But this time it was different, Bones did it on a nationally-televised game and he hit some of the biggest shots of the night.
That hot hand was the 21-year-old Bones Hyland who was not only playing in front of a raging Philadelphia crowd, but in front of around 700 close friends and family as the Wilmington, Delaware native returned home.
Bones comes in now and knows exactly what he has to do: he’s putting up shots. Against the 76ers, he scored 21 points while hitting 7-14 of his shots and 4-9 of his takes from the 3-point line.
After receiving his career-first (of many) “bang” from Mike Breen, Bones decided to take a bit of a heat check 3-pointer in transition and it forced the Sixers to call a timeout:
But one of the downsides of being the spark plug, scoring injection off the bench is that Bones has to be the one to take the dead ball shots on this second unit. It’s hurting his efficiency slightly but there are also some shots that will fall when he gets older, stronger, smarter, and faster.
Watch in the clip below as he snakes around a Boogie screen (it must be so fun to have such an elite screen setter most of the time) before getting all the way to the basket:
The shot is awkward at best but after catching Tyrese Maxey off balance, he’s able to find his way to the rim and he drew enough attention to get an offensive board for his teammate. Maxey isn’t jumping out hard to Bones at the 3-point line if he isn’t knocking down 37 percent of his takes (56 percent in March).
This surge by Bones is extremely promising for the future as he’s a perfect bench scorer. I don’t want to get caught up in hyperbole as the guard has only played 56 games in his career but is there a reason he’s not the next Lou Williams/Jamal Crawford type for this Denver team?
For the next few seasons, as the Denver Nuggets look to compete for titles, Bones will likely be kept on the bench with a fully healthy Jamal Murray as the scorer for the starting lineup. Could he carve himself a sweet role behind the Blue Arrow?
Bones has the ability to find his own shot whenever he wants it, he has the handle to stay alive for as long as he wants, and he’s clearly fearless when it comes to getting his shot off.
Mike Singer, The Denver Post reported after the Philly win that it was actually Bones who kept the team calm despite the early deficit. He even went up to Jokic to settle him down after struggling in the first quarter.
Bones Hyland is here, his confidence is spreading, and the Denver Nuggets need it.
Denver Nuggets: What role will Bones Hyland play in the playoffs?
The chance that Jamal Murray will return this season has been downgraded to 50-50 according to Singer, The Denver Post so instead of hoping for a quick return and playoff push, the Nuggets might already have their final roster in front of them.
Malone likes to tighten things up in the playoffs, leaning on his starters a lot more than in the regular season. We might not see as many stretches with full bench units (if at all) but Bones might have earned himself a spot as a guard off the bench.
Bryn Forbes will definitely be playing as his chemistry with Jokic is sweeter than a Shakespear novel so the second guard spot will come down to Austin Rivers or Bones.
When I compared Hyland to Lou Will and Crawford, I forgot to mention that one of his strengths is how malleable he is on the offensive end. Those two other microwave scorers were great when they had the keys but struggle to work it when fitting into a bigger scheme.
What makes Bones awesome is that he’s more than happy sitting in the corner or running off screens for catch-and-shoot opportunities. This will work well in the playoffs when Jokic is playing 40-plus minutes a night and the opportunities for Bones to create for himself will be scarce.
If I were the coach, I’d have Bones be the second guard off the bench, resting Monte Morris when he sits. If I had to guess what Malone actually does, I’d say he goes with the veteran presence in Austin Powers. Fingers crossed I’m wrong because what we’re seeing Bones do is way more important than making some rookie mistakes in the postseason.