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NBA Denver Nuggets J.J. Hickson

Would Nuggets J.J. Hickson Give The Raptors A Boost At Power Forward?

It’s the post NBA trade deadline clean out the back of your roster season and there are teams with players that just don’t fit looking to create space to try out guys that might. The Denver Nuggets tried to trade Hickson, but failing that, they’ve waived him and teams, like the Toronto Raptors, looking for a cheap boost at power forward are likely taking a hard look.

This isn’t a slam dunk for a team that would have to waive a player to sign Hickson. For all the things he does well, like running the floor, playing in the post and rebounding at a superior rate, he has his flaws. Of course if he didn’t have his flaws, he’d be starting on the Nuggets instead of being set free.

Today’s Fastbreak summed things up nicely prior to the start of the season,

Let me tell you, it’s a wild ride. One minute, he’s snatching offensive and defensive rebounds with the ferocity of a crazed bull, the next, well, I guess he’s kind of doing that same thing. Turns out Hickson is pretty one-dimensional.

Hickson is a tad porous on the defensive side of the ball

He’s really not very good in some fairly impactful ways. Very often, he sacrifices good off-the-ball defense for better rebounding positioning.

He plays a tough brand of basketball, he’s physical and for the most part hustles. Even if that hustle tends to show up more on the offensive end, he’s good for a rebound every three minutes he’s in the game and he gets out and runs on the break.

Hickson had a $5.6 million expiring salary, but even that wasn’t cheap enough for the Nuggets to be able to dump him off on another team at the trade deadline. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone obviously didn’t value what the 27-year-old big man could do either as Hickson had only played in 20 games this season after being a starter and leading rebounder in Denver just two years ago.

Hickson getting bumped out of the rotation by a crop of promising young big men on a team that isn’t going anywhere soon isn’t much of a surprise, but for a playoff bound team looking for a third string big man who can provide some toughness and rebounding to cover off some minutes due to foul trouble or minor injuries – Hickson looks like cheap insurance.

This isn’t going to be an easy call for teams that will have to waive a player to make room for a third stringer who might not even play, but in Toronto where the contributions from backups Lucas Nogueira and Anthony Bennett leave coaches and fans holding their collective breath, bringing in even a limited veteran like Hickson suddenly doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.