The Hidden Impact of Darrell Arthur

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

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.

Arthur Pop vs. Jazz


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.

Arthur off ball

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.

Faried cramping spacing


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 media central and are accurate as of Friday the 22nd (after the Bulls game). 

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  • Charliemyboy

    How can he be used more? This is significant. Can he start? What team should finish?

    • MattRMC

      I think it is a game by game type of thing. I would give him more minutes on the nights where the jumper is falling or the opposing power forward is a guy that can stretch the floor on offense, like Love/Dirk/Ibaka. Those guys always seem to give Faried problems on defense (or at least end up with a lot of open looks) and Love and Ibaka on the glass. In those situations if Arthur is playing well I would ride him a bit more.

  • Josh G

    Arthur has been a pleasant surprise and I agree that he is playing well but playing him more minutes is not very easy. He has recently been averaging around 15-18 min a game and that’s all I see him getting with this roster. Given the fact that him and Faried are strictly 4s, there is no other way to get him minutes unless you’re willing to drop Faried to under 30 min a game. Once McGee is back and Hickson goes back to eating up minutes at the 4, we may not see him at all unless a trade is done

    • MattRMC

      I would honestly shift about two or three of Faried’s minutes at least to Arthur to start with. For all the good energy plays Faried makes his defense is an absolute disaster and his defensive rebounding has been suspect at points (his defensive rebounding rate is actually at a career low). I would probably even try playing with Arthur and Faried together, with Faried basically being the center on offense making baseline cuts and the like for dunks and Arthur the center on defense where he will be undersized but stands a better shot of competing.

      As much as I like Faried we aren’t talking about Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Love. Faried is very limited and it poses problems on both ends of the floor that Arthur fixes a bit. Really it probably is something that needs to be handled on a game to game basis depending on how the other team is doing containing those Faried energy plays.

  • Charliemyboy

    I have trouble evaluating Faried based on limitations. He is a difference maker in a game and can completely dominate. He is fearless and an inspiration. No other player including JJ has near his tenacity. He goes after balls while the rest of the team watches. Pundits adore him and I hope he learns and gets recognized for how special he is. Put Arthur at small forward?

    • ryanvdonk

      anyone else notice JJ is actually starting to pick-up the schemes on defense? he still gets lazy on rotations, but that’s happening less, his hedges are improving, and he’s missing less block outs. he looked so lost the first 5 games, so any progress is something moving forward.

      • Charliemyboy

        Now I’m almost ready to eat crow. JJ as pretty total. Shaw did some brilliant coaching. They beat a team that had not lost at home in 7 games on their own floor! The team seems to be finding confidence and an identity. This may not be such a bad year. Let’s see… I may have to eat crow.