Denver Nuggets: Why wasn’t Davon Reed picked up for the NBA playoffs?

Davon Reed #9 of the Denver Nuggets looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter at Ball Arena on 5 Apr. 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Davon Reed #9 of the Denver Nuggets looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter at Ball Arena on 5 Apr. 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /

Davon Reed is a name that no Denver Nuggets fan was thinking about going into the 2021-22 season, as the 6’5″ forward hadn’t played at the NBA level since the 2018-19 season.

Fast forward to now, Reed has shown himself as arguably the most important perimeter defender for the Nuggets (alongside Austin Rivers), showing huge impact in certain matchups throughout his four months in Denver.

But the Nuggets faced a key roster decision this week and decided to go without Davon Reed for the playoffs. How will it impact the team?

Davon Reed was playing for the Grand Rapids Gold, the Nuggets’ G League team, early in the season before being signed to the first of three eventual 10-day contracts on 4 Dec. 2021. With injuries and positive COVID tests mounting up for the Nuggets (and the rest of the league), Reed found an opportunity to see playing time, even finding himself starting five games throughout the year.

On 9 Jan. 2022, Reed was officially signed to a two-way contract for the rest of the season and has played sparingly since. On the season, he’s averaging 4.1 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line on only 1.8 attempts a night.

He’s not an elite scorer but he brings a defensive toughness on the wing that Denver missed after losing P.J. Dozier for the season.

Despite the lack of game time, Davon was able to flash his brilliance on the defensive end, shown in a clip that went viral of Reed guarding LeBron James. Denver has struggled to lock up key perimeter threats, especially when there are multiple to defend.

Aaron Gordon has shown an ability to consistently guard the opposing team’s best player, but if the Denver Nuggets face a high-octane guard duo such as the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie or the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they have some issues.

Denver had a chance to take a step toward fixing this problem on Thursday, as it was the deadline to sign two-way players like Reed to a full contract in order to make them eligible for the playoffs. To do this, the Denver Nuggets would’ve had to release a player in order to open the spot for that full contract. The obvious candidate was Facundo Campazzo, who has very minimal playing time since rookie Bones Hyland was moved into the backup point-guard position.

Many of the bench struggles were alleviated when Campazzo was moved out of consistent playing time, and some Nuggets fans saw a clear opportunity to improve by cutting ties and signing Reed.

Campazzo also likely won’t be playing in the playoffs, Monte Morris and Bones will share the 48 minutes at the position and Reed could, at least, check in for spot minutes to lock down a perimeter scorer.

The argument against making this move is, as Nuggets fans know all too well, injuries happen. If one of Monte or Hyland goes down or get in foul trouble, Denver wouldn’t have any viable backup options at a crucial position.

It was the depth Denver acquired before the playoffs last year, including Campazzo himself, that allowed them to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, and leaving themselves with no security blanket could be costly.

Davon Reed, however, has played a crucial role for Denver’s bench, and a role that can really only be filled by one other player on the entire roster, Austin Rivers. Rivers will hold a lot of responsibility in the playoffs with his ability to play defense, and some of this pressure could have been taken off by converting Davon Reed for the playoffs.

Denver may have been better served to open up a spot so Davon Reed could play in the upcoming playoffs, but the deadline has passed and they are locked into the roster they have now. They may be in trouble without his defensive ability, but they decided to play it safe and make sure they have the depth in case of disaster.

Only time will tell if Reed’s absence affects the Nuggets as the playoffs begin.

Next. Recapping the 2021-22 season. dark