Healthy Arthur has big role for Nuggets

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

Dar­rell Arthur has played plenty of good bas­ket­ball in his ca­reer, so he won’t eas­ily say th­ese are his best days. But he’s play­ing at a high level. Arthur’s 7.7 points and 4.0 re­bounds are his best av­er­ages since the 2010-11 sea­son. His field-goal per­cent­age (.485) is the se­cond-best of his ca­reer, and his 3-point per­cent­age (.421) de­stroys his pre­vi­ous ca­reer high of .375. He made only 23.6 per­cent of his shots be­hind the arc last sea­son.

“He’s been shoot­ing the ball from the field, from the 3 very ef­fi­ciently,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone.

The big­gest rea­son for Arthur’s re­li­a­bil­ity? Good health.

“I feel like I’m get­ting my legs back un­der me,” Arthur said. That has been a big deal. For the bet­ter part of the past two sea­sons, one in­jury or an­other im­paired his abil­ity to get in any kind of of­fen­sive rhythm. He would be miss­ing time re­hab­bing or play­ing through in­juries that didn’t al­low him to be as ef­fec­tive as he could be.

That hasn’t been a prob­lem this sea­son.

Arthur has missed only three games, and he has been counted on more be­cause of in­juries and ab­sences to other mem­bers of the Nuggets’ front­court. In the past two games, Arthur is av­er­ag­ing 18.0 points and 9.5 re­bounds. He is shoot­ing 69.6 per­cent from the field in that span. The re­bound­ing stands out. “The knock on D.A. is al­ways ‘He’s this, he’s that, but he’s not a big re­bound­ing for­ward,’ ” Malone said. “Well, I tell you what, when Ken­neth (Faried) was out when his wife was hav­ing the baby, and (last Wed­nes­day against Golden State), D.A. has shown he can shoot. You can trust him, and he can also re­bound the bas­ket­ball at a fairly high level.”

Arthur, a 6-foot-9 for­ward, scored 18 points and grabbed eight re­bounds in the Nuggets’ 98-95 loss to Mi­ami on Fri­day.

“My legs are feel­ing good. I think my team­mates are do­ing a good job find­ing me,” the Kansas prod­uct said. “I think we’re do­ing a great job of mov­ing the bas­ket­ball.”

Arthur has been ev­ery­thing the Nuggets hoped he would be when he re-signed with them last sum­mer, a two-year con­tract in the neigh­bor­hood of $6 mil­lion, with a player op­tion. Arthur was close to sign­ing with the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers as a free agent, but af­ter talk­ing to Den­ver gen­eral man­ager Tim Con­nelly and Malone, Arthur was con­vinced the Nuggets were on the right path. He said he wanted to be a part of that.

Lately, he has been a big part of what the Nuggets are do­ing on the court.

“I have trust in him as a de­fen­sive an­chor, as an of­fen­sive an­chor,” Malone said. “You feel good when he has the ball. You feel good that he’s go­ing to com­mu­ni­cate on de­fense. He’s go­ing to step up and make the right play. He’s been tremen­dous lately. I can’t say enough good things about D.A.”

Dar­rell Arthur, right, is play­ing well for the Nuggets at age 27. He is av­er­ag­ing 7.7 points and 4.0 re­bounds in 37 games, in­clud­ing nine starts. David Zalubowski, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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