Denver Nuggets: Darrell Arthur’s Role

The Denver Nuggets’  most recent offseason has been the topic of discussion all summer long. Part of that is because it’s September and there’s not much to write about, but the other part of that is that it was pretty appalling. For the past few seasons, the Denver Nuggets have been a consistently great team, much like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad have been consistently great shows. But this past summer ranked somewhere between Game of ThronesRed Wedding and Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” in terms of pure horror occurring right in front of fans’ disbelieving faces. It makes sense, then, that a move like trading Kosta Koufos for Darrell Arthur slipped through the cracks.

Darrell Arthur’s career averages are understandably mediocre: he’s posted 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game over the course of four years in the NBA. Other than his rookie season, when he started 63 of 76 games, Arthur’s been relegated to backup duties to the majority of his career and has never played more than 20.1 minutes per game in a season. But that wasn’t too long ago (the 2010-11 season, to be precise) when Arthur submitted the best season of his career.

He only started in nine of his 80 games played that season, but Arthur was a valuable member of the Memphis Grizzlies off the bench. He averaged 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the floor and 81.3 percent from the free-throw line. He posted a career-high Player Efficiency Rating of 15.7 and posted per 36 minutes numbers of 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 assists per game. Not bad for a perennial role player.

With the Denver Nuggets, Arthur’s chances of cracking the starting lineup are about the same as the chance that Vince Gilligan will blow the ending to Breaking Bad: worse than impossible. But after Kenneth Faried, the power forward position is pretty open for playing time. It’s possible that the Nuggets play J.J. Hickson at the backup power forward position, but he really makes more sense as a backup center instead of pairing Hickson and Timofey Mozgov together in the frontcourt off the bench. That means that at the very least, Darrell Arthur will get the chance to prove himself to first-year coach Brian Shaw.

And believe it or not, I think Darrell Arthur is in store for another solid year much like his best season in 2010-11. Not many people really noticed him then and not many will notice him this season if he has another (kind of) breakout year. But the Nuggets are going to rely solely on their offense this season since about 1.5 players in Denver are actually capable of playing defense. And that means that bench scoring, an area of production that will need to replace the energetic Corey Brewer (and likely, Andre Miller). Pretty much anything Arthur can give the Nuggets off the bench is a plus, and I’m willing to bet Shaw would be ecstatic if he came anywhere near his career-best 9.1 points per game.

A few years ago, when I would play NBA 2K10, I would play as the Memphis Grizzlies every now and then and I would get a good laugh out of my friends when the subs came in and I had Darrell Arthur taking the majority of my shots. I even added a loud cry of “DA-RRELL!” every time he shot the ball to lend an extra degree of ridiculousness to the situation. But you know what’s funny? Arthur made the majority of those close jumpers and he’d get wide open layups from hustle plays. My friends would roll their eyes and crack up laughing at how I kept scoring with a relatively unknown player, but maybe we were missing the point. Maybe he is worth knowing.

It’s true, my ability to score with Darrell Arthur in a video game doesn’t mean he’s a great NBA player. After all, I used to drop 50-60 points a game in NBA Live 2003 with Darko Milicic and we all know how his NBA career turned out. But with the Nuggets, Arthur has the opportunity to receive decent minutes and he has the skill set to deliver when he’s called upon. And after a pretty daunting offseason, something tells me Darrell Arthur can make sure Denver won’t miss Kosta Koufos too much.

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