I’m a firm believer that history repeats itself in the NBA (or any major sports league for that matter). So, our first X-factor candidate is a player who’s currently on the roster, is established within the rotation and could easily provide the spark Denver needs in 2023. Much like what long-time Lakers KCP and Caruso did for LA in 2020.
Enter Bones Hyland.
Obviously, Hyland is still a raw talent and by no means a polished player. He struggles with turnovers, and he’s far from a consistent shooter or a reliable defender. With that being said, he also has more upside than any player on the Denver Nuggets roster.
As the 26th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, not much was expected of Bones this season. Yet, he quickly evolved from a loveable personality into an absolute menace on the court. Jumping from just over 10 minutes per game, to nearly 20 by the start of the new year. Cementing himself as the team’s backup point guard and their most reliable scorer off the bench all season.
It also doesn’t hurt that he played at his best towards the end of the regular season, kicking things into high gear when the games mattered the most. By March, he was up to nearly 22 minutes per game, setting season-highs in points (14.3), assists (4.3) and steals per game (0.9).
Then in the playoffs, he continued to exhibit his infinite range and dangerous scoring ability. Highlighted by his performance in Game 4 of Denver’s first round series against the Golden State Warriors. In which he tallied together 15 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds, shooting 5-10 from the field and 3-6 from the three-point line. Finishing tied for the game-high plus/minus at +13.
By the end of the regular season, Hyland was averaging 10.1 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game with .403/.366/.856 shooting splits. All of which was enough for him to be named to the All-Rookie second team.
As a player with a deadly perimeter game and the potential to score off the dribble at an efficient rate. The sky’s the limit for what Bones Hyland can become for the Denver Nuggets. He could even sneak into the starting lineup next year alongside Jokic, Murray, Gordon and Porter Jr.
Will Barton and Monte Morris’s future with the Nuggets remains in question, but even if they are on the team next season. Neither one can provide the offensive spark this team needs to compete for an NBA championship. Not only has Hyland already proven his ability to torch opposing defenses, but he’s going to be even better by this time next year.
Above all else, he’s the ideal complementary piece to pair up with Jokic. When the big man starts to heat up and attract double teams, he’s going to be looking for somebody to kick the ball out to on the perimeter. Bones can be this consistent deep threat the Nuggets need to help them make that push for an NBA title in 2023.