Archive for the ‘ Denver Nuggets Blog ’ Category

Denver Nuggets hire Sue Bird

The Denver Nuggets have added current WNBA Champion Sue Bird to their front office staff as a Basketball Operations Associate.

“We are very excited to have Sue join our organization,” said Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. “Her resume certainly speaks for itself and as a still active player she will offer an extremely unique perspective.”

Bird recently wrapped up her 16th season in the WNBA which saw her earn her 11th All-Star bid and third WNBA Championship, all with the Seattle Storm. The New York native attended the University of Connecticut where she won two National Championships before being selected first overall by Seattle in the 2002 WNBA Draft. Bird was named to the WNBA All-Decade team in 2006, has been All-WNBA First Team five times and All-WNBA Second Team three times and currently ranks first in the WNBA in career games (508), first in career minutes played (16,173), first in assists (2,831), third in points (6,154), third in made three-pointers (855) and fifth in steals (652).

“I’m really excited to join the Denver Nuggets organization. I’m thankful for the opportunity and look forward to learning from some of the best,” said Bird.

The Nuggets are off to a great start this season, but their first loss came courtesy of a LeBron James triple-double fueled Lakers squad. Here’s the Denver Post reporting:

The Nuggets were up 106-98 with 6:11 left in the game before the Lakers closed on a 23-8 run. LeBron James’ triple-double helped, as did Lonzo Ball’s clutch step-back 3-pointer, but give Lance Stephenson credit. He had a personal run of eight straight, including back-to-back 3-pointers that energized the Staples Center crowd with Kobe Bryant sitting courtside.

“Six minutes is a lifetime on the road with a guy like LeBron James,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said.

Veteran Paul Millsap, who struggled from the floor with just six points, put the onus on the Nuggets.

“Something we haven’t been all year, got a little rattled, little rattled down the stretch. Forced a few shots. We didn’t stay poised like we normally do,” he said…

Monte Morris finished with a career-high 20 points, seven assists and three steals as the third Nugget to notch at least 20 points (Nikola Jokic 24, Jamal Murray 22).

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Denver Nuggets begin new NBA season 4-0

It’s never wise to jump to any wild conclusions based on a few games at the start of a new season. But it’s certainly fair to recognize who has come out of the gate playing well and who hasn’t. The Nuggets and Raptors have both begun the season 4-0. Here’s the Denver Post discussing the former:

Whereas last year Tuesday’s game – sandwiched between Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers – would have been rife for a letdown, the Nuggets never trailed and trounced the Kings 126-112.

At 4-0, it’s their best start since the 2009-10 season, when they began 5-0. Though the defense snapped its franchise streak of holding opponents to under 100 points, the dormant offense came alive.

The Nuggets were up 112-87 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and cruised from there. It was a dominant performance on the offensive end – more like last season’s Nuggets than this year’s version, which entered Tuesday with the league’s best defense. The Nuggets pounded the paint with 72 points and found their mark with a season-high 11 3-pointers.

Eight players, including four of five starters finished with double-digit nights, and Denver’s bench produced for the second consecutive game. Perhaps most encouraging was that Jamal Murray, who has been battling nagging ankle injuries, had 14 of his team-high 19 in the third quarter and found his offensive rhythm. Murray knocked down two 3-pointers without hesitation after his 0-of-9 shooting performance in Sunday’s win over Golden State.

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Will Barton out after surgery

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton has undergone surgery to repair core and hip muscle injuries. The procedure was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

Barton’s status will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

According to the Denver Post, “Nuggets coach Mike Malone said Torrey Craig, Juan Hernangomez and Trey Lyles were the most likely candidates to fill Barton’s minutes for the time being.”

The Nuggets are off to a 3-0 start this NBA season. they came extremely close to making the playoffs last year and look excellent early on. It’s a shame they’ll be without Barton for a while.

