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2021-22 Denver Nuggets Media Day
Vlatko Čančar at Media Day 2021-22
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Can Vlatko Čančar break into the Nuggets rotation this year?

Previewing the 2021-22 season for Nuggets forward Vlatko Čančar

Vlatko Čančar 2020-21 per game statistics

Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Field Goal % Three-Point % Estimated Plus-Minus
41 6.9 2.1 1.2 0.3 45.8 27.3 -2.7

Overview

Vlatko Čančar is a very polarizing player among Nuggets fans: some fans love what he brings to the table, and some don’t see the allure. Čančar simply doesn’t play a whole lot of minutes, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to sit out three to four games in a row last season. Vlatko is constantly trying to adjust to his role and find any minutes he can get.

Still he has shown flashes of being a good NBA player. He scored 14 points on May 13th against the Timberwolves, including shooting 3-of-4 from three-point range along with three rebounds and two assists in only 17 minutes. Čančar also played for his home country of Slovenia in the Tokyo Olympics, alongside NBA superstar Luka Dončić. Vlatko Čančar averaged 12.8 points a game in the Olympics, the third highest average on his team and 22nd in the overall Olympic field. The most points he scored in a game was 22 vs Spain. The best part about Čančar’s showing in the Olympics had to be his three-point shooting. He shot 48% from behind the arc, including a perfect 3/3 game and a 4/7 game on the biggest stage of his career.

Best Case

Čančar is in an interesting spot this year, this could be his last chance to prove he belongs in the NBA. The best case scenario for Vlatko this year is the backup small forward or power forward position. Čančar is strong enough to guard most backup power forwards but may be best suited as a small forward in Denver’s rotation. The Nuggets bench unit will need shooting this year, and Čančar has always offered decent shooting and decent defense.

After a promising showing in the Olympics, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Nuggets give him more consistent playing time in the beginning of the season. All Vlatko has to do from there is play good hustle defense and be a solid 3 point shooter and he could very easily play himself into a regular spot on the bench unit. This could finally be Čančar’s year. He is well liked among the team as well as the coaching staff and the Nuggets generally go with players they know and trust over newer guys. Vlatko has the skill set and the size that the Nuggets could use off the bench. It’s just a matter of if Čančar can play at that level consistently every night.

Worst Case

The worst case scenario for Vlatko Čančar this year is getting little to no minutes and only playing in garbage time. That's not too unrealistic either. The Nuggets improved this offseason internally and externally. Čančar will have to fight for his minutes with PJ Dozier, Zeke Nnaji, both of the Green’s, and even Bol Bol. Each of those players is a solid to good shooter too. If Čančar wants to get more minutes he will have to become a better shooter or defender than those guys, which is no easy task at this stage.

I can't ignore the ending of the Clippers pre-season game either, which was just plain ugly. For those that didn’t see it, Vlatko missed a wide open layup to put us up by two with 1:07 to go in the 4th. After the play stopped he slammed the ball down in anger and was rewarded with a technical foul. The Nuggets lost by one point. This was in a preseason game so take it with a grain of salt, but that just cannot happen in a regular season game. If he were to make that same mistake in a regular season situation, he would never see the light of the rotation again.

Bold Prediction

Personally, I love Vlatko. Even though he might not be the best player on the court I love having him on the team. Čančar brings a much needed skill set to the Nuggets bench, and I hope for his sake and that of the team’s that Vlatko has a good year for us. Him and Jokic are good buddies, and seeing that relationship grow on the court would be very cool. I do think that Vlatko Čančar’s role on this team is gonna be minute, however it won't be zero. He will get a ton of garbage time minutes this season and I would not be surprised if Čančar has a 20+ point game off the bench later in the season.

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