rolling past LeBron James, Cavaliers June 4, 2017 Steve Kerr returns to the Warriors’ sidelines to coach Game 2 of the [...]
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Q&A with Draft Prospects: John Collins, JeQuan Lewis, Landen Lucas, Hassan Martin, Caleb Swanigan, and T.J. Williams
Get to know some of the prospects with a fun questions and answers session following day one of pre-draft workouts. [...]
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Why the Cavs are ignoring last year’s NBA Finals comeback after falling into another 0-2 hole
OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are headed home in a familiar spot after the first two games of the NBA Finals. Rather than reach back to last year’s championship comeback for a confidence boost, James’ focus is on figuring out what Cleveland must do to change its fortunes against a Warriors team that is fresher and far more dangerous this year, thanks to the addition of Kevin Durant. “They’re a different team,” James said following a 132-113 loss in Game 2 on Sunday night that put Cleveland in an 0-2 hole. That’s been quite evident through two games. Durant leads all players with 71 points the first two games — six more than the player he replaced in the lineup, Harrison Barnes, scored in seven games a year ago. Durant’s scoring has taken pressure off Stephen Curry and allowed the Warriors to withstand Cleveland runs so well that they haven’t trailed after the first quarter in either game. A healthy Curry followed up a 28-point Game 1 with his first postseason triple-double on Sunday with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He looks more like a two-time MVP than the hobbled player he was in last year’s Finals. Klay Thompson shook off a shooting slump to score 22 points and the Warriors pulled away late for another lopsided win. Ezra Shaw, Getty Images(L-R) JR Smith #5 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walk off the court after being defeated 132-113 in Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on June 4, 2017 in Oakland, California. “They play well at home,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “They won their first two games like they’re supposed to. Coming to a tough environment, we knew it was going to be tough, but they won the first two games. We get a chance to go home now to our home crowd where we play well, also.” The Cavs began to turn things around last year after being outscored by 48 points in the first two losses in Oakland — seven more than this year. They split the two games at home before reeling off three straight wins to become the fourth team to win the title after losing the first two games. “They’re going keep to coming, man,” Curry said. “There is a lot of work for us left to do. And you got to expect them to play, obviously, better at home. And we’re going to need to play better to win on the road.” What was so discouraging for the Cavs is that they played better in Game 2 but the result didn’t really change. They went to a smaller lineup that contributed to Golden State committing 20 turnovers a game after tying a Finals record with four. The offense picked up thanks to 27 points from Kevin Love and the Cavs scored 22 more points than in the opener in a faster-paced game, but that also helped the Warriors improve their shooting from 43 percent to 52 percent as Cleveland had a weaker defensive on the floor. “We definitely have a sense of what they’re capable of, and we felt like a lot of times tonight we played better basketball,” Love said. “But they’re a team you cannot — you can’t let them go on runs.” The key one came late in the third quarter after Cleveland cut the deficit to four points. The Warriors followed with a 16-4 run that included 3-pointers from Curry and Thompson, a three-point play from Durant in transition and four points from Shaun Livingston. “That’s what they do,” James said. “That’s what Golden State does. If you make a mistake — like I said, we had a turnover, it came from me, and then we had a miscue and the floods opened again.” Related ArticlesJune 4, 2017 Warriors prove unstoppable in Game 2, rolling past LeBron James, Cavaliers June 4, 2017 Derek Fisher arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after crash June 4, 2017 Steve Kerr returns to the Warriors’ sidelines to coach Game 2 of the NBA Finals June 4, 2017 “King” of the road: LeBron James and Cavs need to get one in Oakland to have a chance June 3, 2017 Cavaliers try to adjust on both ends after Game 1 beating The first two games have shown a stark difference in depth. While James has thrived so far and had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists to tie Magic Johnson’s record with his eighth career Finals triple-double Sunday, he hasn’t gotten nearly enough help. Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in the opener and Love had a big day in Game 2, but starters Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith have been nearly invisible and the bench has offered little help. The Warriors, on the other hand, have gotten key contributions from their four All-Stars: Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, as well as from players like Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachul [...]
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Dempsey's Deliveries: Malik Beasley's Potential, Jamal Murray's Recovery and More
Nuggets.com Insider Christopher Dempsey answers fan questions in his bi-weekly series. [...]
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The Offseason Tribune: Juancho Hernangomez Meets Cristiano Ronaldo at #UCLFinal, Darrell Welcomes a Baby Girl and More
This week's edition of the Offseason Tribune is highlighted by Juancho Hernangomez celebrating the UEFA Champions League Final, Darrell A [...]
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