Darrell Arthur was given a three-year deal worth $23 million by Denver last summer and he was expected to be the floor-spacing power forward that can defend anywhere on the court. Instead, this season Arthur’s knees would not cooperate. The 29-year-old led played just 41 games and averaged just 15.6 minutes per contest. Denver’s high hopes for Arthur dissipated as fast as his arthritic knee would flare up.
Arthur had one of his better seasons shooting the ball but never found a rhythm being in and out of the lineup so often.
Arthur contributed 6.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and one assist in 15.6 minutes per game while shooting 45.3 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 44.2 percent from the field.
What grade would you give Arthur’s season?
Harrison Wind (@NBAWind): B
Joel Rush (@NuggetsDenJoel): Incomplete.
Kalen Deremo (@PrincePickaxe): Incomplete.
T.J. McBride (@BSN_McBride): C.
Harrison: Due to knee soreness that bothered Arthur all year, the power forward was only able to play in 41 games this season, but when he was on the floor, he was productive and valuable for Denver. The Nuggets’ defense was more than two points per 100 possessions better with Arthur on the floor — where Arthur’s value really lies — and he shot 45.3 percent from three on nearly three attempts per game. I won’t hold Arthur’s healthy against him in my grade. Arthur also had the Nuggets’ sixth-best Net Rating at -0.4.
Joel: Not only did Arthur miss 41 games, he never played more than eight consecutively, so he never got anything remotely close to a regular rotational role or rhythm established. On top of that, even when he did play, much of the time he was hobbled by his ongoing knee injury. He just never got the chance to play consistently at full health, so his performance can’t fairly be graded.
Kalen: This past season was Arthur’s least productive since coming to Denver four years ago. He played the second least amount of minutes in his eight-year career and saw a seven-minute per game reduction from last season. In addition, Arthur hardly ever saw meaningful minutes and was often relegated to playing in garbage time. This was, of course, difficult to see given Arthur is in the prime of his career and has always been one of the Nuggets’ best defenders on a team lacking in that department.
T.J.: Arthur only being able to play half of the season immediately drops his grade but when he was on the court he brought a skill set that is valuable in this day and age of NBA basketball. He was a lights out shooter from beyond the arc this season shooting 45.3 percent and was able to defend down low and on the perimeter. Arthur is arguably the Nuggets best pick-and-roll defender and, when healthy, brings another dynamic player on both ends of the court.
What aspect of Arthur’s game did he improve on most this season?
Harrison: 3-point shooting. Arthur led the Nuggets’ in 3-point percentage and shot and made a ton of open threes throughout the year. But, Arthur was awful from mid-range. He shot just 38.2 percent from that distance per NBA.com.
Joel: 3-point shooting. Despite injuries and playing time woes, Arthur was able to make a marked improvement in his 3-point game, increasing his percentage to .453 from .385 the previous season (and .236 the season before that), all while nearly doubling his attempts from 1.7 to 2.9 per game. If he can find his way to better health, Darrell’s perimeter shooting leap bodes well for his future as a floor-spacing big.
Kalen: Just being a good team sport. Arthur could have taken the same road as Jusuf Nurkic or Wilson Chandler and gone vocal about his discontent. Instead, he accepted his diminished role and was one of the Nuggets’ most enthusiastic cheerleaders all year long. That really should not be overlooked.
T.J.: 3-point shooting. Like Will Barton, Arthur’s three-point shooting percentage rose almost every year he has been with the Nuggets. It was Brian Shaw that pushed Arthur to begin incorporating the three-point shot into his game and it was one of the few solid decisions Shaw made while in Denver. Arthur went from shooting 23.6 percent from deep in 2014-15 to shooting a scalding 45.3 percent from beyond the arc on 117 attempts this season. While Arthur’s knees make it difficult to play him for long stretches he looked comfortable in the role of part-time three-point sniper off of Denver’s bench.
What does Arthur need to work on this upcoming offseason?
Harrison: Arthur had his knee scoped a few weeks before training camp and was behind the eight ball right off the bat. This offseason, Arthur should take it easy, let his knee get healthy and come into camp completely healthy.
Joel: The most important thing Arthur can do this summer is to fully rehabilitate his knee and get as healthy as possible before next season. Beyond that, whatever he did last year to improve his outside shooting should be continued.
Kalen: Convincing head coach Michael Malone the Nuggets are better with him on the floor than off it. Again, Malone openly begged about bringing more defensive-minded players to Denver at season’s end yet didn’t play the ones he already had. The Nuggets have always been better with Arthur and given his expanded 3-point range he seems like a perfect fit playing alongside Nikola Jokic.
T.J.: Getting healthy. Arthur will always struggle with playing extended minutes and on back to backs but if he can find a way to contribute 15-25 minutes a night he could be a huge boost for Denver on both ends of the court. His 3-point shooting mixed with high-IQ defense would allow Denver a myriad of new possibilities on both offense and defense.