Nuggets take Virginia Commonwealth guard Hyland in draft

The Denver Nuggets selected guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland of Virginia Commonwealth with the 26th pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-3, 165-pound Hyland averaged 19.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 24 games as a sophomore with the Rams last season. He didn’t get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament bubble in March because VCU had to forfeit its first-round game due to COVID-19 issues within the team.

He scored in double figures in all but one of the 24 games last season and had a career-best 30 points in VCU’s 73-68 win over Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinal game in March.

Hyland fills an immediate need in a Denver backcourt that was thin because of injuries and player movement.

The Nuggets had championship aspirations after acquiring forward Aaron Gordon from Orlando for guards Gary Harris and R.J. Hampton at the trade deadline. Three weeks later, point guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn left ACL in the final minute of a loss at Golden State.

A week later, Will Barton suffered a hamstring injury against the Warriors, and several other injuries to Denver guards impacted the team’s backcourt depth. Denver signed veteran Austin Rivers to a 10-day contract and eventually for the remainder of the season.

Led by NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr.’s breakout season and a patchwork backcourt, the Nuggets got by Portland in six games in the first round but were swept by Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Murray is expected to miss most of the 2021-22 season as he rehabs from his ACL tear. Barton declined his player option and became an unrestricted free agent, which put the murky backcourt situation in further flux.

Denver also has unrestricted free agents in JaMychal Green, who also declined his player option, and JaVale McGee and veteran Paul Millsap.

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