Quick note: Thanks to all of you for staying active in my absence. With no internet connection for a week I felt like I was in NBA exile and basically was jonesin' for an NBA news fix ... thanks again and now let's get back to it!
Figures that as soon as I leave town that the Nuggets decide to pull the trigger on yet another trade (hopefully again as one-sided as the Billups trade) with the Detroit Pistons. While this trade is old news for all of you ... I'm just starting to have it sink in since returning from some R&R in the great Northwest.
With the addition of Arron Afflalo the Nuggets continue the trend of adding shooting guards with difficult names to spell ... Yakhouba Diawara, DerMarr Johnson, Dahntay Jones, and now Afflalo. I'll sleep easier knowing that 2010 NBA draft prospect Al-Farouq Aminu out of Wake Forest plays power forward.
Let's delve in a bit more to Denver's newest Nugget after the jump.
I'm fairly confident when I say that adding Afflalo pretty much cements the starting shooting guard spot for J.R. Smith. Afflalo has the ability to be a pretty good perimeter defender and provides some scoring pop that should pretty much wipe out the loss created by Dahntay Jones accepting a deal with the Pacers.
I can't fault Jones for taking the money and a chance at a starting spot, but I applaud the Denver front office for finding a player on the cheap (just a second round pick) that can come in right away and solidify a rotation spot.
One-third of the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend's Shooting Stars team is a Denver Nugget.
Afflalo is a 6'5'' and 215 lb. shooting guard (Jones is 6'6'' 210 lbs ... closer to 6'4'') who will be just 24 years old when the 2009-10 season kicks off (celebrating number 24 October 15th.)
Here is what Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien had to say about Afflalo and forward Walter Sharpe via NBA.com:
“We are very pleased to add two young promising prospects like Arron and Walter to our veteran roster,” said Warkentien. “Arron is a proven NBA defender with an incredible work ethic and Walter is a talented but raw player with tremendous upside.”
Arron has seen his stats increase in each of his first two seasons in the league to go along with increased playing time.
Afflalo's three-point stats are fairly impressive. In his rookie campaign he went just 10-48 from deep, but in his second season he went 43-107 and nearly made as many bombs as took the previous season. It would appear that Afflalo is now comfortable with the NBA three-point line and should fill a nice role in the drive-and-dish Denver system.
Another element that I like from Afflalo is his free throw percentages. He took more foul shots in his rookie season (where he was not shooting as much from downtown) than he did last season, but he should be a steady shot from the freebie line and the Nuggets will welcome that, I know I will.
Afflalo from the foul line:
I would suspect that by hopefully averaging roughly 20 minutes a night and in Denver's aggressive offensive system that Afflalo will roughly double his free throw attempts from last season. Dahntay Jones took 151 foul shots for Denver last season in 18.1 minutes per game. Jones probably depended more on getting to the line than Afflalo will have to, since Arron should be more of a threat from the perimeter, but an increase in attempts should be coming.
Afflalo's role with the team:
There has been a lot of chatter about Sonny Weems getting a shot to be Denver's backup shooting guard. It's tough to be sold on a guy who didn't see much NBA action, especially when Denver makes a move to bring in a young guard. The Denver Post has a story today talking about Weems trying to earn playing time through his Summer League play, but the following quote from the story from George Karl doesn't sound promising:
"Sonny is an athletic player that's got to learn how to play basketball," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "At times it looks like he's taking that step, and then at times it doesn't look like he's taking that step. He has 10 days here at summer league. He's going to have to figure out his niche. He's got the talent to play in the league. The question will be: Does he have the mind to play in the league?
"I think, in general, this summer and September and October will be very important to him."
full story here
To me, the backup shooting guard minutes are Afflalo's to lose. Denver would not have made this move if they didn't feel Arron could fill the void at the two guard. Any time you lose a good teammate and a guy who didn't command the ball on offense, like Jones, it's tricky to replace that chemistry and identity. Afflalo is still on the upswing in his NBA career, while we've probably seen Jones' ceiling as an NBA player.
The Nuggets love taking chances on young talent and well, taking chances in general. This move is not the big splash that a lot of fans were hoping for, but this move could pave the way for J.R. Smith to really blossom while at the same time allowing Denver to gain a valuable role player and rising talent.
On paper this is another low radar, but savvy move by Denver's front office team. How it will translate on the court will be determined by the Nuggets' success this season as a team and the individual play of two maturing young players in J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo.
Welcome to a winner Double A ... you're in the majors now.
Nickname: Until further notice I'll probably refer to Arron Afflalo as "Double A" ... easy to type. Anybody have suggestions on a nickname? Leave them in the comments section!