The Denver Nuggets and Head Coach Michael Malone have agreed to a contract extension, Vice Chairman of KSE Josh Kroenke and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Malone led the Nuggets to a 46-36 record in 2017-18, their best overall record since 2013. Since Malone took over prior to the 2015-16 season, the Nuggets have improved on their win total by a total of 16 wins (+3 after first season, +7 after second and +6 after third), making Denver one of three teams in the NBA to increase their win total in each of the last three seasons (Minnesota and Boston).

With Malone at the helm, the Nuggets have become one of the top offensive teams in the NBA. Denver finished the 2017-18 season with the sixth best offensive rating, including being ranked first overall from February 1st through the end of the season. It also marked the second straight season with a top-six rated offense after finishing 20th in 2015-16. The team also set a new franchise record for made three-pointers in a season (940) during the 2017-18 campaign. They ranked sixth in the NBA in made three-pointers per game and seventh in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage. The Nuggets have also finished top-five in assists per game in each of the last two seasons.

Through 247 games as Denver’s head coach, Malone has compiled a record of 120-127 (.486), ranking him fifth in franchise history in wins among head coaches. He holds a career regular season record of 159-194 (.450) over five seasons with Denver and Sacramento.

Nuggets sign DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Emanuel Terry

The Denver Nuggets have signed rookie free agent DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell to a two-way contract and rookie free agent Emanuel Terry to a training camp contract.

Akoon-Purcell, 6-5, 200, most recently appeared in four games for the Nuggets’ Las Vegas Summer League team, averaging 12.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.00 steals in 19.3 minutes per game. Akoon-Purcell went undrafted in 2016 out of Illinois State University and has spent the last two seasons playing for the Bakken Bears of the Danish league.

The Orlando, Florida native averaged 18.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.65 steals in 49 games (45 starts) for the Bakken Bears in 2017-18. He appeared in 53 games (43 starts) during the 2016-17 campaign, posting averages of 20.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.89 steals while being named both the Danish League MVP and Finals MVP.

Terry, 6-9, 220, also played for the Nuggets’ 2018 Las Vegas Summer League team, appearing in all five games while averaging 7.4 points and 5.0 rebounds on .607 shooting from the field in 17.6 minutes per game. The Birmingham, Alabama native went undrafted in 2018 after spending four years at Lincoln Memorial University.

Terry started all 31 games as a senior in 2017-18, averaging 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.19 blocks while shooting .711 from the field. He was named the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as well as earning SAC All-First Team, SAC All-Tournament Team and NABC Division II All-American Team honors that season.

The Denver Nuggets have signed guard Monte Morris to a multi-year contract.

Morris, 6-3, 180, spent the 2017-18 season on a two-way contract with the Denver Nuggets. He appeared in 37 games (35 starts) for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the G League, averaging 17.8 points, 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 47.2% from the field. Most recently, Morris appeared in four games for the Nuggets 2018 Las Vegas Summer League team, posting averages of 17.5 points, 6.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 28.1 minutes.

The 23-year-old was drafted by Denver with the 51st pick in the 2017 NBA draft after playing four seasons at Iowa State University. Morris appeared in 140 career games (121 starts) for the Cyclones and was named All-Big 12 First Team as a senior in 2017 after setting the NCAA single-season record with a 5.17 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Denver Nuggets signed rookie center Thomas Welsh to a two-way contract today.

Welsh, 7-0, 255, appeared in two games for the Nuggets Las Vegas Summer League team, averaging 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 31.3 minutes per game.

Welsh was selected by Denver with the 58th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He played four seasons at UCLA where he averaged 9.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53.7% from the field. He was one of five finalists for the 2017-18 Kareem Abdul-Jabar award, given to the nation’s top center, and finished his Bruins career ranked third in career rebounds (1,035), third in blocks (143) and sixth in career double-doubles (37). As a senior the California native posted averages of 12.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 40.7% from three (45-of-112 3FG) and 82.8% from the free throw line. His 10.8 rebounds per game was UCLA’s highest per game average since David Greenwood in 1977-78.

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired forwards Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur, along with a protected 2019 first round draft pick and a 2020 second round draft pick, from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for guard Isaiah Whitehead.

According to the New York Post, “the Lin trade erases his $12.5 million expiring deal from the books.”

