Following his second season, Detroit sent Arron and Walter Sharpe to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
The Nuggets were thrilled to add a player of Arron’s caliber to their team.
“Arron is a proven NBA defender with an incredible work ethic,” Denver Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien told NBA.com at the time.
Arron was largely an afterthought in Detroit’s rotation for the first two years of his career, starting only 17 games. But in Denver, he quickly impressed and carved out a niche for himself, appearing in all 82 regular season games while starting 75. With more opportunity came bigger numbers. In his first season in Denver, Arron connected on a career-high 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers, while nearly doubling his scoring average.
His potential revealed itself throughout the year, but it was on Jan. 25, 2010 against Charlotte that AA broke out. He scored a new career-high with 24 points and did so in remarkably efficient fashion: 9-of-11 field-goal shooting, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
"I was just trying to find a good rhythm in shooting and I've got to thank my teammates for that, creating all the plays," Afflalo told the Associated Press. "I'm just out there trying to make shots."
Arron had struggled for two years to find a fit with the Pistons in Detroit, but by the end of his first year in Denver, he’d found a home with the Nuggets.
Denver coach George Karl locked him in as a starter in his second year with the Nuggets and Arron rewarded the move. He averaged 12.6 points per game — the first time he averaged double-digit scoring in his NBA career — and became further known throughout the league as a three-point marksman, drilling more than 100 trifectas for the second-straight season.
As the Nuggets developed a different look with the departure of superstar Carmelo Anthony, Arron emerged at the forefront of the franchise’s new generation. His performance in Denver’s 121-120 comeback win against Dallas on Feb. 10, 2011, just 12 days before Anthony was traded to the Knicks served as an unofficial passing of the torch.
With Carmelo on the bench and Dallas leading by one with 19.6 seconds left, Arron assumed the role of go-to guy. Once Chauncey Billups found him, he shook Shawn Marion and drilled a game-winning 19-footer at the buzzer sending the Pepsi Center into a frenzy. Arron Afflalo had arrived.
"I've hit some big shots before, but never have I made the game winner at the buzzer," he told the Associated Press.
"I'm really, really happy for him," Billups told the Associated Press. "When I see the way he works on his game, day in and day out, and finally reap some of the benefits of that, it makes you proud."
It was a long time coming, though — simply a result of consistent hard work that was born out of Arron’s childhood fascination with the game of basketball.
After the 2010-11 season, Denver rewarded Arron in the form of a five-year contract. And again, Arron made the Nuggets look smart. He averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game, but it was in crunch time that AA elevated his game. He led Denver’s charge to a playoff berth by averaging 19.1 points per game during the month of April while shooting 52.8 percent — an astounding number for a guard. The Nuggets won 10-of-14 games in April to clinch the sixth position in the West.
It was just another step in what has been a pattern throughout Arron’s life — constant growth. He doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“My role, my influence and leadership on this team is different. Each year it gets better,” he told NBA.com. “It’s more of an opportunity to be part of something special. I look forward to it.”