The Denver Nuggets came into the 2017 NBA Summer League playoffs as a 23rd seed and faced the 10th seeded Houston Rockets, who had defeated Denver on the first day of Summer League. This time it was Denver that walked away victorious by a score of 87-81.
Denver was in control for nearly the entire game but Houston was still within striking distance thanks to 20 points from both Troy Williams and Chris Johnson. It was not until Torrey Craig hit a running floater and followed that up with a converted and-1 opportunity in the closing seconds that put the game on ice.
The Nuggets stay alive to fight another day and will take on the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
Torrey Craig proving his worth
Craig was the best player on both ends of the floor in Denver's 87-81 win over Houston and there is no arguing that. He was the most impactful defender on the court, guarding all five positions, and scored Denver's last five points to lock in Nuggets playoff win over the Rockets.
As he has all Summer League, Craig is continuing to prove that he has a chance to be an NBA-caliber player. He has thoroughly impressed the Nuggets Summer League coaching staff and single-handily carried Denver to a playoff win. Craig finished with 27 points, on 8-14 shooting and 10-11 from the free throw line, to go with 11 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Craig fits a role on the Nuggets' roster. The organization already thought highly of him coming into Summer League but after putting together a 27-point and 11-rebound game it seems that Craig could be an ideal, and cheap, fit for Denver going into the 2017-18 season. The Nuggets are thin at small forward and need to add more versatile defenders. In that regard, Craig is a perfect complement to the current roster and perfectly fits that role.
Craig knows how to play within his skill-set and brings a gritty determination and toughness with him. Look for Denver to continue to increase his role against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday for Denver's second playoff game of Summer League to get a better look at him. So far, he has been arguably the most impressive player on the Nuggets Summer League roster.
Lydon has not found his footing in Las Vegas. He looks discombobulated and overmatched in almost every facet and has only scored 12 points over four games. He has consistently passed up shots all Summer League and, against Houston, it was no different. Lydon took just four shots and missed all of them, including three shots from beyond the three-point arc.
Lydon finished with just one singular point but he did impact the game in other ways in a positive manner. He accumulated seven total rebounds and also had three assists, three steals, and a block in what was likely his best showing in Las Vegas thus far.
Lydon needs to start taking shots. He was drafted as an elite shooter and so far has just flat-out refused to shoot when he has a good look. Expect Denver to try and get Lydon going early against Brooklyn on Thursday.
Beasley had by far his worst performance of Summer League against Houston. He shot just 4-14 from the field and 1-6 from three-point distance and was turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Beasley finished with an ugly stat line of nine points, six rebounds, two assists, and a staggering eight turnovers in 34 minutes.
Beasley does not look ready to step into a larger role with the Nuggets next year. His talent is undeniable but it seems he still has long ways to go before exploding onto the NBA landscape. So far, Beasley's finishing ability around the rim has been a glaring issue and it has become obvious that his ability to handle the ball still has a long way to go. Denver is guaranteed at least one more game at Summer League game and hopefully, Beasley can step up, take control, and show everyone why Denver was so ecstatic to select him with the 19th pick in last year's draft.
Denver is guaranteed at least one more game at Summer League game and hopefully, Beasley can step up, take control, and show everyone why Denver was so ecstatic to select him with the 19th pick in last year's draft.
Morris came to play against the Rockets. His performance had been underwhelming leading up to the Nuggets Summer League playoff game but once Morris entered the game he was immediately a positive influence on the game.
The pure point guard finished with 15 points on nine shots to go with five rebounds, four assists, and just one turnover. He was in control from start to finish and was Denver's second best player against Houston.
Morris still has a lot to prove and will get another chance on Thursday against Brooklyn. He is expected to start at point guard next game and should have plenty of opportunities to show how talented he is.
Nuggets Summer League squad stays alive
Denver started out winless over their first three games and the negativity was nearly palpable in the air. The mood surrounding the team was beyond somber and the Nuggets desperately needed a win to ease the tension.
Beating the Rockets, who hung 102 points on Denver their first matchup of Summer League, was a breath of fresh air for a team that severely needed some positive vibes. Players like Craig, Robert Carter Jr, Morris, and Lydon now get an opportunity to bounce back and show the talent they possess for at least one more game.
Denver now will take on the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday looking to stay alive in the hunt for a Summer League title.