More from the Post: “Nets get Faried, and his $13.8 million expiring salary, as well as Darrell Arthur to get a 2019 first-round pick (protected 1-through-12) and a 2020 second-rounder.”

“DA is one of the best guys I have ever come across in all my time in the league,” said Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly . “When we traded for him, he and his amazing wife Niecy instantly impacted our community. They have done so much to help those in need, and almost all of it was done with no fanfare. As a player his toughness, ability to guard multiple positions and stretch the floor will be sorely missed. As a person it’s hard to quantify what he has meant to our team. Brooklyn is getting one of the league’s true gentleman.”

“There aren’t many players in the league who play with more energy or passion than Kenneth Faried,” stated Connelly. “To watch him develop as a player and a man in Denver has been a joy to watch. Last season he handled a diminished role like a consummate professional. I’m excited for his next opportunity, but he will certainly be missed.”

Faried (6’8”, 228) averaged 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game over 32 games for the Nuggets during the 2017-18 season. The Newark, N.J., native played seven seasons for Denver, registering averages of 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per contest through 441 career games. Selected with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Nuggets, Faried earned All-Rookie First Team honors following his inaugural season. The Morehead State product was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and three-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year.

Arthur (6’9”, 235) played in 19 games for the Nuggets during the 2017-18 season, averaging 2.8 points in 7.4 minutes per contest. The Dallas, Texas, native has posted career averages of 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game in 503 career games over nine NBA seasons with Denver (2013-18) and Memphis (2008-13). Arthur was selected with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by New Orleans. He spent two years at the University of Kansas, where he earned All-Big 12 First Team honors as a sophomore and helped lead the Jayhawks to the 2008 National Championship.

Whitehead played in 89 games for Brooklyn over the past two seasons, recording averages of 7.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 20.5 minutes per game. He was selected with the 42nd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by Utah and was acquired by Brooklyn in a draft-night trade.

Nuggets sign Torrey Craig

The Nuggets signed free agent forward Torrey Craig to a multi-year contract today.

“We are thrilled to have Torrey back on our roster. His journey to the NBA was an atypical one and this contract is a testament to his tremendous work ethic and drive,” stated Connelly.

Craig, 27, was signed to a two-way contract with Denver during the 2017-18 season where he averaged 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 39 games (five starts) for the Nuggets. He also appeared in 15 games (12 starts) for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of G League last season, averaging 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.00 blocks and 1.13 steals in 5.0 minutes per game. He also shot .477 from the field and .386 from three for the Skyforce.

The South Carolina native went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft and prior to joining the Nuggets he spent three seasons starring in the Australian National Basketball League. He played for the Brisbane Bullets during the 2016-17 season where he was named both the Australian NBL Defensive Player of the Year and the Most Improved Player while earning All-NBL Second Team honors. He played collegiately at the University of South Carolina-Upstate for four years, earning NABC All-District First Team honors three times and was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year as a sophomore.

The Denver Nuggets have traded forward Wilson Chandler and a future second round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for cash considerations.

“We want to thank Wilson for seven years in Denver,” said Connelly. “As good as a player as he is, he’s an even better person. He will be a great addition in Philly and we will certainly all be rooting for him.”

Chandler, 31, spent seven seasons with Denver, averaging 13.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 357 games (267 starts). Overall he has appeared in 590 career games (447 starts) with New York and Denver, averaging 13.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

Nuggets sign rookie Michael Porter Jr

The Denver Nuggets have signed forward Michael Porter Jr. to his rookie contract.

All players selected in the first round of the draft, as Porter Jr was, are guaranteed to receive a contract. Therefore, this signing is standard and was expected.

Porter Jr., 6-10, 215, was selected by the Nuggets with the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft out of the University of Missouri. He began his collegiate career as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit as a high school senior out of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington. Porter Jr. averaged 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a senior while leading Nathan Hale to a perfect 29-0 record en route to the Washington Class 3A State Championship, the first-ever state title for the school.

