Not unlike most NBA Summer League rosters, the Denver Nuggets‘ consists of a collection of players most fans, including myself, have never heard of. Most went undrafted and many have been playing overseas trying to polish their games with the hope of someday landing on an NBA roster.
But there are the two players some fans recognize who are locks to make the team in Gary Harris and Quincy Miller. There is the one player the true, hardcore fans will know about, Erick Green, acquired in the second round of last year’s NBA Draft in a trade with the Utah Jazz.
Then there are the 13 other players, and those are the ones I will focus on. That is where the real stories lie, and that is what is truly fascinating about Summer League. Players chasing their lifelong dream, battling through a variety of obstacles, is something I can relate to.
Take Chris Wright for example. He has battled his whole life through a debilitating condition, multiple sclerosis, so he is no stranger to adversity. He has been in an NBA uniform a total of three games, during which time he played 1.3 minutes and went 1-for-2 from the field. He has bounced around in the D-League and the Euroleague since leaving Georgetown in 2011 and has yet to give up on his dream. Now that is someone I can root for.
Then there is Brandon Jefferson, a local Division II product who played for four years at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Standing only 5-foot-9, he also understands how to fight through tough circumstances, and he played his way to becoming the Division II player of the year this past season.
Carlon Brown also played his college ball locally, up the road at the University of Colorado. He played alongside two NBA players in Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Spencer Dinwiddie (Detroit Pistons) and managed to play well enough to be named the 2012 Pac 12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Demonte Harper played his college ball with the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried and was integral to their surprise upset over the No. 4 seed Louisville Cardinals in 2011 for advancement to the tournament’s third round. He has played on the Nuggets’ Summer League team before in 2012 and has since bounced around in the D-League and the Euroleague.
Halil Kanacevic is the only Saint Joseph’s University player to ever score more than 1,000 points, pull down more than 1,000 rebounds, dish out 400 assists and block 200 shots. He helped the Hawks give the eventual champion Connecticut Huskies all they could handle in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament before being ousted. The Staten Island product, who was reportedly playing basketball during this year’s NBA Draft, has been scouted by multiple NBA teams and remains hopeful he can fulfill his NBA dream.
If these aren’t players you can relate to and root for, then we probably can’t be friends. I understand that the NBA Summer League isn’t always the most captivating event, but I hope that you will consider catching a couple of Nuggets games and pulling for these guys now that you know a little more about them. I know I will be.