Too Much Depth?

Let’s be clear about one thing — at 14-7 even after two straight losses the Nuggets’ greatest strength is their depth.

When the Nuggets assembled a roster featuring two starting lineups and a couple of NBA-ready rookies behind them, they instantly gained a big advantage over every other team in a lockout-shortened NBA season. They’ve dealt with injuries better than just about anyone and built the second-highest scoring bench in the league.

Denver is going to be a great regular season team behind their depth. They can afford to limit their starters to 20 minutes per night if need be. In many cases there is little to no difference between the second and third string guys at every position.

I still think there is an intelligent debate to be had about whether too much of a good thing can actually turn out bad. George Karl has said the first 20 games of the season are essentially training camp, and at about one-third of the way into the season we’ve reached that point. The rotation should be shaping up nicely and guys should be settling into their roles as the Nuggets prepare to really start hitting their stride.

The reality is time has brought more questions than answers when it comes to the Nuggets’ rotation. Things look even murkier now than before the season began. Last night against the Grizzlies, the Nuggets had everyone available for the first time in weeks (minus DeMarre Carroll). The result was a disappointing overtime loss in which 11 players saw the floor and all except one of them played 10 minutes or more.

No one outside of Ty Lawson and Gallo has a clearly defined role. Statistically, Andre Miller is having the worst season of his career and he’s played his best as a fill-in starter. Arron Afflalo is off to a slow start and can safely be considered one of the most disappointing free agent acquisitions of last summer. Al Harrington is a sixth man of the year candidate, but George Karl is torn on whether to play him 25 or 35 minutes a night. Timofey Mozgov is improving but can barely be considered a legit starter, much less a player deserving of even 20 minutes a night. Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Kosta Koufos and Birdman could see anywhere from 0-25 minutes a night.

Even Gallo is starting to feel the wrath of a coach with too many options. After George Karl benched him following a 1-10 shooting performance, fans were quick to blame the loss solely on Karl’s decision. Never mind the fact Gallo was having a terrible game and Rudy Gay was destroying him in the second half. Never mind the fact that after benching Gallo, Karl’s team immediately went up by double digits and even led by 12 with six minutes remaining.

George Karl is in a no-win situation. Gallo comes out with a bad effort as the game is slipping away, so Karl uses his depth and ends up being vilified for it. Second guess Karl all you want, but he’s benched Gallo before and won overtime games for it. This was supposed to be Denver’s greatest advantage: the reason they were better prepared for a hectic, unpredictable shortened season better than anyone else.

Instead, Denver’s depth has been a curse more often that it’s been a blessing. Basketball players are creatures of habit, and Denver’s role players are not enjoying individual success despite the team managing to squeak out wins.

Birdman was the best backup center in the league two seasons ago, now he’s a shadow of his former self and barely seeing 10 minutes of action per night. Although Birdman has 3 years and around $15million left on his contract, Denver just signed 22-year old Kosta Koufos to be his replacement at a much lower cost. Birdman’s future in Denver is ending, the only question remaining is just how much time he has left.

Rudy Fernandez was seeing 30 minutes a game earlier in the year while Corey Brewer sat on the bench. Now, Karl is trying to play both. Rudy just came off two solid games where he played at least 30 minutes and followed it up with a scoreless 19 minutes against Memphis. Is there enough room for both Rudy and Corey Brewer in a healthy lineup? As long as Karl plays his two point guards as much as he likes to play them, I fear there isn’t. Rudy and Brewer will likely continue to be inconsistent as their minutes wildly fluctuate all season long.

Denver’s depth is also forcing them to play small. The one constant in Karl’s lineup is that he will close games with a Miller-Lawson backcourt and Al Harrington playing power forward. This leaves Denver extremely vulnerable defensively and Karl does not know how to react. We’ve seen him try multiple lineups alongside Miller, Ty, and Harrington with limited success. While the Nuggets used to depend on Kenyon Martin straightening out the defense, Karl is now stuck with Gallo and Al Harrington switched onto the opposition’s best player. The result is a dysfunctional defense giving up wide open layups at the end of the games.

Denver’s defense has been in steady decline. With the roster overflowing with capable swingmen, Karl’s only answer is to go small and try to run up the score. It is not a bad strategy, but as we have seen in previous games the Nuggets do not know who to play and they struggle to get consistent production from anyone.

Where depth really hurts the most is no doubt seeing the promising young rookies permanently glued to the end of the bench. With so many capable players already deserving of more minutes, it is not conceivable Jordan Hamilton or Kenneth Faried will play meaningful minutes this season. It would probably take a season ending injury to Al Harrington or Andre Miller for enough minutes to open up. Without a trade or unusual injury situation, I can’t imagine Karl giving either of these guys a single meaningful minute.

So what’s the solution? Clearly the first step is for Karl to bench someone now. With a healthy lineup it’s hard to go with an 11-man rotation and expect the team to perform well. In big games, Karl shortens up the rotations considerably and going forward he needs to establish consistency.

