While most of the talk about Denver this offseason was on the top of the roster getting healthy — Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. should be back after missing almost all of last season — the Nuggets shook up their bench.
Denver traded Monte Morris and Will Barton to Washington for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. KCP should provide the wing defense the Nuggets desperately need more of, plus he can shoot the 3 (39% last season) and has championship experience (2020 Lakers).
That trade was also a big bet by the Nuggets that sophomore Bones Hyland is ready to step into a bigger role, and he knows it, he told Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
His immediate reaction once the deal was finalized?
“(It’s) go time,” he said….
“I knew what the move was,” Hyland told The Denver Post last week via Zoom. “They were already contacting me before and letting me know what was happening. After the moves even happened, the coaches called me, players called me, like, ‘Time to just go out there and be Bizzy. It’s a big opportunity for you.’ And they tell me every day, like, ‘You’re going to have a big role, big opportunity, a lot more minutes, just to just go out there and be yourself.’”
Monte Morris was arguably the best backup point guard in the NBA (and he should solidify the Wizards at the point next to Bradley Beal). For a team with championship aspirations like Denver, he can only be traded if the team believes it has a replacement lined up. Enter Hyland, who will have a sixth man role this season for the Nuggets.
Hyland averaged 10.1 points and 2.8 assists a game as a rookie last season, but he got more and more run — and showed he could handle it — as the season progressed. Hyland averaged 12.8 points a game with a 63.8 true shooting percentage (and 40% from 3) after the All-Star break, showing off the ability to get to the rim against anyone.
Denver has bet on him taking a step forward in his sophomore season off those second-half numbers. They also need him to improve on the defensive end.
He’s going to get the chance. Denver has made a big bet on him this season.