Bones Hyland recent play helps Denver Nuggets dominate the West

Bones Hyland #3 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates his basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter of the game at Target Center (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Bones Hyland #3 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates his basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter of the game at Target Center (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets have gotten a balanced production between the starters and bench over the last few weeks, and Bones Hyland has played a big role in that. Hyland was labeled as the score-first guard who will help the Nuggets’ offense coming off the bench this season.

The first weeks of the 2022-23 season were not kind to the sophomore guard, as he has struggled to remain on the floor in some games. He was a competent offensive presence but he was lacking focus on the defensive end. Michael Malone did not give up on him despite Hyland’s slow start and tried to find the best lineup combination.

Let’s not forget that the Virginia Commonwealth product is a sophomore and he still needs time to realize his potential and improve his game. However, in the last few weeks, things are going well for him and the Denver Nuggets. Denver has won 12 of its last 15 games, and Hyland has been a steady contributor to Michael Malone’s squad.

He’s averaging 13.0 points on 44.2% shooting in a little more than 20 minutes of play. He’s also making his threes on a 38.2% clip in almost six attempts per game. Shooting from deep was never in question for Hyland, who is making almost 42% of his threes through the 2022-23 season.

However, during the last 15 games, the promising guard has been more aggressive getting into the paint having 63 attempts in the restricted and the inside the paint area. He also took a small stride in the assist department registering a 1.74 AST/TO ratio – a slight improvement from his season average of 1.81.

Bones Hyland since the start of 2023

More important than the individual improvement, Hyland has been attributed as a huge part of the wins Denver put together since the start of 2023. Head coach Michael Malone has found the combination that could put Hyland and the Nuggets in the best position to win. During the first six games of the year 2023, the Nuggets went 5-1 and remained at the top of the West.

Hyland has been scorching the opponents’ bench mobs during that time as he puts up 16.2 points on 52/47/83 shooting splits. During the last six games, the Nuggets are outscoring opponents by 7.1 points per 100 possessions registering an offensive rating of almost 121 points when Hyland is on the floor.

The Denver Nuggets are healthy during this part of the season and they are obviously one of the best teams in the NBA. The bench production was a big issue for Michael Malone through the first few months of the season. However, with the Nuggets’ head coach having a fit squad available, he was able to put together several successful combinations on the floor.

Malone slotted Bones Hyland in a five-man lineup that consists of Jamal Murray, Zeke Nnaji, Bruce Brown, and Vlatko Cancar. This five-man combination has seen increased time on the floor in the last five of the team’s six games and has a net rating of plus-8.3 in 34 minutes of play. With Hyland alongside Murray, Denver is only demanding the sophomore guard to do what he does best.

With Murray, Brown, and Bones Hyland splitting the playmaking duties, the young guard can focus on the things that he can do well like shooting and scoring the ball. Hyland was caught doing a little too much as the primary playmaker at the start of the season and that’s the reason Malone opted to move him alongside other players that can create for others.

With that said, his ability to remain productive as the leading scorer coming off the bench will be a challenging process for Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets. Naturally, Hyland is a young player having a crucial role in a contending team. His production and role have been placed ahead of the curve, and that’s something we will have to keep in mind going forward.

In any case, his ability to stay on course and, at the same time, become less of a liability in the defensive end will be the next step for Hyland’s career in Denver.