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HomeBasketball TodayHidden Gem: The Nuggets Player Fans Must Watch Out For!

Hidden Gem: The Nuggets Player Fans Must Watch Out For!

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This young Nuggets player is definitely one to watch out for.

The Denver Nuggets are grinding their way through the season in the hopes they could defend their NBA title from the previous season. Their season has had it’s ups and downs, and the Nuggets are very aware that defending their title will be no easy feat.

The Western Conference is filled with talented players and teams. Currently, the Nuggets are right in the thick of the playoff race. With only a couple months left in the regular season, they currently sit fourth in the Western Conference with a 36-19 record.

Denver’s bench has been one of their weak points on the season. Head coach Michael Malone has tried a majority of bench lineups, but they’ve still yet to find the perfect combination. However, there are some hidden gems on their roster. Let’s discuss the one underrated Nuggets player that fans should keep their eye on.

Collin Gillespie, Point Guard

Denver Nuggets guard Collin Gillespie (21) controls the ball under pressure from Chicago Bulls forward Terry Taylor
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In his senior year at Villanova, Gillespie injured his left knee during a game against Creighton. That knocked him out for the rest of the season, including the NCAA tournament. So, his plans to go pro had to take a rain check, and he went back to Villanova for a fifth year.

Once healed, Gillespie returned and had the best season of his college career. He posted an impressive 15.6 points per game on average, becoming the top scorer for his team. He snagged the Big East Player of the Year title for the second time. With Gillespie’s help, Villanova made it to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.

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Over his five-year stint at Villanova, he compiled an impressive resume, racking up 1,858 points, 482 assists, 449 rebounds, and 154 steals across 156 games.

Despite his career at Villanova, Gillespie would go undrafted during the 2022 NBA draft. The Nuggets would then sign Gillespie to a two-way contract. 

Gillespie goes pro with the Denver Nuggets

It didn’t take long for Gillespie to showcase glimpses of his potential in the 2022 Summer League where he took charge of Denver’s offense. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Although his shooting percentages from the field (39.5 percent) and the 3-point line (28 percent) weren’t stellar, Gillespie’s impact went beyond the numbers. He topped the charts for rebounds per game among rookie point guards in Vegas and left his mark on the defensive end with an average of 1.5 steals per game.

Gillespie seemed ready to fight for a spot in the Denver Nuggets rotation once training camp rolled around. Unfortunately, those plans took an unexpected turn when he fractured his left leg during a practice at his alma mater. The injury undeniably cast a shadow over Gillespie’s rookie season aspirations. Gillespie would undergo surgery, and he made a complete recovery. He would provide moral support throughout the season as the Nuggets were en route to their first-ever NBA Championship.

Gillespie laced up for the Nuggets in the 2023 Summer League, notching an average of 7.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals. He shot 30.2 percent from the field, 28 percent from beyond the arc, and a steady 75 percent from the free-throw line over five games.

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The Nuggets would give Gillespie some time to solidify his skills with the Nuggets’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. In seven games with the Gold, Gillespie averaged 20.3 points, 11.1 assists and 9.5 rebounds. 

What Gillespie brings to the Nuggets

Collin Gillespie brings an impressive 3-point shooting game to the table, showcasing precision whether it’s on catch-and-shoot opportunities or off-the-dribble situations. He honed his offensive skills over his five seasons at Villanova, transforming into a potent scoring threat. In his final college season, Gillespie knocked down a solid 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts on an average of 7.2 tries per game.

One notable concern for Gillespie is his lack of size, limited physicality, and relatively small 6-foot-3 wingspan. Gillespie falls short of being a standout defender. His ability to consistently stay in front of opponents and defend the wing is erratic, occasionally appearing clumsy and slow. With this only being his second season in the NBA, there is still time for Gillespie to make strides in his defensive capabilities.

Given his experience, court awareness and scoring ability, Gillespie provides an intriguing piece to the Nuggets. If Gillespie continues to dominate in the G League, there is a solid chance he will see more minutes with the Nuggets.

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