According to Shams Charania of Yahoo, the Denver Nuggets and Torrey Craig have agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth $4 million.

Craig played 39 games with the Nuggets during the 2017-18 season, averaging 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds on 16.1 minutes per game. He shot 57.0% from 2-point range last year but just 29.3% from 3-point territory and 62.9% at the free throw line. His primary role last season was as a defensive stopper in a rotation full of offensive-minded players. His energy, rebounding, and attention to detail defensively made him a favorite of head coach Michael Malone, and this skill set will give him an edge in earning a permanent rotation spot next season.

There were multiple games last season in which Craig had a game-winning impact. He went 5/5 from the field and 3/3 from behind the arc in his third game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He accumulated one steal and three blocks against the Los Angeles Clippers late in the season in a must-win. His role offensively never involved him taking many shots, but given some improvement in his shooting touch, he has the potential to become an impactful offensive player in a small role, especially next to Nikola Jokic.

It’s clear that Denver is going into next season with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, and Jokic as the projected starters. Behind each of Murray, Harris, and Barton are question marks. Before Craig signed, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez (assuming Michael Porter Jr. isn’t healthy by opening night) are the projected backups. Craig provides another potential option for Malone to rotate in there to add more defense, something none of the other options provide.

As Craig becomes more comfortable in the NBA, I expect his jump shot to come around. It doesn’t have to be elite, but it needs to be a threat for him to stick in an NBA rotation. His 2-point percentage is extremely high at this stage, but the most important factor will always be his jumper. He’s a gritty player that will help earn the Nuggets points through offensive rebounding, steals and blocks on defense, and running hard in transition. That’s not enough to be a consistent rotation player though. If he ever reaches the threshold of a 35% 3-point shooter, he will become an extremely valuable player.

There’s a major opportunity for Craig in Denver now that Chandler is gone and Barton has moved into the starting lineup. Denver has scorers. They don’t need Craig to score, as long as whoever does run the bench when Jokic sits knows how to make it work. Right now, it looks like Monte Morris could be that guy. Rotating a starting guard like Murray, Harris, or Barton and staggering the minutes of those three should provide the necessary scoring punch to make things work without Jokic.

Either way, it’s nice to see the Nuggets reward Torrey Craig with a two-year deal. Being on a two-way contract involved lots of travel, double duty on G-League and Nuggets assignments, and a stressful way of life. Craig earned this, and it’s nice to see the Nuggets on the giving end of his victory.

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