Nuggets coach Michael Malone presented a short video for the first off-season practice to introduce returning players to seven newcomers to the roster. He saved the best clip for last.
Facundo Campazzo – an ardent playmaker for Real Madrid since 2014, now his first NBA chance with Denver this season – is a must-see TV.
“When I get depressed, I might put on (Campazzo) highlights because it puts a smile on my face,” Malone told reporters at a virtual press conference on Sunday. “The man plays with an outburst and a passion that you don’t always see. … he must be a top five pick and roll player in the world. ”
Nuggets players and coaches gathered in their practice facility for training camp opening team training on Sunday to mark the first step toward building chemistry with Campazzo, nicknamed Facu (Fah-Koo), in the shortest NBA off-season in the history of the competition.
“I’m finally here,” said Campazzo. “I’m so happy right now. I feel like a little kid right now. It’s great.”
Campazzo’s international references check. The 5-foot-11 point guard, known for his creative passing, scored an average of 9.6 points and 6.1 assists in the EuroLeague a year ago. During the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Campazzo dropped 18 points and 12 assists for Argentina in a quarter-final victory – ousting Nikola Jokic and the Serbian national team.
“One of the plays on the highlight edit today, right when it started, Nikola Jokic started cursing at me,” said Malone, “because it was (Campazzo with) one of the best passes I’ve ever seen against Serbia in the world championship. He will be a lot of fun to watch. ”
How Campazzo will fit into Denver’s backcourt remains to be seen. Jamal Murray is solidified as the starting point guard with Monte Morris as a trusted backup. Campazzo told reporters that he cannot yet define his Nuggets role. But he described the NBA as a “faster game” and stressed his need to “get better on the move without the ball.”
Malone praised his defensive abilities despite Campazzo’s smaller stature.
“When you first watch him, you would probably want to underestimate him because he’s not the tallest guy in the gym and he’s not the strongest guy in the gym,” said Malone. But his heart is huge. He plays with a lot of passion and pride. He’s got great toughness and I think he’s a really good defensive player. A disruptive defensive player. ”
The Nuggets have scouted Campazzo for a number of years, Malone said, waiting for the opening of a roster and Real Madrid’s contract issues to be resolved. The stars finally got aligned this winter to bring Campazzo to Denver.
“The fans have already sent me a lot of messages,” said Campazzo. “I am so happy to be here because this is a great team. I have a lot of great teammates. I will do my best.”
Will update Barton. Nugget’s little forward Will Barton is still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of the playoffs last season.
“When we had to experience (game) portions of the training, we held Will Barton back for a while, just to be careful,” said Malone. “I think we should all remind each other that quite a few guys who practiced today out of the 17 players in our squad, most of these guys haven’t played a five-a-side game since March or earlier. Obviously the returning players were playing until late September and this is very difficult for them physically and emotionally. But I loved the effort and I loved the energy. ”