Over the weekend, Denver Nuggets fans received some horrible news.

According to Mike Singer of the Denver Post, Slovenian forward Vlatko Čančar suffered a torn ACL during a game while going up for a dunk. The game was a preparatory contest between the Slovenian and Greek national teams for the FIBA World Cup later this month.

According to Singer, there is no timetable for Čančar’s return to play. A reasonable expectation would be that the Slovenian forward will miss the entire 2023-24 season.

Čančar, 26, is the fourth longest tenured Nugget behind Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., having played four seasons in a Nuggets uniform. During the 2022-23 season, Čančar played 60 games, averaging just about 15 minutes, 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game.

In the last two years, Čančar began to show real signs of being a competitive option in an NBA rotation. He showcased strong basketball IQ, quality outside shooting, and even some athleticism. With the departure of Jeff Green, there was a real chance that Čančar would have played a significant role in the rotation of Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be possible at this stage.

What the Nuggets will end up doing without Čančar is to be determined. With Green and Bruce Brown also leaving, the Nuggets bench is decidedly thin. The starters all remain in place, but the bench will likely be entirely remade around Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, and Zeke Nnaji. Those nine, along with DeAndre Jordan and two-way contract Collin Gillespie, are the only remaining holdovers from last year’s bench. They, along with veteran wing Justin Holiday, should be expected to get the first crack at the regular season rotation.

Rookies Jalen Pickett, Julian Strawther, and Hunter Tyson are also likely to be a factor. Tyson in particular makes sense as a positional replacement for Čančar, with both standing around 6’8″ and playing floor spacing forward roles. Tyson’s efforts during Las Vegas summer league earned him a spot on the first-team of the entire event. Perhaps he will be ready to contribute sooner than expected.

Most likely though: Čančar’s injury will put more pressure on Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. in particular. Gordon averaged 30.2 minutes in 68 games last regular season, almost entirely at the power forward position. Those minutes may go up with Čančar injured and Green gone. Porter, who played 62 games and averaged 29.0 minutes per contest, could also see additional minutes as he distances himself from his third back surgery that sidelined the forward for almost the entire 2021-22 season. Porter appears ready to assume more responsibility for the Nuggets, and that could involved more minutes staggering at power forward for the second unit.

Whatever happens, the Nuggets will miss Čančar’s contributions on the court. He’s a great teammate, puts others before himself, and simply wants to see the team win. To see him suffer an injury of this magnitude is extremely unfortunate, and the Nuggets will be worse for it.