NUGGETS

A more mature Bones Hyland is ready for a big year-two jump

Sep 28, 2022, 4:35 PM
Bones Hyland...
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Bones Hyland admits he didn’t even know Luka Dončić and Vlatko Cančar are from the same country, proving he still has much to learn.

Cančar shared a hug with Hyland on Monday during Denver Nuggets Media Day when the two talked about each other’s summers.

Hyland detailed his highlight, a buzzer-beater three in a Pro-Am game after he purposely missed a free throw that would’ve sealed it.

“I don’t have the balls to do that,” Cančar said. “I would’ve hit the free throw.”

And that’s the crux for one of the most exciting young players in the NBA; how can Hyland maintain the joy and excitement while getting more steady?

“When Bones is in the gym, you feel you feel his energy field, his personality. And that’s what I love about him,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The challenge that was laid forth for Bones is when you’re making threes, and you’re dancing, and you’re putting up goggles, that’s great. But when you don’t make the three, well, you get scored on. You got to keep on playing. Don’t bow your head. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Get your butt back on defense and help your team, and that’s going to be a big part of his maturation as well as handling adversity and next play mentality, but I think Bones is poised for a hell of a second season in the NBA.”

Bones addressed a year two jump straight on. So how does he go from 10 points a game on nearly two makes from three with almost three assists and rebounds a night to something better?

“My biggest has always been my year two from high school to college just going out there and the more opportunity, that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said. “Just want to go out there and be myself, and you know, I’ll be special.”

The Nuggets drafted Hyland after his sophomore season at VCU. In his second season for the Rams, he jumped from 20 minutes a game to 32, from nine points a night to 19.5, his rebounds doubled, and assists went up.

“What he showed me this summer was you that he was willing to grow up and are willing to mature,” Malone said. “We saw the potential; we saw the excitement; we saw the ability. The one game to beat Golden State, Bones obviously showed out and had a heck of a performance. But my challenge to Bones after the season was gotta grow up. You have to learn how to be a pro. You got to handle the details and create a routine with discipline. And he’s done that.”

Hyland goes from a rookie with little expectation to a guy who earned a spot in the rotation last year, finished Second Team All-Rookie, and had moments of brilliance. In year two, he is firmly the sixth man and backup point guard. But there’s more for Bones on this year’s team, given that Jamal Murray is coming off an ACL injury and is likely to miss back-to-backs and other rest nights. That means Bones, who only had four starts last season, will have more chances to start.

Bones, drafted at No. 26, has played the 16th most minutes among his rookie class. He is showing how much of a steal he has been for Denver.

“He was phenomenal throughout August into September, a lot of days was the best player on the court,” Malone said. “So my expectations are for him to continue his maturation as a player. When called upon to go out there and do his job. It’s not just scoring; he’s also making his teammates better. And I have to remember he’s a second-year pro, and there will still be some growing pains, and I’m going to have his back, and I’m going to help him get through those things.”

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