Through the first 11 games of the Nuggets season the impact that each newcomer has brought has started to become very clear.
JJ Hickson stinks at defense but has done a good job on the glass and thrown down a few poster dunks. Nate Robinson shoots a lot, at times shooting Denver back into games and at time shooting them right out. Randy Foye shoots and makes threes and doesn’t do a ton else, either good or bad.
And Darrell Arthur plays good pick-and-roll defense, and compared to the rest of the power forwards on the Nuggets roster, really good defense in general.
So far this season the Nuggets defense is 6.8 points per 100 possessions better with Arthur on the floor, as they give up just 102.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor compared to 109.3 with him on the bench according to 82games.com
As most of us at RMC have said before, the difference comes from Arthur having a clue on that end of the floor, being in the right spot (most of the time) and having the ability to hedge and recover quickly and properly as David talked about in his pick-and-roll defense piece.
What the defensive part of things tends to overshadow though is the impact Arthur can have on an offense. So far the numbers on that end don’t look good, as Arthur is part of a bench unit who all have negative on/off court offensive numbers as the Nuggets offense goes in the tank whenever Ty Lawson sits.
Take Arthur and combine him with Lawson though and you see just the type of impact he can have thanks to a mid-range game that demands respect from opponents.
What that shooting ability does is clear the lane out for Lawson and it has shown in his numbers, albeit in a small sample.
In the 313 minutes Lawson has been on the floor 32.6 percent of his shot attempts have come in the restricted area, 8.9 percent in the non-restricted area paint, 31.9 percent from mid-range, 3.7 percent from the corner three, and 23.0 percent from above the break.
But put Darrell on the floor and the percent of shots in the restricted area jumps up to 41.5 percent and the shots in the paint to 9.8 percent. The mid-range shots stay about the same at 31.7 percent and the corner threes have disappeared so far, with the above the break threes dropping to just 17.1 percent of the shots Lawson has attempted.
The shot attempts aren’t the only change as with the space Arthur provides Lawson has jumped his finishing in the restricted area from 54.5 percent without Arthur to 58.8 with him.
The numbers paint a similar picture with Andre Miller, who has played just one less minute with Arthur on the bench as he has with Arthur on the floor.
For Miller the restricted area isn’t the biggest difference (33.3 percent of his shots come from there with Arthur on the floor while 35.9 come from there with him on the bench) but in the paint. With Arthur on the floor 42.9 percent of Miller’s shots come from the non-restricted area paint, as opposed to 30.8 percent of them from the same area when Arthur is on the bench.
Take into account that Miller finishes from both of those two areas with Arthur on the floor (71.4 percent to 42.9 percent from the restricted area and 66.7 to 33.3 percent from the paint) and there seems to be something up, despite the small sample size.
That something seems to be the room he clears out in the paint thanks to the space his jumper provides. A few pictures to demonstrate the point.
First two of Arthur.
While part of this play is the Jazz defense being bad it is a good example of what Arthur brings as a screener for Lawson. After he set the screen he popped causing Derrick Favors to not be able to lay back as aggressively. In fact Favors is point at Arthur in this picture to try and communicate with teammates as to who will pick him up. Meanwhile Lawson is attacking all that open space behind the Jazz big man for a finish.
The value of Arthur is not limited to just when he is directly involved in the play either. Here Pau Gasol hangs just a bit too long on Arthur allowing Ty Lawson a free lane to explode to the basket once he gets off the Mozgov screen. The fact that bigs have to respect Arthur’s range, even if he may be a bit cold to start the season, just provides so much room for Ty Lawson.
For comparisons sake the last picture is what tends to happen without Arthur on the floor, which typically means Kenneth Faried is.
Here Lawson started attacking his man off the dribble and as he did so Faried ducked right into the middle of the lane, eliminating most of the areas Lawson could have continued his drive too. Too often this year Faried has done this as he tries to get more comfortable in the offense and it allows opposing bigs to attack Lawson as he gets airborne and make his shots more difficult. In fact on this shot Terrence Jones, the guy behind Faried, was able to block Lawson’s shot and start a Houston fast break.
This post isn’t meant to be one saying that Arthur should be starting over Faried in any way, as the numbers could very much be a product of just small sample sizes. But I do think that Arthur deserves around 20 minutes or so a game and more minutes on the floor with Lawson.
After all his impact with an offense that has so far his year been extremely reliant on point guard play, helping those point guards out a bit can’t hurt.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com media central and are accurate as of Friday the 22nd (after the Bulls game).