Chris Dempsey with the Denver Post said today that Darrell Arthur is at least 10-14 days away from getting back into a game.
#Nuggets F Darrell Arthur (knee) estimates he'll be ready for a return in 10-14 days. He'd like to get some practice in b4 the season starts— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) October 11, 2016
This is of course Arthur’s own estimation, which experience tells us is generally optimistic when it’s coming from the player itself (unless you’re Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith just filled your new ride with buttered popcorn). Regardless, even DA’s timeline is cutting it close to the beginning of the season. The Denver Nuggets open on the road October 29th against the New Orleans Pelicans which, for you non-math majors out there, is a total of 18 days away.
Not having DA presents a problem for the Nuggets. With Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic looking more and more likely to be the starters at the four and five, the Nuggets have only Kenneth Faried as a player on the bench who has actually played those positions for significant time in the NBA. Wilson Chandler and Juancho Hernangomez will likely be asked to fill in some of the void at the power forward spot and Faried likely will slide over to center with the Nuggets playing some more small ball lineups (which is likely to happen even when Arthur gets back). While all of those scenarios are serviceable, I’d speculate that coach Michael Malone wouldn’t consider any of them ideal.
Arthur also plays a huge role for the Nuggets bench. He is by far the best big they have when it comes to hedging on the pick and roll and also has been the only big who seems to have a semblance of ability to defend the perimeter. Jokic and Nurkic lack the speed and Faried appears, at times, to lack the motivation or skill. Chandler can do it pretty well but again, he’s really more of a small forward who can fill in every now and then at power forward. Beyond his defense, Arthur is the best stretch big on the team as well. In fact, only D.J. Augustin shot it better from beyond the arc for the Nuggets last season (no, Faried going 1-2 on the season doesn’t count). Arthur’s ability to space the floor is even more crucial this season with Nurkic’s big body likely to fill up the lane much more frequently, something that Faried’s skillset does little, if anything, to mitigate.
The Nuggets have had the injury bug hit them early this year, though nothing has been catastrophic. Gary Harris is out three to four weeks or four to six weeks, depending on who you ask, with a tear in his groin muscle and now it looks like DA being ready to go opening night might not happen either. Here’s hoping no other injuries come anytime soon and DA makes a speedy recovery in time to clip the Pelicans wings.