Per the Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey, the Nuggets have made their decision on the 15th man for Denver’s roster. As expected, it looks to be center Jarnell Stokes.
League sources: #Nuggets will waive Robbie Hummel and Nate Wolters. That means Jarnell Stokes has made the roster.— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) October 22, 2016
This is not a huge shock as Stokes received more minutes than the other options for that last roster spot and fills a roster need to boot. Stokes, a center-type who measures in at 6-foot-8-inches and 250 pounds, is a post player and a good one at that. He won the Most Valuable Player award in the D-League for the 2015-16 season, averaging 20.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. That rebounding prowess has carried over this preseason and likely helped cement his roster spot. With the Nuggets he is insurance against injuries to either Nikola Jokic or Jusuf Nurkic, the only two true centers on the roster.
With Joffrey Lauvergne, last year’s backup at both front court positions, traded off earlier this off-season the Nuggets did not have a true post backup. Kenneth Faried has been playing a lot at the 5 this preseason but doesn’t fill the same sort of paint anchor role that Stokes does.
Jarnell may spend more time in the D-League again this year in order to get him regular court time rather than filling the role of inactive bench cheerleader, but as someone who has spent the preseason with the Nuggets he understands their principles and can easily be recalled for duty if needed. With Darrell Arthur already questionable to start the season and Juancho Hernangomez still learning the ropes as a rookie, Stokes has a path to minutes here as well as the talent to actually help on the court, and is a welcome addition at that 15th man spot.
The Nuggets are very deep this year when Stokes is the 15th man on the squad. There’s no telling how Malone will manage his roster or who might be shipped off to the D-League to get in more playing time, but that’s a good problem to have for a squad that has been beset by injury the last few years and is trying to make a push for the playoffs.
Welcome to Denver Jarnell! We’re glad to see you stick in the League this time around.