This past offseason, free agent Paul Millsap signed a two-year, $61 million contract with the Denver Nuggets with a $30 million team option for a potential third season.
Therefore, the four-time All-Star is expected to be one of the centerpieces of the franchise for at least the next couple of years.
Millsap’s first 16 games with the Nuggets have been underwhelming, as he averaged 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 29.7 minutes per contest. While he has played fewer minutes than the 34.0 he averaged last season, he has been trying to fit into coach Mike Malone’s system in Denver.
He did seem to turn the corner recently, as he posted 17.6 points and 5.6 boards in 32.5 minutes per game in five contests between November 7 and November 17.
But, his progress hit a bit of a road block when he exited a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 19 with what was originally considered a minor wrist injury. X-rays were reportedly negative, as reported by a number of high-profile media members.
After missing Monday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings, Millsap underwent further testing and it was determined that he needs surgery and will be out between two-to-three months as a result, per Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Since the Nuggets are 10-7 and have realistic playoff aspirations, the loss of Millsap will absolutely sting. However, the team has a plethora of frontcourt depth. Therefore, the blow might be slightly easier to withstand.
Kenneth Faried, Mason Plumlee and Juancho Hernandez are candidates to receive additional minutes while Wilson Chandler can also move up to the four spot in the starting five. Nikola Jokic will likely assume an increased role on both ends of the court in order to hold down the frontcourt for the Nuggets.
Durability has never been a concern for Millsap (until right now). In fact, he has never played fewer than 64 games in any individual season.
Barring some kind of miracle, he will play fewer than 64 games this year.
Millsap’s ability to score the basketball won’t necessarily be direly missed either. Sixth man Will Barton has shown the ability to find the bottom of the net with consistency when given large workloads and backcourt players Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay are all offensive threats as well. Coach Malone has the option of going small or going big in Millsap's absence, given the team's impressive depth.
Therefore, perhaps more than other team in this type of situation, Denver is equipped to deal with the loss of their All-Star for a prolonged period of time.