When the Denver Nuggets reacquired Arron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic for his second stint with the team, they were essentially admitting they made a mistake by letting him go in the first place. The Nuggets have a chance that countless men throughout history have wished for; another shot with the one who got away.
For those of you who may not remember, the Nuggets sent Afflalo to Orlando as part of the three way deal that landed Dwight Howard with the Los Angeles Lakers, and sent Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets. While Aflalo thrived in Orlando, Iguodala played one average season for the Nuggets before opting out of his final contract and heading to the Golden State Warriors, who he had apparently been in bed with since the playoff series between the two teams the year before.
The Nuggets lack of a true perimeter threat was palpable during Afflalo’s two season absence, and they clearly made an attempt to address that need this offseason by trading reacquiring him and drafting Gary Harris.
Now, heading into Brian Shaw’s second season, with a real opportunity to implement his offense, one that is supposed to be better suited for playoff basketball, Afflalo may just be the linchpin to its success.
Predicated heavily on set plays, that require penetration into the lane by either Ty Lawson or Nate Robinson, with an option to kick the ball out to the perimeter, the long ball will be of utmost importance this year. And that is exactly where Afflalo excels.
In the past two seasons, the Nuggets have been a very average three-point shooting team, ranking in the bottom half both years in terms of overall percentage. Last season, they were slightly better than the previous year, but they took far fewer three-point shoots, and it was much less a part of their game plan.
With Afflalo, and to a lesser extent Harris, on the team, I expect the three ball to become more of a focal point of this offense, which will ultimately open up more lanes for our athletic wing players to slash through. This will ultimately increase their field goal percentage, and get them more free throws which, if they can convert, amount to easy points.
The bottom line is that Afflalo must not just be good this year as he has been the past two seasons, he needs to be a viable option on the All-Star ballot. His ability to convert easy shots from long distance will translate directly to the overall success of the Nuggets’ offense, and to their season as a whole.
So, welcome back Mr. Afflalo. No pressure, but this season rests heavily on your shoulders.