The biggest issue is the rotation at center. Benching Birdman or Koufos would go a long way to giving one of them a fair chance at becoming a solid contributor that Karl can rely on night in and night out. At this point, I believe Koufos has produced more in the time he’s had and is deserving of the backup Center position. Birdman can come in for spot duty and pick up the slack when the Nuggets experience injuries or foul trouble.

That gives Denver a healthy 10-man rotation to work from. I have no idea how to fix the Brewer/Rudy/Afflalo conundrum. At this point I am beginning to doubt Afflalo is worthy of 30+ minutes a night unless his performance picks up considerably in the next 10 games or so.

Regardless of how this all shakes out, what do we really know about the rotation 21 games into the season? When the playoffs come around, every contending team will have their 8-man rotation set. The starters will play as many minutes as their fouls and their bodies allow. The bench players will have fought hard for their minutes and there won’t be any serious questions about who deserves to be on the floor during postseason play.

Answering those questions when it comes to the Nuggets is a daunting proposition. Denver will probably go with a 9 man rotation, but who will they be? George Karl’s assessment that the first 20 games will be a training camp in which he decides which guys to play may turn into 30 or 45 games considering the way things are going right now.

Denver will get back to winning regular season games soon, but these depth issues continue to cloud their long-term future and prospects for playoff success.  There are much, much worse problems for an NBA team to have other than what the Nuggets are currently facing. However, after 21 games this team needs to at least start taking baby steps toward figuring out a rotation they can build around going forward.

It’s a fair question to ask. With this roster remaining intact, is too much depth becoming a problem?

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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • steve

    i agree with alot of this. Too much depth is a concern. GK knows that rudy has always felt abandoned in this league so im sure thats a point to play him so he feels comfortable. he’s as hot and cold as they come. Brewer just plays so many tough minutes its hard to keep him off the court.

    I think we should move AA to the bench for right now. Start Rudy. He allows us to spread the floor and isnt afraid to take a 3 pointer which AA is right now. AA needs a wake up call and the only way he is going to get it is if he gets benched and only plays 15 minutes per game for a little. I also cant stand mozgov fumbling every pass to him. Man he has terrible hands. He cost us at least 2 or 3 baskets last night.

    Alot of this is GK’s fault though. I dont understand at the end of games why he cant play offense and defense especially when he has the Timeouts. Im sorry, there is no excuse for allowing 2 soft rebounders in Nene and Al on the floor at the end of a game playing D when you need the rebounder while being up 2. THIS IS WHAT COST US THE GAME! It should have been KK, Nene, Brewer or Al, AA and Miller or Ty. You need to add another big man. Al probably shouldnt be on the court at that point. We’ve seen time and time again that we cant rebound.

    • nugoftruth

      I am a big GK fan. On that note…. What was he doing in that 4 last game?? It took me till now to not be furious after that game. That 4th quarter and over time was all on him. That line up is not what Denver is about. Miller slows the pace too much and is a defensive liability. He is a great back up, but he is what was killing us in those situations. I do not want the ball in the hands of the oldest and slowest nugget in crunch time and he gets toasted every time they attack him on defense. When did Miller become an option for jump shots at all?
      Ty needs the ball in his hands in that situation if he is indeed the pg of the future. We have such great options to replace him…. rudy, brewer, I would even rather see stone out there…

    • Dubz

      While I mostly agree, the problem isn’t Al being on the court in crunch time. The problem is when he’s on the court in crunch time alongside Nene, AAA, Miller, and Lawson. Harrington isn’t a PF but has the size to defend some PF’s in this league. However, if he’s going to play PF, you must have a SF on the court who has size and can rebound. When Afflalo is playing SF, rebounding isn’t his strength. So now you have your front court filled with guys who are either out of position or aren’t the strongest rebounders. Gallinari, Brewer, or Chandler (if we re sign him) would be great complimentary players at the SF in this lineup. Being undersized at a couple positions is fine, but with the lineup of Nene, Harrington, AAA, Miller, and Lawson, we’re undersized at EVERY position. This can’t happen especially when we have the lead and need rebounds to seal the game.

  • Ernie

    In the “Book of Basketball” Bill Simmons talks about how on the late 80’s Pistons they had a really deep team but they needed to play the young guys to let them get better. That’s when they made a strange (at the time) decision to trade Adrian Dantley and replace him with Mark Aguire. Dantley apparently was selfish and unwilling to give up minutes without a fight. The trade allowed them to get Dennis Rodman (similar to Faried) and John Salley more minutes, rest the veterans to keep them fresh and gave the path to 2 championships.

    IMHO the Nugs have the same issues. We’ve seen Bird pouting the last few games over his lack of minutes. And Miller is tired and ineffective at the end of games (see turnovers and 2 missed free throws from your PG) which is also keeping Stone from developing a handle on running the offense.

    I don’t know if a trade is necessary, but I think embracing the depth is the solution. Playing the same guys for the entire 4Q and then overtime is no way to take advantage of our biggest asset.

    • Andrew

      I agree, Ernie.

  • chronosynclastic infundibula

    They should trade Bird and Miller for draft picks and resign Chandler.

