The big question with Darrell Arthur is whether he is healthy. How much of his career lows across the board last season was due to his continuing knee issues and how much was due simply to Denver’s surplus of 4’s is the issue.
The 30-year-old with 10 years NBA experience played a total of 19 games last season and only 60 the last two years. His left knee — and that surplus — kept him on the bench and out of the rotation for almost the entire season. As a result, Arthur averaged only 2.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in a mere 7.4 rebounds.
He wasn’t recovering from surgery, but his knee pain was so bad he underwent a Regenokine treatment in Germany last summer. That’s the same treatment Kobe Bryant underwent a few years back.
In fact, he hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in a game since March 9, 2017. But despite rumors that he would be bought out after last week’s trade, Arthur is still around, so maybe the Nets new 6’9, 235-pound combo forward will get a chance to rebound, so to speak, with the help of Brooklyn’s performance and medical teams. Unlike Denver, the Nets could use what he brings, a 3-and-D guy off the bench.
Of course, he’s already helped the Nets. They got an unprotected second round pick in 2020 from Denver for taking on his contract. (Denver was offering a first round pick for Kenneth Faried and a second for Arthur to get below the luxury tax threshold. Once the Nets cleared Jeremy Lin’s salary in the trade with the Hawks, the Nets had room for both.)
So let’s assume Arthur is on the roster and payroll at the end of October. What could he bring?
The notion of Arthur being a combo forward would’ve been hilarious 10 years ago. In two seasons with a great Kansas program, including a National Championship in 2008, Arthur shot 2-of-17 from deep, getting picked at No. 27, ending up with the Memphis Grizzles.
In 10 NBA seasons between Memphis and Denver, Arthur’s played a similar style and produced decent numbers until his knee issues essentially shut him down at the end of 2017. As age, injuries and a lot of minutes began to take its toll, Arthur did the smart thing, changing his game. He molded himself into a 3-and-D specialist.
“I would explain it by just giving Darrell all the credit because he’s a guy that takes a lot pride in his craft,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of Arthur back in January 2017, as reported in the Denver Post. “He’s a professional that works extremely hard. People never see the time these players put in — before practice, after practice, whatever it may be. Darrell is a great example of that.
“For every shot he makes in a game, he’s had thousands and thousands of repetitions in practice. And just player development working on his game. As he gets deeper into his career, he’s kind of establishing a niche in terms of being able to really shoot the ball well, and being a very good defensive player.”
For his career, Arthur has always been able to crack rotations off the bench, logging between 15 and 22 minutes per contest. Outside of his rookie campaign where he started all but 12 of his 76 appearances, he hasn’t started more than 16 games in one single NBA go-round.
Arthur’s averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.8 minutes through 503 NBA games, roughly 80% as a reserve. His best effort came in 2010-11, where he posted 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds for Memphis. Per 36, Arthur has been good for a career of 13.2 points and 7.1 boards. But there is virtually no chance he will ever play close to those minutes.
While always being a hustle type, Arthur’s hit his share of mid-range jumpers, and expanded his range in 2012-13 – his first year back from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for all of 2011-12 – to shoot 5-of-18 from deep. He followed by going 24-of-64 in 2013-14, good for 37.5% in his first season as a Nugget.
While his percentage significantly spiraled down to 23.6% in the subsequent year, Arthur’s attempts sat at 110 by season’s end, and he shot 117 threes’ each in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 before sitting most of last year.
In 2015-16, Arthur’s percentage dramatically escalated to 38.5% and he saw another bump a year later, sitting at 45.3% through 41 showings. Arthur’s always been noted for his defense, as his former coach Malone said repeatedly. But again, he didn’t get a chance to prove it much.
As of now, Arthur’s big value to the Nets, other than the second rounder he brought them, is his locker room presence. With the losing a number of veterans — Lin, Timofey Mozgov and Dante Cunningham — Brooklyn could use some grey hairs.
“DA is one of the best guys I have ever come across in all my time in the league,” said Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations last week. “When we traded for him, he and his amazing wife Niecy instantly impacted our community.
“They have done so much to help those in need, and almost all of it was done with no fanfare. As a player his toughness, ability to guard multiple positions and stretch the floor will be sorely missed. As a person it’s hard to quantify what he has meant to our team. Brooklyn is getting one of the league’s true gentlemen.”
Off the field, Arthur is a gamer, so with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen and others, there may be competition in the Net locker room on the sticks.
Otherwise, we will have to wait and see what the Nets plan is for Arthur. Is he just a throw-in, a salary dump for a mid to late second rounder two years from now or can he add to Brooklyn’s competitiveness. We may hear more when Sean Marks speaks with the media at noon Tuesday. As we’ve said throughout the last month, stay tuned.