No surprise here: The Denver Nuggets will sign Axel Toupane to a second 10-day contract, according to Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post.
I wrote this morning that I’d be shocked if they didn’t, as the Raptors 905 product has turned in a really impressive five-game audition. Four of his performances would probably grade as good or better, with just his second outing standing as a little shaky, with Toupane perhaps trying to do a little too much.
Otherwise, he’s come as advertised for the Nuggets, bringing positional versatility on the defensive end, getting out in transition on offense, and knocking down the corner three. Head coach Michael Malone has really given him some leash to prove himself, with Toupane playing 67 minutes on his initial 10-day deal. He’s averaged 4.6 points, 0.8 rebounds, one assists, and 0.8 steals while shooting 33.3 percent overall and 4-of-13 on threes, numbers that don’t pop but show enough utility to warrant a longer look, especially considering his defensive performance, which included time checking Carmelo Anthony.
“(General manager) Tim (Connely) and I have had some general conversations,” Malone said Saturday, courtesy of the Post. “All I’ll say to that is Axel has been terrific. I like guys — and it’s appropriate for guys on a 10-day contract — to fit in before you try to stand out. Axel comes in here — yeah, he knows Joffrey (Lauvergne) for a long time — but he doesn’t try to be anything he’s not. He knows his role, he works hard.”
It seems likely the Nuggets won’t officially sign Toupane until Monday, since they’re not in action Sunday. Waiting would allow him to get into six more games, rather than five, before the Nuggets have to make a decision on a rest-of-season deal.
“I told him after he got called up, I have so many friends in Denver from my time with the Nuggets, I told him ‘man, if you just put your head down and do exactly what they’re looking for, you’ve got a really good chance to stick with them,” 905 general manager Dan Tolzman said last week. ” I think he’s ready for this opportunity. I hope he continues to get minutes every game because it takes a little bit of time for guys to get comfortable. A 10-day period is a really tough time to find a groove. I hope the opportunity is there for him and if anyone can take it and stick with it, I think Axel can.”
You can read more about Toupane in the progress report I provided when he signed his first 10-day with the Nuggets, and in this feature on him from January.
It sucks for the 905 to remain without him (and Smith), but these are undoubtedly signs of early progress for the Raptors’ D-League experiment.