Torrey Craig drawing big-time interest

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By Travis Jenkins

After the way he played last season, there is no doubt that Great Falls grad Torrey Craig will be in the NBA next season. There apparently is some doubt whether or not that will be with the Denver Nuggets.

According to TJ McBride of Mile High Sports, Craig is receiving interest from multiple teams because of his athleticism, defensive acumen and ability to shoot the three-pointer. McBride reports that since Craig is a restricted free agent, Denver can match any offer he receives. However, barring a trade, the Nuggets are already facing a luxury cap tax hit and might not be able to afford to match whatever offer he receives on the open market.

For the year, Craig appeared in 39 games (with five starts) for the Nuggets, averaging 16.1 minutes, 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. Craig was also lauded for his outstanding play on defense. His high in minutes played occurred on December 20 against Minnesota when he logged 37 minutes in a start. His biggest point production (14) came in a January loss to Oklahoma City. He produced an eight-rebound game earlier this month against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Craig was signed as a two-way player, a new designation that lets a player spend part of the season in the developmental G League and up to 45 days on an NBA roster. Craig started the year with the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. In early G League play with the Skyforce, Craig was a standout, averaging 25.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, two blocks and 1.1 steals a game.

Craig spent his first three professional seasons playing overseas in the NBL. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year and was picked as the team MVP for the Brisbane Bullets of the Australian NBL last year. He led the Bullets in a number of statistical categories, including minutes played, scoring (15.2 a game), rebounding (8.0 a game), steals (1.14 a game) and three-point shooting. He was a second-team All-NBL selection. Prior to that season, he spent two seasons playing with the Cairns Taipans. Craig also previously played with the Wellington Saints in the New Zealand NBL (during the Australian NBL off-season) where he averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in 2016. The previous season, he was named the league’s MVP. He was averaging 30 points-per-game with the Gold Coast Rollers of the QBL when the Nuggets signed him to their summer league team last year.

Craig played collegiately at USC-Upstate. He led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring for three straight years and the Spartans made their first two Division I era post-season appearances during Craig's time at the school. At Great Falls High School he helped lead the Red Devils to two basketball state title games and won Class A Player of the Year honors as a senior.

NBA free agency starts July 1.