First impressions are often overrated, and they rarely indicate just how a relationship between two parties will go. Given the choice everyone would choose for their first impression to go well, and for everyone to leave happy when it’s over.
I think all parties involved left ecstatic when it comes to Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic’s first Denver Nugget impressions.
In his first-ever game wearing a Denver Nuggets jersey, first-round pick Gary Harris put on a show. Harris had the best performance of the day on Saturday by scoring 33 points and netting five 3-pointers in the Denver Nuggets’ blowout victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Put simply, Gary Harris had an awesome first impression. On top of the points he grabbed six rebounds and two steals, and he looked like a player holding a grudge about falling a little in the draft.
Harris’ first-round draft partner, Jusuf Nurkic, isn’t actually playing in the NBA Summer League. He previously committed to playing with the Bosnian national team this summer, so the Nuggets don’t get to coach him directly.
Playing for the national team didn’t stop Nurkic, though. The center had a great performance in one of his first games since getting drafted on Saturday. In a win over Romania at the under-20 FIBA European Championships, Nurkic dominated with 24 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. His team joined the Nuggets by getting a blowout win — Bosnia won by 56 when it was all said and done.
The Nuggets look like the winner of the first round after the duo’s first performance. It’s obviously VERY early to really tell how this draft will work out, but so far it looks like the Nuggets draft picks delivered.
Together they put up a combined 57 points, 30 rebounds, and 7.0 assists on Saturday, and I’m not the only one dreaming about the pair of picks doing that same damage together on the big stage.
Of course, that big stage is a long ways away, and neither player was AS impressive in their other summer game. Harris only managed to put in nine points and five rebounds in his second game, while Nurkic only posted 14 points and eight rebounds in his other game at the U-20 Euros, but they still showed some skills and talent the Nuggets could use during the regular season.
Harris grabbed a nice steal in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Bulls that led to a Qunicy Miller layup. He’s backing up all that great defensive player talk, and is averaging two steals a game so far .
His offense will come and go for the Nuggets, but his defense is what will earn him playing time in coach Brian Shaw‘s system. Shaw’s been watching closely, and even against complicated NBA offenses he’s not getting separated from his man so far in Vegas.
Nurkic is a bit harder to judge as I’m not watching his Bosnian games. However, his numbers show positives in a lot of areas.
He’s blocked an impressive 3.3 shots a game so far in the U-20 European Championships, and he’s even distributing the ball well for a center by averaging 2.7 assists. In his 14-point, eight-rebound, “non-impressive” game, the Bosnian national team destroyed Cyprus by 48 points.
So, given that he only played 18 minutes in that game, 14 and eight looks a lot better. This guy could be a MONSTER.
Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris both look like great fits for the Denver Nuggets in the small sample size we have to judge the two. Nuggets nation should be quite impressed with the first look we’ve had at the two first-round draft picks, and I’m sure the 19-year-olds are happy their first impression is a solid one.