Dec 7, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Denver Nuggets forward JJ Hickson (7) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nuggets defeated the Sixers 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: Replacing J.J. Hickson

The 2013-14 Denver Nuggets are playing without their leading scorer, shot blocker, backup point guard, and with J.J. Hickson out for the rest of the season, they are now down their leading rebounder as well.

The Nuggets announced on Saturday that J.J. Hickson has a torn ACL and is getting surgery which will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Sigh … another one bites the dust. I can’t remember a team having THIS many rotation players out due to injury.

And I haven’t been the biggest J.J. Hickson fan since he’s arrived in Denver. I never thought he should start for this team, but I have to give credit where it is due. He is still the leading rebounder on the team and his play helped the team win a few games, including the win against the Portland Trail Blazers when he grabbed 25 rebounds.

With or without J.J. Hickson, the game must go on. The Nuggets need to put some wins together against a tough schedule to carry some momentum into the offseason and get some positive energy around the team.

Sigh … I swear this team is cursed with back luck. But how does Brian Shaw replace his leading rebounder for the last 12 games of the season?

Well if Sunday’s win against the Washington Wizards is any indication, the Nuggets will start Anthony Randolph in J.J. Hickson’s place and split his minutes between him and newcomer Jan Vesely.

As much as I’m not a fan of J.J. Hickson, I’m much less a fan of both Randolph and Vesely. Neither are quality bigs for an NBA team. So, I think the best thing the Nuggets can do is to give almost all of J.J. Hickson’s minutes to Darrell Arthur.

To give Brian Shaw credit, he did give Arthur a sizeable increase in minutes in Sunday night’s game. Arthur played 25 minutes in the win against the Wizards, which is 9.0 more than his season average. However, that is not enough. Arthur is clearly a better choice for the Nuggets than Randolph and Vesely for a couple of reasons, and he should soak up a vast majority of the new minutes.

First, Arthur is a best screener the Nuggets have on the team. There is no real stat to prove it, as this is an observation, but I feel a lot better with Arthur setting the screen over any big on the team including Hickson. The nice thing about Arthur setting those screens is that he is also one of the best midrange shooters the Nuggets have on the team, which give the Nuggets a combo of options off the screen.

For the season Arthur is shooting 42.1 percent from the floor and 51 percent from 3. Giving him more minutes not gives the Nuggets the best chance to win, but also allows us to really get a sense of those shooting percentages.

Also, Arthur is clearly the best defender out of him, Randolph, and Vesely. Vesely hasn’t played enough NBA games for him to be a good defender, and according to’s statistics Arthur has a 98.3 overall defensive rating (number of points allowed per 100 possessions) compared to Randolph’s 104.3.

It makes sense for Brian Shaw to try a couple of different lineups when replacing J.J. Hickson, but this far into the season we already know the best choice to eat up the most of Hickson’s minutes is Darrell Arthur.

Tags: Anthony Randolph Brian Shaw Darrell Arthur J.j. Hickson Jan Vesely

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