2017-18 Nuggets Player Breakdown: Juancho Hernangomez
In the end, Juancho Hernangomez simply had to endure.
The second-year forward had high hopes coming into 2017-18, coming off of a promising rookie season. Now, Hernangomez has to take those high hopes with him again into this summer as he gets set for his third season with the Nuggets, with the full backing of the organization that drafted him in 2016.
“Juancho, it was a fluke season,” Nuggets president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly said. “He had mono. We just thought he was tired for a long time. He was such a tough kid he wouldn’t speak up. Had a fantastic summer last summer with the Spanish national team.”
A bout with mononucleosis blunted Hernangomez’s season before it really got started. He played in parts of two games before missing three weeks to rest and recover. And he essentially spent the rest of the season working hard to get his legs back and get back into the regular rotation.
To that end, Hernangomez did make a couple of appearances late in the season, and responded with seven points and four rebounds in 18 minutes of a Nuggets’ win over the L.A. Lakers on March 9. He played 20 minutes, making two 3-pointers in a critical Nuggets’ win over Milwaukee on April 1.
Each of those games illuminated what the Nuggets love in him – and what he was able to put on display in bunches during his rookie season.
First, an ability to be an effective ‘Stretch 4,’ causing matchup issues with his ability to hit long range shots from the power forward spot. Second, a motor that runs high. At his best, Hernangomez runs the court well, and runs all the time, making him a tough cover in the open court.
“We’re just as high on Juancho as we were last year,” Connelly said. “I think he has the chance to be a hugely impactful player.”
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter