Year in Review Series
By Zach Mikash
Darrell Arthur spent the summer as a free agent fielding a few offers. He entertained the idea of the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards, but ultimately Arthur would re-sign with the Denver Nuggets on a two year deal (the second being a player option). After a season which saw him post some of the best numbers of his career, his $2.8 million salary made him one of the biggest under the radar steals of last years offseason.
Arthur agreed to his deal with Denver and immediately got to work, often times he could be found honing his game in the Nuggets facility leading up to the beginning of the season. With Kenneth Faried Starting, Arthur settled into the reserve power forward role, but in times like late November when he was called upon to start due to injuries, he did not disappoint. During that particular stretch he had two of his highest scoring performances of the season.
Beyond the scoring he still had the classic DA defense, showing the quickness to defend stretch fours, and the tenacity to not get obliterated inside. His quick hands gave him the ability to create turnovers with regularity. In fact, he was 13th among all power forwards for steals per game this season (among those who played more than half the season) while averaging the third fewest minutes of the group.
When the New Year came, Arthur began to trust his outside shot more, upping his average attempts per game by nearly double. He still had some rocky time shooting though, as evidenced by his scorching +50% 3pt shooting in December and his sub 30% 3pt shooting in January on nearly the same number of attempts. A quad injury would sideline Arthur in the beginning of February and he would not return until after the all star break, and it took him a couple of weeks to get back to full speed.When the trade deadline approached Arthur was certainly attainable for the right price, but he requested that management not trade him to which they obliged.
Arthur would close out the season with his strongest performance all year. His three point attempts went through the roof, but more impressively, so did his shooting percentage. Make no mistake, in the month of March, DA was one of the best three point shooting big men in the Association. He also excelled at getting to the free throw line and would have his best month scoring. When the season ended he was very vocal about returning to Denver next season, but in a recent interview with Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, he was also non committal about accepting his player option for the upcoming year. If Arthur does opt out, he's almost guaranteed to make good on what was a career year.
By Daniel Lewis
That's Darrell Arthur's 3-point percentage in the 16 games he played as a starter. If you look at the games where Arthur played 20 minutes or more, he shot 48.9 percent on 3-point attempts. He isn't a volume shooter, averaging two attempts per game with the standards used above, but he was money when he pulled up from distance. The Nuggets shouldn't try to become the Warriors and copy what they do, but if Nuggets fans are looking for a "stretch-four" to help space the floor, hey, what do you know, Darrell Arthur is right there, and he wants to play in Denver. Pay the man!
Room for improvement
By Gordon Gross
Improvement is easier to expect from younger players. Darrell Arthur is 28 and was drafted 8 years ago. Expecting him to suddenly increase his rebounding prowess is not likely. He has extended his shot out to three point range with diligent work though, and his overall efficiency was as good as it's ever been this year. If he could increase his rebounding it would make it much easier to give him minutes. Not getting offensive rebounds is easier to understand because he spends much of his time outside of the paint, but Arthur was snagging defensive rebounds at a 19% rate in his first couple of years with Memphis and has fall to between 12 and 15% in recent years.
This past year was his best on that end since the early part of his career, so continued improvement in that area would be welcome. For the most part I want Arthur to keep his gains from three-point range and in rebounding, however. If he can make that a stable part of his game rather than an anomaly the Nuggets will be well served.
By Gordon Gross
Most of Darrell's highlights showcase other people. He cuts well to the basket when Jokic is out of the paint passing the ball, which is a good skill but more an indicator of Jokic's ability to find him. I did like this play against Zach Randolph, though, where Arthur shows that he might not be the best rebounder but he's still willing to fight for the ball - and able to win against some of the strongest in the league.
Best Game of the Year
By Gordon Gross
Arthur had several good games, but I'll go with the one against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 31st. Arthur was aggressive about getting his shot off, took (and made) a bunch of threes, and rebounded better than Arthur usually is capable of. He carried Denver's offense in that game - they eventually lost, but without Darth it would have been a blowout.