The native of Indianapolis was named the MVP of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game as well as winning both the Naismith and Gatorade National Player of the Year awards, joining Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Chris Webber (1991) and Alonzo Mourning (1988) as the only players to ever accomplish the feat. Porter Jr. was named a 2017-18 consensus preseason All-American, the 2017-18 preseason ESPN National Freshman of the Year and the 2017-18 preseason SEC Co-Player of the Year.

The Denver Nuggets selected forward Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th overall pick in tonight’s 2018 NBA Draft. Denver also acquired the draft rights to forward Jarred Vanderbilt at 41st overall from Orlando in exchange for the 43rd pick and a future second round pick and also selected center Thomas Welsh with the 58th pick.

Porter Jr., 6-10, 215, signed with the University of Missouri as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit as a high school senior out of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington. Porter Jr. averaged 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a senior while leading Nathan Hale to a perfect 29-0 record en route to the Washington Class 3A State Championship, the first-ever state title for the school.

The 19-year-old native of Indianapolis was named the MVP of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game as well as winning both the Naismith and Gatorade National Player of the Year awards, joining Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Chris Webber (1991) and Alonzo Mourning (1988) as the only players to ever accomplish the feat. Porter Jr. was named a 2017-18 consensus preseason All-American, the 2017-18 preseason ESPN National Freshman of the Year and the 2017-18 preseason SEC Co-Player of the Year before a back injury limited him to just three games during his debut campaign.

Vanderbilt, 6-9, 214, appeared in 14 games as a freshman for Kentucky, averaging 5.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 17.0 minutes per game. The 19-year-old from Houston averaged 28.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists as a senior at Victory Prep School. Vanderbilt played for the USA Junior National Select Team at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit and was also a member of the U.S. U16 National Team that won Gold at the 2015 FIBA U16 Americas.

Welsh, 7-0, 255, played four seasons at UCLA where he averaged 9.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53.7% from the field. He was one of five finalists for the 2017-18 Kareem Abdul-Jabar award, given to the nation’s top center, and finished his Bruins career ranked third in career rebounds (1,035), third in blocks (143) and sixth in career double-doubles (37). As a senior the California native posted averages of 12.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 40.7% from three (45-of-112 3FG) and 82.8% from the free throw line. His 10.8 rebounds per game was UCLA’s highest per game average since David Greenwood in 1977-78.

Kenneth Faried had been thought of as the future of the Nuggets. That’s in the past. As for the future, here’s the Denver Post reporting as the team looks forward to free agency and the draft:

One potential anchor to rid is forward Kenneth Faried. He was inactive from Feb. 3 through the end of the season, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported the Nuggets have been shopping to trade him for a year. Faried is Denver’s third-highest-paid player with a base salary of almost $13 million, according to Sportrac, and successfully packaging him with the No. 14 pick would give the Nuggets $26.7 million in cap space to work with. Another veteran with a hefty price tag who played sparingly in 2017-18 is Darrell Arthur; he carries a dead cap figure of $14.6 million and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

They’re not the only variables in play as the Nuggets re-evaluate their finances for next season. There’s also Wilson Chandler, who has a player option this season and is due $12.8 million should he choose to return, and Connelly said the Nuggets want to bring back guard Will Barton, who’s an unrestricted free agent…

Connelly said Wednesday that with the No. 14 pick in the draft, the Nuggets are looking for a player with positional versatility who is skilled on the defensive end.

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Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery

Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee has undergone a surgical repair of a core muscle injury this morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia.

The Nuggets say that Plumlee will resume basketball-related activities this summer and should be at full-strength when the team opens training camp for the new season.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment today announced the promotion of Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets President Josh Kroenke to Vice Chairman of KSE and KSE UK.

“This appointment is a well-deserved and long overdue recognition of Josh’s many contributions to not only the Avalanche and Nuggets organizations but also his role in the overall global growth of KSE and our sister companies,” said Jim Martin, KSE CEO and President. “Josh has evolved into a respected leader and innovator in sports business, and is already leading many of our organization’s investments in forward-thinking multimedia platforms and emerging technologies.”

