Denver Nuggets: ‘Bones and Boogie’ is a bench duo to fear

Denver Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins (4) speaks with guard Bones Hyland (3) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on 16 Mar. 2022. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Denver Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins (4) speaks with guard Bones Hyland (3) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on 16 Mar. 2022. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Denver Nuggets lost Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors but despite the plethora of injuries, the Nuggets fought for 48 minutes. Bones Hyland and DeMarcus Cousins were essential off the bench and this series should solidify a bench duo for years to come.

Since taking over Facundo Campazzo’s role in Michael Malone‘s rotation, Bones has provided a scoring punch off the bench. Combined with Boogie’s veteran game and solid inside defense, the two can feast on opposing bench units whenever the check in.

In Game 5, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the team made a concerted effort to slow down the two:

"“Yeah, we wanted [Gary Payton II] on Hyland.“The Hyland-DeMarcus pick-and-roll was really our big concern coming into tonight. So we wanted Gary out there on Hyland. He did a great job on him. Also did a helluva job on (Monte) Morris when Morris was out there.”"

GPII is the Warriors’ go-to option on perimeter scorers and he started in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Ja Morant. That’s the kind of urgency the Warriors had to try and slow down Bones and Boogie.

If the Denver Nuggets can win the minutes when Nikola Jokic sits, they’ll win a lot more games. Even when Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray come back next season, having a bench duo that can score with the best of them is invaluable.

In the regular season, the most potent five-man combination featuring the two was the pair surrounded by Bryn Forbes, Jeff Green, and Austin Rivers. In over 112 regular season minutes, that lineup outscored opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions according to basketball-reference. That lineup drilled 3-pointers at a 43.5 percent clip using Cleaning the Glass‘ data.

Malone can call for pick-and-rolls between the two with shooters all around and run out some efficient offense.

What role will Bones Hyland and DeMarcus Cousins play next season for the Denver Nuggets?

Without Murray and Porter Jr., there are plenty of shots to go around on this Nuggets roster. Bones was sixth on this team in points per game and simply adding in the two injured stars will push him down the pecking order.

Adding to that, Jamal’s return will likely push Monte Morris back to his natural position as a backup point guard, that’ll also eat away at Bones’ minutes.

The good news for the guard out of VCU is that his shooting game works both off the catch and off the dribble.

Next season, we’ll likely see him coming off the bench to first share the court with one or more of Denver’s stars. He’d assume the role as a floor spacer around a Jokic-Murray pick-and-roll but when one of them sits, he’d do more with the ball in his hands.

In the spare minutes that Nikola sits, Malone would almost definitely be inserting Boogie and for those few possessions, the Boogie-Bones combo is back on.

The only thing to mention is that DeMarcus is a free agent this offseason and will have to be re-signed. Given how he came to Colorado in the first place, it should only take a veteran’s minimum to re-sign Cousins.

Even if Tim Connelly wants to make some moves this offseason, they’ll have the roster spots of Campazzo and Vlatko Cancar likely opening up for free agents or trades.

One of the silver linings for this gap year in the rise of the Denver Nuggets is that they can take stock of everything on this roster. Some players who might not have been able to play serious minutes were thrust into bigger roles. With those roles, the Nuggets might have found their bench combo for the future.

Next. What to root for now that the Denver Nuggets are eliminated. dark