J.J. Hickson had a breakout year in Portland last season finally starting to deliver on long-seen promise — he averaged 12.9 points a game on 56.7 percent shooting, 10 rebounds a game and had a PER of 19.9.
However he didn’t fit with the Blazers — Hickson is a four, the Blazers already have one of those in LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland played him at the five, but he’s a four in reality.
Which is likely where Denver will use him as the two sides have agreed to terms, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Denver will give Hickson, a 6-foot-9 forward-center, the annual full mid-level exception of approximately $5 million, plus the 4.5 percent annual bonuses allowed per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources said.
In a lot of ways this is a good fit for the Denver system — Hickson is athletic and very strong in transition, in the half court he can make plays as the roll man or cutting off the ball, and he does all of that with high efficiency. He crashes the offensive glass hard. He will not have to post up nearly as much as in Portland.
The question is where does he fit in the rotation? He’s a power forward (and a little undersized at 6’9”). They already have an energy guy in Kenneth Faried at the four who does a lot of the same things. Having them on the floor at the same time duplicates skill sets. Hickson could come off the bench as an energy big for the Nuggets and play the four, or the five if they go small; he could in theory play the three but he’d be a poor fill in for Andre Iguodala at the spot (that is a steep defensive drop off) and again, he and Faried would be overlapping skill sets. Woj says the Nuggets still want to bring back Timofey Mozgov, but he seems more expendable now.
But the Nuggets have him. He can officially sign with them July 10.