Kroenke, 37, serves on the Board of Governors of the NHL and NBA. He is also a member of the NBA’s influential Planning Committee. In addition to his NBA and NHL responsibilities, he is an Alternate Governor for the Colorado Rapids (MLS), and sits on the board of Arsenal Football Club of the English Premier League.

“While the business of sport has transformed in recent years, we are still just getting started,” Kroenke said. “Our current management structure won’t change, and Joe Sakic of the Avalanche and Tim Connelly of the Nuggets will continue reporting directly to me. This new position allows me the opportunity and flexibility to work closer with employees, fans, sponsors and community leaders to strategize and celebrate the power of sports and entertainment.”

Kroenke’s first role at KSE was with the Nuggets in 2007, where he began learning the organization from the ground up working with departments ranging from scouting to marketing and sales. He was promoted to President of the Nuggets and Governor of the Avalanche in 2010, before assuming the additional title of President with the Avalanche in 2013.

Kroenke has held numerous leadership positions for the Nuggets and Avalanche, playing a pivotal role in hiring Coach of the Year recipients in the NBA and NHL as well as multiple NBA Executive of the Year honorees. As Alternate Governor of the Colorado Rapids, Kroenke helped bring the MLS All-Star Game to Denver in 2015 and helped the Rapids acquire U.S. World Cup goalie Tim Howard in 2016.

The Nuggets and Timberwolves play in Minnesota tonight. The winner makes the NBA playoffs. The loser has to go home and stare at a wall. Or they can watch TV. Maybe eat something. Or hop on a plane and fly to an exotic overseas beach destination. Which sounds cool. But making the playoffs is better. Beaches can wait.

The Western conference playoff seeding situation is complicated. Regarding these two teams, here are the possibilities:

If the Nuggets win tonight, they will either be the 6 or 7 West seed.

If the Timberwolves win, they’ll be the 6, 7 or 8 West seed.

Why? Because a big stack of West playoff teams have almost identical records, and therefore tiebreaker rules come into effect.

Here’s what’s set in the West through Tuesday:
Rockets are the 1-seed.
Warriors are the 2-seed.
Blazers or Jazz are the 3-seed.
The rest will be determined tonight.

InsideHoops.com will turn things things up for the 2018 playoffs. Roll with us daily.

The New York Knicks have acquired guard Emmanuel Mudiay in a three-team deal with Denver and Dallas. In the deal, New York sends forward Doug McDermott to Dallas and its 2018 second-round draft pick to Denver (Subject to Philadelphia’s right to swap that pick with the Los Angeles Clippers second-round pick). Dallas also sends guard Devin Harris to Denver, with Denver sending a 2018 second round pick to Dallas.

“We welcome Emmanuel to New York and are excited to add this talented player to our roster,” said Scott Perry, General Manager, New York Knicks. “He is a young, athletic guard who we feel will be a valuable addition to the Knicks moving forward.”

Mudiay, 6-5, 200-pounds, holds career averages of 11.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds over 25.6 minutes in 165 games (107 starts) through three seasons with Denver. The Democratic Republic of Congo-native is averaging 8.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.2 rebounds over 17.9 minutes in 42 games this season. He was originally selected by Denver with the seventh overall selection of 2015 NBA Draft. He represented the Nuggets in the 2016 Rising Stars game at All-Star Weekend and was named to the 2015-16 All NBA Rookie Second Team.

“We can’t thank Emmanuel enough for his time in Denver” President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said. “Emmanuel has been nothing but a complete professional both on and off the court and has done so much to help improve our organization and the city of Denver. New York is not just getting a good basketball player but a fantastic individual and we wish him the best moving forward.”

McDermott (6-8, 225) holds career averages of 7.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 20.4 minutes per game in 238 games (10 starts) with Chicago, Oklahoma City and New York. He has shot 44.9 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from beyond the arc and 81.8 percent from the foul line for his career.

The fourth-year man out of Creighton averaged 7.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 21.3 minutes per game in 55 games (one start) for the Knicks this season. He is shooting a career-high 46 percent (151-of-328) from the floor and 38.7 percent (53-of-137) from deep in 2017-18.

