First Will Barton went down with a hip injury in the second game of the season. Then in rapid succession over a one-week span, both Gary Harris, who likewise hurt his hip, and Paul Millsap with a broken toe, also joined the ranks of the Denver Nuggets’ walking wounded.
Casualties have been piling up for the Denver Nuggets to the point where those three starters are missing extended time, a fourth, Jamal Murray, was banged up enough that his status was questionable entering last night’s game, and three more reserves including Isaiah Thomas have been out since the beginning of the season with to timetable for return.
With so many key players sidelined, Denver decided to use the injury hardship relief exception allotted to them by the NBA to bring on board not only some extra firepower, but also a large dose of swag, in order to bolster their depleted roster.
The Nuggets announced yesterday prior to Denver’s 105-99 win over the Memphis Grizzlies that they had signed 11-year veteran guard Nick Young, the uber-confident though sometimes erratic gunner known just as commonly as Swaggy P.
Young was cleared to play against the Grizzlies, but head coach Michael Malone did not use the opportunity to debut Denver’s new addition. If he had, it presumably would have been when Memphis went up 72-65 over the Nuggets on a Marc Gasol 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, and things started to look dire for Denver.
But Malone opted instead to send in the usual bench trio of Monte Morris, Trey Lyles and Malik Beasley alongside Nikola Jokic and Murray, who did play despite his questionable status. That lineup proceeded to go on a 13-2 run, quickly overtaking the lead and presumably reinforcing Malone’s confidence in the known quantity of his tried and trusted players.
Since Young did not play, it remains unclear how large of a role he will have going forward, which lineups Malone will deploy him with, and how exactly he will fit into the Nuggets’ free-flowing, movement-based offense.
But one thing that is very much known, and about which there can be no doubt, is what Swaggy does – and that is to shoot. And shoot. And shoot. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Nick Young is one of just nine players in NBA history with a career usage rate over 22% playing under 23 minutes per game in over 700 games. In other words, he is one of the league’s most heavy-usage role players ever given his propensity to shoot the ball whenever he gets his hands on it.
With so many of Denver’s leading scorers out, the offensive punch Young can bring (he has 17 career games of 30 points or more) is a welcome addition , but it how well he will integrate into the Nuggets’ team-oriented brand of play may raise some doubts until proven otherwise.
That said, in his pre-game interview Young was all smiles and appeared elated to have the chance to be back on an NBA roster again, so the Nuggets are likely hoping that his appreciation for the opportunity to return to action will help fuel his motivation to buy into Denver’s system and team culture.
According to EarlyBirdRights.com, Young’s salary will be set at $1,042,584 this season, with a $1,618,852 team option for 2019-20 , per the terms of the injury exception. In a concurrent move to clear space for Young, the Nuggets also waived guard Brandon Goodwin, who likewise was signed using the injury exception two weeks ago, but did not play in any games for Denver. EarlyBirdRights’ Jeff Siegel, who is also a contributor to Forbes, explained on Twitter that Goodwin’s contract will add $66,319 of “dead money” to the Nuggets’ cap sheet. This, however, should be a relatively inconsequential cost for Denver to incur, especially since they are unlikely to be a taxpaying team this season.
Young may not yet know how his short- or long-term future with the Nuggets will unfold, but for now, he seems genuinely excited to have joined the team, asking, “A young team playing for the top contender in the West? Who wouldn’t want to play with somebody that’s hungry and ready to win?”
“Just throw me out there, and see what happens.”
If Young has his way, and he likely will, the world will indeed soon see Swaggy P back in action.
Source: Forbes | Joel Rush | December 11, 2018