Julyan Stone heads out on latest D-League journey
DES MOINES, Iowa – Being a 6-foot-6 point guard has its advantages.
Seeing over the defense. Posting up smaller defenders. Utilizing long arms to impede passing lanes.
Leg room on an EMB-145 regional jet is not on that list.
Denver Nuggets guard Julyan Stone did his best to fold himself into seat 19A on Wednesday as he headed to Des Moines for an assignment with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League.
Still recovering from offseason hip surgery, Stone has played only two games for the Nuggets in the first three months of the season. The trip to Iowa could provide some needed minutes to improve his conditioning and sharpen his skills.
“I’m real excited,” Stone said as he waited to board his flight. “It’s been a long six or seven months. I’m ready to go out there and play and the rust out, get the kinks out.”
Stone, signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2011, played three games for the Idaho Stampede during a D-League assignment last season, averaging 7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists.
The Nuggets are now affiliated with Iowa, where rookie Quincy Miller has been playing for much of past month.
Stone was looking forward to the reunion with Miller.
“That’s like my little brother,” he said. “I talk to him once a week and try to keep his spirits up, and make sure he’s doing what he needs to do. I’m excited to go out and play with him.”
Before heading to Iowa, Stone observed Denver’s morning shootaround at Pepsi Center and worked with assistant athletic trainer Dan Shimensky to improve range of motion in his hips.
Stone, 24, had surgery in July, and his trip to Iowa is another step in his return to full strength.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I feel like I’m taking steps to get better. I still have a long way to go, but this is a stepping point for me.”
Upon Stone’s arrival in Des Moines, Miller led a small welcoming committee that also included Energy coach Bruce Wilson and assistant Jordan Brady.
The group gave Stone a rundown of the schedule ahead, which included practice Thursday and back-to-back games against the Springfield Armor.
Brady then drove Miller and Stone through the icy streets to the downtown apartment building where players and assistant coaches stay during the season.
Stone’s one-bedroom apartment included a kitchen and was furnished with a double-bed, a couch, coffee table and a 15-inch, old-school TV. He said it reminded him of the apartment where he lived as a kid growing up in Southern California.
It was a modest setup, to be sure, but one that suited Stone just fine as he began his latest D-League experience.
At least he could finally stretch his legs.