Former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles will get a fresh start in Denver, one he believes he can take advantage of immediately.
Entering his third NBA season, Lyles’ fared well as a rookie with the Utah Jazz. He played in 80 games, started in almost half of them, and shot the ball well (43.8% FG, 38.3% 3FG) to average 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. All of those statistics took a slight dip in his second season when the Jazz added Boris Diaw.
After taking a backseat in Utah, Lyles now has an opportunity to step in and immediately contribute, especially on the defensive end.
“Growing up, I’ve always had coaches who preach defense, (including) Coach (John) Calipari at Kentucky,” Lyles told the Denver Post. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me. This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it. I think with our length, our youth and our size, we’ll be able to be one of the better teams in the league on the defensive end once everyone buys in.”
Lyles has plenty of familiarity with the Nuggets’ lineup. He grew up competing against Gary Harris in Indiana AAU basketball, and the Canadian-born baller teamed up with Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic during the 2012 Nike Global Challenge. He’s excited to play with the pass-first Jokic.
“This past year he was able to step up into a role that allowed him to flourish and people started seeing he was able to do a multitude of things,” Lyles said. “I’m excited to go out there and play with him and catch some of those passes from the angles he’s throwing them at. It’s going to be a great compatibility between us.”
However, the most exciting part about the move to the Nuggets is the city of Denver. During his pre-draft workouts, he grew to love the city and hoped the Nuggets would select him instead of Mudiay.
“When I worked out for the Nuggets, Denver was one of my favorite cities I visited,” Lyles said. “It was a city and a team that I was looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to play for.”