Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap excited about JaMychal Green’s rugged game
There has been a lot of discussion about the coming and goings on the Nuggets roster in what has been the shortest offseason in NBA history. While there has been plenty of external attention on Jerami Grant’s departure and the arrival of Facundo Campazzo, one signing that has generated a lot of excitement inside the Nuggets’ locker room is JaMychal Green.
“JaMychal is going to be a great fit for us,” Nikola Jokić said in his Thursday media availability. “I like him. JaMychal is kind of a dog and we need that kind of player.”
The Nuggets exceeded all expectations by reaching the Western Conference Finals during the 2020 playoffs. The rise of Jamal Murray and the continued postseason brilliance of Jokić drew rave reviews as did the team’s depth. If there was one area where the team was consistently tested and challenged on, it was its toughness.
READ MORE: What Green brings to the Nuggets
Between Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr.’s antics in the conference semifinals, which was arguably the catalyst for an impressive 3-1 series turnaround, and the physical nature of the series against the Lakers, the need to add some grit became an offseason priority. Denver hopes Green, an eight-year veteran who has had to fight to stay in the league after being undrafted in 2012, can deliver in that regard.
“I’m just glad he’s on our team. He’s one of those power forwards you hate to go up against,” Paul Millsap, who also plays the position, said. “He’s a guy I’ve battled against for many years. He’s always had an attitude to be relentless and to win.”
Green joins the Nuggets after two seasons with the Clippers. His career averages of 8.1 points and 6.1 boards per game might not jump off the page, but it’s his intangibles and all-around versatility that kept him on the Nuggets radar over the past few seasons. He’s been a valued member of five playoff squads with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Clippers. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s been an effective three-pointer shooter. During his time in L.A., the University of Alabama product shot 39.4 percent from downtown while taking 3.2 attempts per game.
“A guy like JaMychal Green, who we have looked at in the past, decided to come and be a Denver Nugget,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We are thrilled about that.”
According to reports, the Nuggets attempted to sign Green last season only to see the forward return to Clippers. After a hard-fought series between the two teams in this postseason, the Nuggets’ victory left a lasting impression on the veteran forward.
“Blowing a 3-1 lead, they just fought,” Green said. “It just showed you the type of heart they [the Nuggets] had.”
Grant’s exit to become a Detroit Piston created a void that will be difficult for the Nuggets to fill. The forward’s size, length and speed made him invaluable, creating unique defensive switches on each possession. Green isn’t a like-for-like replacement, but he offers some advantages in comparison to his predecessor. He is more of a traditional power forward that’s capable of defending positions three through five. He’s also a significantly better rebounder than Grant. Last season, Green had a total rebound percentage of 15.4 percent vs. Grant’s 7.3 percent – despite playing six less minutes per game.
“JaMychal is a tough guy. I remember we were playing against the Clippers, even on box outs, he was just being really physical,” Jamal Murray said Thursday. “He kind of changed the way we had to guard [the Clippers] a little bit as he was making shots [from long range]. So, I think he will be big for us.”
Millsap added, “He’s been in winning situations and he knows how to win. He brings that every single day.”