Was trading Bones Hyland a mistake for the Denver Nuggets?

Bones Hyland of the Denver Nuggets in action during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Bones Hyland of the Denver Nuggets in action during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

In the 2021 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets decided to take a guard out of VCU in Na’Shon “Bones” Hyland. Bones came into the draft as a solid combo guard, playing both the point guard and shooting guard positions really well. There weren’t a lot of expectations for him when it came to his rookie season.

However, with Jamal Murray out with an injury for a lot of the year, it left a lot of opportunity for Hyland to get a lot of minutes and take many shots. He made the All-Rookie Second Team, which was great considering he was the 26th overall pick.

Last season, with Jamal Murray back, as well as adding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the backcourt in the offseason, it seemed likely Hyland would not get as many minutes. The team was looking to win an NBA Championship, and they needed all hands on deck to win.

Midway through last season, the Denver Nuggets looked like a tough team to face in the playoffs. Hyland was averaging better numbers, but he was more inefficient. He shot 39.9 percent from the field but a solid 37.8 percent from distance. The low field goal percentage was a real hindrance to his game, as well as the team.

His role was fluctuating, and it seemed more and more likely that he’d be traded come the trade deadline. Eventually, he was traded to the LA Clippers for two second-round picks, which was a low return considering his age and production.

The Denver Nuggets eventually wound up winning the NBA Championship. As it would seem, trading Hyland was a good move for the team, as the allocated minutes were eventually given to players like Bruce Brown and Christian Braun off the bench. His defensive limitations were also a reason he was ultimately traded.

Was it worth trading Bones Hyland away?

Bones Hyland was a great player for the Nuggets. There’s no denying that. Yes, he was a bit inefficient, but with time, he’d probably become more efficient and get a better shot selection.

Let’s take a look at another young guard on another team. Orlando Magic’s Cole Anthony struggled with efficiency, shooting 39.7 percent and 39.1 percent from the field in his rookie and sophomore years, respectively. He eventually progressed and shot a respectable 45.4 percent from the field last season. His shot selection was a lot better, and both he and Orlando progressed overall.

Looking at the Denver Nuggets’ team as of now, both Bruce Brown and Jeff Green left in free agency. During the regular season and playoffs, Brown played a lot of minutes as the primary ball-handler, as he averaged 3.4 assists per game.

Denvers’ backup point guard is between Reggie Jackson and second-round pick Jalen Pickett out of Penn State. The backup shooting guard is just Christian Braun at this point, and there’s not much else to the bench in general.

Speaking of backups, Denver is generally lacking in self-creation. No one on the bench will be tasked to make shots for themselves a lot, and that can go to a bit of the starting lineup, too. Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Nikola Jokić are the only players on the current roster who can make their own shots and do it often.

Hyland was great at creating his own shot, but now that he’s in Los Angeles, Denver won’t be able to have him do that for their team. He may not have been super efficient, but he was still able to hit 3-pointers at a good clip, as well as relieving Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray of their scoring and playmaking duties from time to time.

Bones Hyland was a great player for the Nuggets, but he did not fit what Denver was trying to do. Maybe Denver wouldn’t have won a title if he was still on the team, but it’s hard to say. However, seeing how different the Nuggets will be with a full season without Bones Hyland will be interesting.