Will you please make an argument for Darrell Arthur starting for the 2016-17 Denver Nuggets? (Note that I said please)
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): If the team wants to take advantage of Emmanuel Mudiay's ability to drive and dish to players that can score from the perimeter, then they should strongly consider playing Arthur more minutes with their franchise point guard. That means putting him in the starting lineup and opening the paint for Mudiay. Why not see what happens if he takes four corner threes a game? There is already proof that Michael Malone trusts Arthur to play in the fourth quarter - if he's part of the Nuggets best lineup to close games, he should be part of the Nuggets best lineup to start games too.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): No, I won't. I don't think he should be starting. He's an excellent bench big, not a starting big.
Zach Mikash(@ZachMikash): Well, if you're starting Jusuf Nurkic then I can definitely see it working. Arthur showed he's got the ability to stretch the floor, which will help keep the lane open even with the lumbering Bosnian down there. On top of that, think of that defensive pairing! Arthur/Nurkic has the potential to be a smothering combo on that side of the court, the likes of which we've not seen since the Laphonso Ellis/Dikembe Mutombo days (for the record, I said LIKE that...I'm not comparing Nurkic to Mutombo). However, this lineup begs the question of what to do with Nikola Jokic
Fans love that Nikola Jokic can stretch the floor with his 3-point shot, but lo and behold, Darrell Arthur was more efficient on 3-point attempts and had more makes. Is stretch-four Darrell a sure thing or an isolated occurrence
Lewis: Since joining the Nuggets, Arthur has always had that catch-and-shoot 18-footer that he can bust out. It's a shot he gets his legs under and has made enough to make opponents respect it. This season he moved out to the 3-point line, and surprise, surprise, he started making those too. If he works on building core strength, and getting those 3-point attempts practiced from the corner and wing, I don't see why he can't shoot near 40 percent on those this next season. Add in the factor of improved chemistry with Mudiay, who is so good at getting players the ball in a good position to shoot, and I think he'll be able to repeat this season's performance. I think his perimeter shooting is for real.
Mares: I think it is a sure thing. At media day, Darrell talked about cutting out certain types of 3-point shots, namely those from above the break. He said that he was a decent three-point shooter from the corners and wing but not from above the key. This year he proved that he knew what he was talking about. I don't think Darrell will ever have a ton of "gravity," meaning, I don't think defenses will ever stretch themselves thin trying to guard him out there, but he has a reliable shot and knows where to shoot it.
Mikash: He's definitely going to be a stretch guy. If you remember Darrell used to be all alley-oop slams and chase down rejections in Memphis before he tore his achilles, and he's just now getting back to a similar production level but he's doing it in a completely different way. His game ages much better now and he really found his groove shooting at the end of the season.
Darrell Arthur has a player option for the 2016-17 season, worth roughly $2.9 million. Will he opt in for one more season, or will he try to get a new contract with the Denver Nuggets? If he opts out, what offer (Years/salary) would you make if you were the Nuggets general manager?
Lewis: It might help the Nuggets if Arthur opts out and signs a new contract with the Nuggets. Factoring in the three draft picks they currently have (7, 15, 19), they'll be about $13 million under the salary floor. If I was Tim Connelly, I'd offer him a contract in the range of a four-year, $36 million offer. That keeps him in Denver for the next few years, is a similar offer he could get from other teams, and helps bolster the Nuggets power forward position.
Mares: I love Darrell and would love for him to come back to the team but I have no idea why he'd want to come back given that he could probably get an offer from several contenders. That being said, if he wants to be in Denver and opts out of his deal, I would try to front load his deal as much as possible. The Nuggets will likely have money to spend next year and will need flexibility in years down the line so front loading it would be the way to go.
Mikash: Alright Stiffs, here it is. If Darrell Arthur doesn't opt out of his contract, I'll eat my shoe. I can't possibly see a reason for him not to. He's going to be making a metaphorical NBA pittance next season at his current salary and after the year he had plus the expanding salary cap, he's due for a raise, and probably a big one. Brandan Wright, who's the same age as Arthur and puts up roughly the same overall production, got 3 years, $18 million last season. Let's adjust for the anticipated cap inflation of roughly 28% and DA could potentially be around a 3 year, $23 million dollar deal.