The Denver Nuggets are going to miss the 2014 NBA Playoffs. After entering the postseason as the three-seed in the Western Conference last season before promptly being upset by the upstart Golden State Warriors, the Nuggets have largely been disappointing in their first season under the tutelage of new head coach Brian Shaw.
One of the most disappointing developments for the Nuggets was the ACL tear of Nate Robinson earlier this year. Even for a team that has been disappointing, Robinson was a guy that provided excitement and gave this team at least a shroud of hope. With him gone, the Nuggets now have another key player that’s done for the season with an ACL tear.
It was announced this weekend that starting center J.J. Hickson has a torn ACL and will obviously be out for the remainder of the regular season. In 69 games this season in his first year with Denver, Hickson has put up 11.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.9 minutes per game. While he’s not been any help defensively and has often been criticized, the injury depletes the Nuggets’ frontcourt a great deal heading into the last month or so of the season.
With Hickson out and the Nuggets’ season in terms of making the postseason being over, an interesting option for them is to start giving Jan Vesely more run in their rotation than he’s seen since being traded to Denver at the deadline.
Vesely, the sixth-overall pick in 2011, has played just 10.9 minutes per game in 11 appearances with Denver, not seeing the floor enough to really do much. However, when he’s been on the floor with the Nuggets and the Washington Wizards prior to being traded, he had shown flashes of improvement.
Vesely is still only 23 years old at this point and while he’s often called a bust, it’s hard to fully believe that he’s done developing. With nothing really left to play for this season in Denver, giving Vesely the opportunity to get experience and to showcase his improvements is really a no-risk move.
The forward suffered a hip injury on Sunday night, which could put this plan on the shelf if it keeps him out for any amount of time considering how few games remain this year. However, if he’s able to go, I see no reason why Vesely shouldn’t get his chance in Denver with Hickson out.