McDermott was originally selected by Denver with the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but had his draft rights traded to Chicago along with Anthony Randolph in exchange for the draft rights to Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic and a future second-round pick.

On Feb. 23, 2017, McDermott was traded, along with Taj Gibson and a future second-round pick, to Oklahoma City in exchange for Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow and Cameron Payne. On Sept. 25, 2017, he was dealt, along with Enes Kanter and a future second-round pick, to New York in exchange for Carmelo Anthony.

The 6-8 forward played four years for his father, Greg McDermott, at Creighton from 2010-14. He finished his college career ranked fifth on the NCAA Division I all-time scoring list with 3,150 points. As a senior in 2013-14, he led the nation in scoring (26.7 ppg) en route to being named the consensus national player of the year.

McDermott was a high school teammate of Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes at Ames High School (Ames, Iowa). Barnes and McDermott led the Little Cyclones to back-to-back Iowa 4A state championships and a combined 53-0 record during their junior and senior years (2008-09 and 2009-10).

McDermott will wear No. 20 for Dallas.

Devin Harris, 6-3, 192, appeared in 44 games (one start) for Dallas this season, averaging 8.5 points, 1.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. Over 14 seasons, Harris has appeared in 890 career games (446 starts) for Dallas, New Jersey, Utah and Atlanta averaging 11.2 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game.

The 34-year-old has played in 64 playoff games (31 starts) holding averages of 9.1 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 45.0% from the field in 23.7 minutes per game. The University of Wisconsin product was also named to the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team during the 2008-09 season while playing for the New Jersey Nets.

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The Nuggets are 21-20 this season, being led in scoring by SG Garry Harris (16.9 ppg), PG Jamal Murray (16.1 ppg), C Nikola Jokic (15.7 ppg), PF Paul Millsap (15.3 ppg, though he’s been injured and played in just 16 games so far this season, and may return in February), and SG Will Barton (14.5 ppg, mostly off the bench. But right after Barton is young power forward Trey Lyles. Now in his third NBA season, Lyles in just 19.9 minutes per game is putting up 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Solid backup numbers. Here’s the Denver Post with more:

At the start of the season, Trey Lyles was the odd man out amongst Denver’s crowded frontcourt. But since Paul Millsap went down, Lyles has used his versatile inside-outside game and admirable work ethic to thrive as the Nuggets’ first big man off the bench. While playing both forward spots and center, Lyles has compiled 13 consecutive double-figure scoring outings while also averaging 7.5 rebounds per game during that span. His emergence is partially why Kenneth Faried has essentially been pushed out of Denver’s rotation. A tip of the cap here should also go to Torrey Craig, who has parlayed a career in Australia into an NBA two-way contract and, now, a rotation spot as a perimeter defensive stopper.

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Gary Harris scoring big for Nuggets

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The Nuggets are 20-17 this season, good for sixth in the Western conference, narrowly ahead of the Trail Blazers and Pelicans. A solid record, considering they’ve been without new addition Paul Millsap for much of the season. Leading the team in scoring this season has been guard Gary Harris at 16.6 ppg. As for what he’s been producing lately, here’s the Denver Post reporting:

Gary Harris went 9-of-10 from the field in Wednesday’s first quarter against the Suns, unleashing a combination of “easy” cuts and finishes, jumpers from all over the floor and transition buckets.

So when Nikola Jokic glanced up at the scoreboard and saw 20 points next to Harris’ name, any initial surprise quickly subsided.

“I was like, ‘What?! That’s a lot,’ ” Jokic recalled after the game. “You see how he’s aggressive. That’s how he’s supposed to be.”

That was the start of the latest offensive gem for Harris, who went a blistering 14-of-17 from the floor Wednesday night to tie his career-high with 36 points. And that offensive gem was the latest example of the fourth-year guard’s blossoming offensive repertoire, which is now stretching well beyond his reputation as an outside catch-and-shoot threat and benefactor of backdoor passes from Denver’s big men.

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