The Nuggets have realized former South Carolina basketball player PJ Dozier’s worth in the bubble.
PJ Dozier got the call up as the Denver Nuggets moved into the bubble, receiving a multi-year contract in July. The deal was an obvious upgrade from his previous two-way contract, and showed that the team was planning on using the Columbia native in building their future.
The Gamecock alum had only been apart of Denver’s roster since late June and I was skeptical on if he’d get his shot. Fortunately for Dozier the depth chart wouldn’t allow him to sit on the sidelines.
In early August, the bubble was getting into full swing. Denver was safely in the playoff field, having already clinched a spot in the West, but they were also dealing with some major injury issues.
Young talent Gary Harris was missing time with a hip-muscle strain, rising star Jamal Murray would sit due to left hamstring tightness, and eight-year veteran Will Barton III missed a few games fighting right knee soreness.
This provided the opportunity for Dozier to ball out, and he did. The guard reached double-figures four times over the month of August, ending the regular season with a 20-point outburst against the Raptors. He averaged 10.3 points and dished out 4.3 dimes a contest over that final month leading into the playoffs.
The South Carolina basketball alum could be molded into Denver’s next great 6th man.
The 6’6″ Dozier is a great finisher around the rim, and has excellent court vision. He can easily fit into the future of the Nuggets. Denver is still very high on the young tandem of Harris and Murray but I think that Dozier provides use coming off of the bench as relief.
Looking at the depth chart of the Nuggets they have a total of seven guards, however, unlike the Silva-Miami situation, this roster creates guaranteed playing time for Dozier.
The guards that the Nuggets have outside of Dozier are: Jamal Murray and Gary Harris(the two starters), Will Barton III, Terry Craig, Troy Daniels, and Monte Morris.
Barton may be a good veteran presence in the locker room but there is no way that the Nuggets will want to continue to pay him the guaranteed 25 million dollars in the following two seasons. While Barton does provide a good 15 points per game, I don’t see the Nuggets betting on him long-term.
Craig, Daniels and Morris all average under ten points per game and while they are inexpensive, they don’t have the longevity that Dozier has. Craig and Daniels are in their late 20’s and don’t give the Nuggets a lot of hope of improvement. Morris is averaging nine points a game and definitely has a shot to stay on the Nuggets roster but regardless, I don’t think that’ll take away from Dozier’s playing time in the Nuggets’ future.
Dozier’s NBA bubble play has shown the team that he is worth the long-term investment. He is long and grabs boards, can thread the needle and create plays and can finish in in the paint.
I believe that Dozier be best utilized as the team’s sixth man. He can be the future of this organization’s relief and provide immediate playmaking running the point off the bench.
Dozier also seems to fit into the Denver Nuggets locker room, too. In a post-game interview, Jamal Murray praised Dozier for his ability to “get his blood pumping”:
“He’s not no rookie, he’s talking to everybody, getting me going.”
PJ Dozier is one of a handful of Gamecock players in the NBA and fans should be grateful that he progressed so much in his G-League tenure.
Dozier went undrafted out of college, and signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder before inevitably joining their G-league affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue. He then bounced to the Boston Celtics, joining the Maine Red Claws until finally arriving to a place where he’d shine, the Windy City Bulls.
After having a great G-League year, where Dozier averaged over 21 points per game, seven boards and seven assists, the Denver Nuggets gave Dozier a call and he has since proved his worth.