Denver Nuggets A to Z: Danny Schayes

Cerebral center was a steady starter in the 1980s
by Aaron Lopez

On Feb. 7, 1982, the Denver Nuggets made a midseason trade that looked like a simple swap of skyscrapers.

Seven-foot center Rich Kelley went to to the Utah Jazz, while 6-11 big man Danny Schayes joined the Nuggets.

It proved to be a great deal for Denver.

As part of a month-long tribute to the most memorable and notable players in franchise history, we are taking a look at the Nuggets from A to Z.

S is for Schayes.

The son of Hall of Fame center Dolph Schayes, Danny was 22 years old when he arrived in Denver. Kelley, acquired by the Nuggets from Phoenix less than eight months earlier, was 28.

While Kelley played just three more NBA seasons after the trade, Schayes developed into a reliable rotation player for Nuggets coach Doug Moe. He averaged 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in eight seasons in Denver.

Considered one of the league’s most cerebral players, Schayes used his size and smarts to succeed while playing alongside Nuggets greats such as Alex English, Dan Issel and Fat Lever.

He averaged career-highs of 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds as Denver’s starting center in 1987-88. He also was excellent in the playoffs, averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting .625 from the field as the Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.

Schayes enjoyed two more productive years with the Nuggets before being traded to Milwaukee on Aug. 1, 1990. He went on to play nine more seasons with the Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

Schayes, now 55, stays in tune with the NBA through his writing. He is a regular contributor for

Game to remember, April 15, 1988

Schayes scored 32 points and set a franchise record by making 18 free throws without a miss as the Nuggets beat the Houston Rockets 132-125 at McNichols Arena. Chauncey Billups made a run at Schayes’ mark, going 17-for-17 on March 20, 2010, but the record still stands more than 25 years later.

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