In case you haven’t noticed, Trey Lyles has fully arrived as a very solid NBA player. He’s been one of the Denver Nuggets most consistent players and been vital to keeping them in the playoff picture.
In terms of gaining personal accolades such as “Most Improved Player of the Year”, Lyles might not have picked the best year to have a breakout season. Victor Oladipo seems to have that award locked up right now. But as for Mile High basketball fans, we won’t let Trey’s elevated play go unappreciated.
How He Got Here
The third year veteran, traded from the Utah Jazz, has looked like an entirely different player since joining the Nuggets. Unfortunately, the price the Nuggets paid for Lyles was their 13th overall pick in the 2017 draft, which was Donovan Mitchell. It’s not Trey’s fault that Mitchell turned out to be an absolute beast. We’ll just focus on what he can control.
Lyles is averaging 11.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in just under 21 minutes so far this year (all career-highs). A statistical increase of about four points and two rebounds doesn’t seem so significant when you include the four more minutes he’s playing, but his efficiency is the game changer.
His far from impressive 36.2 shooting percentage from a year ago has been brought all the way up to 50.8 percent this season. He’s seen his 3-point percentage rise from 31.9 percent to a scorching 42.7 percent.
This jump start to his career took place very suddenly after barely vying for minutes the first month and a half of the season. Mark the date: Nov. 30. Lyles contributed 10 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Since then, he’s seen at least 21 minutes of action in all but three games. His production has more than justified it. The injury to starting power forward Paul Millsap has also helped him get the minutes he deserves.
This Year’s Production
In 26.4 minutes, he’s averaging 14.3 points and 6.6 rebounds on 51.3 percent shooting from the field. He’s also shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc. Maybe three years ago these numbers were expected out of the former Kentucky Wildcats player and 12th overall pick. After two relatively disappointing seasons, these stats come as a very pleasant surprise.
The production of Lyles will be an X-factor for a Nuggets team looking for playoff experience as they try to become contenders in the wild Western Conference.