Denver Nuggets 2018-19 season review: Juancho Hernangómez
70 games, 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, 36.5 percent from three
There were two very distinct halves of the season for Juancho Hernangómez, who enjoyed the most successful campaign of his career while in a larger role for the Denver Nuggets.
In Denver’s 54 games before the All-Star break, Hernangómez played 22.5 minutes per game and was effective in a supporting role. The 23-year-old forward started 25 contests during that span and averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds on 46 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc.
However, as the Nuggets got healthy, rebounding from some early and mid-season injuries, Hernangómez struggled to receive consistent playing time. A reduced role, coupled with a core injury may have led to his difficulties during the second half of the season.
When his number was called on, the third-year forward certainly stepped up this past season. In those 25 starts, Hernangómez averaged 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while he connected on 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers. Not only did Hernangómez step up his production in a larger role, he improved his efficiency in the process. As a starter, the Spaniard had a 64.3 true shooting percentage (which measures shooting efficiency while taking into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws).
Hernangómez provided Denver with another capable off-ball player that can hit open 3-pointers or cut to the rim, all while providing a big body on the defensive end and on the boards.
The 2018-19 season wasn’t short on highlights for Hernangómez, especially in the first half of the season. Hernangómez had the game-saving block against the Golden State Warriors in the third game of the season, which set the tone early in the year for Denver. A few weeks later, Hernangómez put JaVale McGee on a poster during a blowout Nuggets win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hernangómez doesn’t just make his mark when on the court. Over the course of the season, the former first-round pick stood out as a valued teammate off the court.
“Juancho, [he’s] an unbelievable teammate. Just an unbelievable teammate,” Nuggets forward Paul Millsap said with a smile after Denver’s Game 5 victory over Portland. “We were so happy for him, excited for him. He always the guy that’s motivating everybody – especially me. He pushes me a lot and I love him. I love his energy and love everything that he brings to the table.”
Hernangómez was able to accept his role throughout the season, even though it fluctuated. His ability to step up when his team needed him while also simultaneously understanding the reasoning behind his inconsistent playing time made him a valuable member of the 2018-19 Nuggets squad both on-and-off the court.