Juancho Hernangomez has been out of the limelight for much of the season. He doesn’t get the minutes that fellow rookie Jamal Murray gets (partly due to the positional overload at both forward positions) and has even logged a little time in the D-League.
Tonight he showed why he belongs in the rotation - and why coach Michael Malone has to find time for him. In his emergency start (Danilo Gallinari is still out with his groin strain, and Wilson Chandler came down sick) Juancho put up 27 points and 10 rebounds to go with a couple of assists, a steal, a block, and some good defense for the entire 43 minutes he was on the floor. He put in 6 threes, including the record-tying 24th of the evening for Denver, a sure statement for increased playing time.
What did Juancho think about it?
Juancho on if he is trying for more PT: "I don't think so. I try to play my role. I'm a rookie. I need to keep learning from my veterans."— T.J. McBride (@BSN_McBride) February 14, 2017
Having the stamina to play like that on both ends of the court for so many minutes after playing so sporadically is amazing. Juancho works his ass off in the gym putting up shot after shot, and even though as he said, “LeBron kicked my ass last week” he just keeps learning and growing from every exposure to the NBA game that he gets.
Which is why he needs more consistent time. It’s Malone’s hardest problem to solve: how can he get time for all the young players while still getting healthy vets on the floor and winning games all the while? That’s a puzzle that will continue to be a tough solve, unless GM Tim Connelly thins the ranks at the trade deadline.
One player who is almost certain not to be traded? Juancho Hernangomez, who fits the needs of a wing next to Jokic almost perfectly. Enjoy his career night, the first of many yet to come!