The move to sign Hartenstein comes on the heels of Denver losing Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and rescinding Torrey Craig’s qualifying offer in free agency. With Denver re-signing power forward Paul Millsap and signing power forward/center JaMychal Green, the Nuggets needed one last big man to mitigate the loss of Plumlee in the rotation.
Hartenstein, 22, spent parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons with the Houston Rockets as an emergency center option. The German-American played in 23 games last year, averaging 11.6 minutes, 4.7 points, and 3.9 rebounds per game in a small role.
Most of Hartenstein’s work came in the G League. In 14 games, Hartenstein averaged a ridiculous 24.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists on 32.9 minutes per game. He was a beast against G League competition.
We will see if Hartenstein is given a chance to flourish in Denver. The Nuggets just drafted Arizona big man Zeke Nnaji and have Bol Bol to play at the forward spots. Hartenstein will probably start the year as the backup center, but we will see if he keeps that role.
More on the report from Mike Singer, which can be found here, it appears that the Nuggets have multiple moves concocted, and instead of using Hartenstein in the final roster spot, the Nuggets will be waiving forward Keita Bates-Diop. After losing Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig, it’s a curious move by the Nuggets to waive another 6’8” forward. Bates-Diop was acquired in the Malik Beasley-Juancho Hernangomez trade that saw the Nuggets rekindle a first round pick. The Nuggets apparently liked others more in this case.
Two additional moves that Singer reported include two-way contracts. First, the Nuggets are converting Bol Bol to a full-time contract. This indicates Denver’s belief in Bol Bol being a contributor as soon as this season.
The Nuggets front office likes Bol a lot, and head coach Michael Malone also loves Bol’s intelligence and ability to pick up concepts quickly, despite being a quiet individual. Bol played in seven games during the bubble and is still classified as a rookie. He will likely be a fringe rotation player for the Nuggets this season rather than a permanent addition, but his talent is undeniable.
In freeing up Bol’s two-way contract spot, the Nuggets are expected to fill that two-way with international forward Greg Whittington, 27, who is a 6’9” athletic wing/forward type. Whittington played for Galatasaray in the EuroCup this past year, averaging 12.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and shooting 53% from three-point range in his 14 contests. Whittington represents a good replacement for a player of Grant’s body type, and he’s a good flyer to add to a roster that needs good athletes who can do a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball.
So, here’s where Denver’s current depth chart stands in my estimation:
Barton, a true shooting guard, slides to small forward here as the projected backup for Porter. He could just as easily start at shooting guard, but given the losses the Nuggets have sustained at small forward and power forward, it makes sense for Barton to play the 3.
We will see what the Nuggets ultimately decide to do and if this is the final roster.