4. Bones Hyland
The Nuggets would prefer to head into the postseason with Jamaal Murray owning the majority of their point guard minutes, but injury is going to keep him out of the mix all together in the playoffs. That heaps pressure on the combination of Monte Morris and Bones Hyland to get things done for Denver.
Morris was the more efficient offensive player in the regular season, but his lack of size can really limit his defensive effectiveness in the playoffs. It’s easy to envision scenarios where head coach Mike Malone is forced to go with Hyland down the stretch as the bigger player of the pair.
If Hyland is on the floor down the stretch he’ll need to make shots from the perimeter to keep the floor stretched for Nikola Jokic and the rest of the team’s starting group. Jokic is going to get his shots no matter what the defense throws at him, but he’s also one of the best passing big men in NBA history. That means Hyland could find himself wide open with big three-pointers to can for his team.
Unheralded rookies don’t often make big impacts in the postseason but Hyland has a chance to buck that trend. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with more minutes than Morris due to his advantage in terms of physicality.