J.J. Hickson was a popular player among Portland Trail Blazers fans and rightfully so. But the announcement this week that he will be signing with the Denver Nuggets is a step in the right direction for both Hickson and the Trail Blazers.
The energy that Hickson showed, along with his consistent rebounding, was enough to win over the fans who appreciate his determined play. More than anyone, Hickson always seemed to show on the court that he’s giving it 100 percent.
Portland focused during the NBA offseason on more defense inside and that was evident when the Blazers acquired Robin Lopez, a 7-foot-1 center. Defense has not been Hickson’s strong suit and it’s among the reasons the Blazers didn’t make it a top priority to keep him. The Trail Blazers lost their last 13 games of the regular season to finish at 33-49 and the lack of defense was definitely a key part of that collapse. Teams in the NBA simply don’t win anymore because of offense. It became a defensive league a long time ago.
While Portland didn’t like Hickson’s lack of defense, he didn’t exactly adore the Blazers lack of a pure center. Hickson, a 6-foot-9 forward, was thriving in the role. He added some nice contributions with 80 starts and the best season of his career with 12.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 56.2 percent shooting from the floor. With the Nuggets, Hickson will see action at forward and should do very well. But the Nuggets will also expect him to play some decent defense in their bid to be NBA contenders.