As each team’s off-season draws closer, everyone is starting to predict where the big free agents will sign or resign. Is Kawhi Leonard going to return to San Antonio? Who is going to make a play on Paul George? Is LeBron James going to run it back with Cleveland or chase Michael Jordan’s shadow elsewhere?
Many of these big questions will hold the NBA media’s attention for much of the early offseason. However, each team has a couple small transaction decisions that will receive little to no media attention but could become very important later.
The Denver Nuggets have a few big things to address. Will they decline Nikola Jokic‘s team option and sign him to an extension? Will they re-sign perennial sixth man candidate Will Barton to a lucrative deal? What is the team going to do with Kenneth Faried‘s contract? These have become the talk of the town in the Nuggets’ community here in Denver.
Despite the magnitude of the choices above, there is one small choice that I believe the front office needs to address this offseason. The Nuggets need to re-sign Torrey Craig before someone else makes him an offer.
Who is Torrey Craig?
Torrey Craig is not a household name to many NBA viewers; heck, he isn’t even a household name to many Nugget fans unless you’re a die-hard fan.
Craig had an unconventional journey to the NBA. He went undrafted in 2014 after playing at a very small Division I school in University of South Carolina Upstate. After failing to get an NBA nod, he traveled down to Australia to continue his basketball career for the next three years. Following an incredible 10-game stint for the Gold Coast Rollers, he was given the chance to play for the Nuggets summer league team. Craig dominated the summer league and was given a two-way contract to play this past season.
Why should we keep this guy?
It comes to no surprise that one of the Nuggets biggest weaknesses is their lack of depth at the small forward position. Starting small forward Wilson Chandler can opt out of his final year and test free agency. After Chandler, the Nuggets don’t have a true small forward. We have a group of guys such as Juancho Hernangomez, Tyler Lydon or Barton who can play that position, but it isn’t natural. Torrey Craig instantly solves that dilemma.
Craig isn’t your natural “go-to” small forward like Kevin Durant or LeBron James. While his offensive skills are there, that isn’t what necessarily makes him valuable. His value comes from his hustle and energy which translates into the a couple reasons why we should re-sign him.
Reason #1: He can lock people up
Denver has always lacked perimeter defenders. Carmelo Anthony provided little to no effort on the defensive end during his tenure. Andre Iguodala played fairly stifling defense during his time, but he left us after one year. Following Iguodala, we have had Wilson Chandler. He has been decent, but his durability has always been a question.
Craig brings it on the defensive end. Each night, Craig prided himself on guarding the likes of Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard, LeBron and Paul George just to name a few. It is very rare to see a rookie step up to those challenges each night, but Torrey held his own.
Reason #2: He will not break the bank
Denver has a lot of in-house financial responsibilities to attend to this off-season. From the Jokic extension, to potential opt-ins to a potential re-signing of Will Barton, the Nuggets know their salary is finite. Making a massive splash in free agency to bring in a premier small forward is very unlikely, but the position still needs to be addressed.
According to HoopsHype.com, Torrey Craig’s salary for the 2017-2018 season was $75,000, which gave him as the 565th most expensive salary in the NBA. Obviously, a new contract would not come that cheap, but a couple million over a few seasons would easily fit the payroll if that’s what it takes to re-sign Craig.
The final take
This seems like a very unimportant move in the grand scheme of things. Most people probably thing Craig adds little to zero value to the team if we do in fact re-sign him so they probably haven’t even bothered to get this far down the article.
For those who are intrigued by this idea, riddle me this if you are still on the fence. What does this play show you as a fan of the Nuggets?
Craig actually chased down a fast break to get a block during the second quarter of a game. I don’t know about you, but when I see someone who gives that much effort all the time, I want him to play on my team.