Arthur embraces new opportunity with Denver Nuggets

Veteran power forward brings extensive track record of success
by Aaron Lopez

It’s not often that a player helps his team set a franchise record for victories in a season before joining a team that just set its own record for victories in a season, but that’s what happened to Darrell Arthur.

Arthur was driving in his car on draft night when he received an unexpected phone call. One month after being eliminated from the Western Conference finals, the Memphis Grizzlies were trading him to the Denver Nuggets.

Considering the Nuggets won a team-record 57 games and finished third in the West in 2012-13, Arthur saw it as an opportunity to continue the success he enjoyed in Memphis.

“I feel like we have a lot of guys who know how to win games,” he said after a workout on the Nuggets practice court this week. “I’m just trying to add in what I know. I’ve been to the Western Conference finals and to the playoffs numerous times. I just want to bring my knowledge and help this ballclub win games.”

Arthur, a 6-foot-9 forward, is a proven winner. He helped the University of Kansas capture the NCAA title in 2008 and played 20 minutes a game for the Grizzlies when they won their first-ever playoff series in 2011.

He can run the floor and is an excellent mid-range shooter, but he takes particular pride his defensive ability.

“If your offense can’t get going, there’s never an excuse for your defense to be off,” he said. “I just want to come in and be a spark plug at any position they put me in and any role they put me in. If our first unit isn’t doing well and I’m coming off the bench, I want to be the guy to uplift the team and make plays defensively.”

Arthur, 25, is one of several forwards who will be competing for minutes once training camp opens in the fall. That’s why he felt it was important to report to Denver in early August to get adapted to his new surroundings.

“It’s a tough transition because of the altitude,” he said. “It’s kicking my butt. But I’m going to stay here until I get acclimated.”

Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt believes it will be a smooth transition; he loves Arthur’s ability to guard multiple positions in the post and knock down the pick-and-pop jumper.

“He’s more skilled than people think he is,” Hunt said. “He’s going to fit in very well with what Coach (Brian Shaw) wants him to do. He’s a skill guy that plays hard. A lot of times, skill guys don’t have that combination. Either they’re really skilled and they don’t play hard or they play hard, but they’re not really skilled. He’s got both. I think people are going to be really surprised with what he can do.”

Arthur has proven his worth since the Grizzlies drafted him 27th overall in 2008. Now, he wants to prove that he can stay healthy. He was limited to 32 games in 2009-10 because of a shoulder injury, and he missed the 2011-12 season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon.

“They were freak accidents. One happened in the weight room bench pressing and the other one happened practicing,” Arthur said. “I just have to play. I can’t really dwell on it. I know how my body feels. It feels great right now. I came in early and I’ve been getting some good work in with our trainers. I feel good.”

Given Arthur’s talent, work ethic and history of success, Nuggets fans should feel pretty good, too.

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