    Our playoff rotation would be:


    • steve

      im not a huge miller fan but we need him THIS year. Do you know how many games he has bailed us out of? several. Love stone but he’s one guy i dont mind sitting out for a year and then takes over backup next year.

      As far as birdman, you cant trade him. Nobody would want him with that contract for 2 more years.

      You need to package birdman with Chandler. It’s the only way to get rid of him unless you amnesty on offseason. No reason to pay chandler 8 mill to be a reserve when we can pay brewer for less than half.

      also, chandler didnt want to be here last year. You can tell hes a big city guy.

      Id love for us to trade chandler to Tor for their 1st. Doubt it happens. But maybe they would part with Ed Davis which would give us another great asset on the cheap. Toronto has the cap room to sign chandler and stay under cap.

  • A_Roth

    Nuggets fans and RMC Bloggers, what do you think about the rumor on this morning about KG putting on the powder blue?

    • nathan

      I heard about it I don’t think it would be a good fit. He’s an older player who’s game isn’t much better than what we have now. We already have a ton of depth which could create issues come playoff time, we don’t need any more unless we dump some in return. I would rather go after someone like Howard or Bynum and try to turn some extra unneeded bench depth into an upgrade at center.

    • steve

      honestly, KG would be a solid addition for us IF we didnt have to get rid of anything worth wild. Hes owed alot of money and no way we could match that without going over the luxury i would think unless we gave up the farm which we wont do.

  • nathan

    The biggest problem I see with having depth is that come playoff time there will be no minutes for half of the team, and all that time spent accumulating quality players will be wasted. People talked about the rebounding problem last night- sounds like we should have had Faried in the game.

    Solution: Why not make a pitch for Howard? Hear me out. The nuggets weakest position is center. Howard wants out of Orlando- and if he’s serious about going to a winning program then he would have a good situation here. The Nuggets could offer probably the best package of depth and young players that Orlando could recieve in the NBA, without destroying their roster. Remember, come playoff time, our depth wont matter as much because we wont be playing 5-6 players anyways. They will be glued to the bench.

    Trade Mozgov, Birdman, Stone, Miller, Faried and maybe a draftpick for Howard.

    We start Howard, Nene, Gallo, Ty, AA.
    Bench would be Harrington, Koufos, Brewer, Rudy.

    This would kind of go against our “team first and depth” mentality we have right now, but getting Howard would be such a huge improvement at the position for us that it would be worth it.

    I’ll have to use the NBA trade machine on espn to check and see if the trade would go through.

    Orlando gets what they want which is young talent for howard: Moz, Stone, Faried, a pick, one or two other players to make the salaries work.

    And we should refuse to take any other bad contracts from them in any trade.

    • klaboria

      Hey nathan,

      Too much for Howard. I know he has a big contract but what happened to the Knicks this year when WE gutted them for Melo.

      The Knicks learned the hard way that NO player is worth 4 guys.

      That being said we know Karl has a say in the front office, its just a say yes but they do listen to their coach when making moves. Which means you wont see Miller being traded anytime soon. He is a Karl kind of player and GK will fight tooth and nail to keep him.

      Trading Faried is also probably going to end up doing more harm then good. He projects to be a Howard like producer right now. Throw in the fact that the fanbase here in town LOVES him (which is important to all denver sports) and I think he is almost untouchable also. Add to the fact that he is a hustle, grind it out, work hard guy that GK also loves which means he is probably out.

      Our best bet at landing D12 (which is a horrible idea since he will NEVER sign an extension here, so at best we are renting him for the season) is to do KK, Brewer, Carroll and a draft pick plus money considerations

      just this man’s 2 cents =)

      • nathan

        Hi, thanks for the response… I was just trying to do a trade where the salaries would match.

        Getting Howard- IF he would sign the extension, would be a big improvement for any team in my opinion, especially the Nuggs.

        The thing about the Knicks is that they traded away many starters from a team without as much depth as we have now. The trade I proposed doesn’t kill the Nuggets starters- it ships out “dead bench weight”, players who aren’t seeing any playing time right now and won’t hurt our starting lineup with the exception of Miller who is the vet backup. We would still have Nene, GAllo, Ty, and AA, keeping our starting rotation intact while dramatically improving the center position. Defense and rebounding would improve for the Nuggets.

        • steve

          D12 doesnt want to be here though. He wants a major market. plus we’d have to give gallo, chandler and mozgov, faried along with picks for d12 and turk most likely. no way we do that.

          • Brad H.

            You’re absolutely right, Steve, Howard would not come to Denver. And even if that pipe dream could remotely approach reality the Nugs would have to forfeit at least our two best players (Ty and either Gallo or Nene) and a first rounder. of course we’d love to have Howard. Who doesn’t. But you’d never see Howard, Nene, Ty and Gallo in the same starting lineup.

    • gk4prez

      The Nuggets weakest position is SG.

    • Charliemyboy

      You know… that would be so intriguing with some tweaking… instant contender!

  • A_Roth

    I don’t think D12 really sees Denver as a legitimate landing spot. However, if he wanted to win soon, he should add places like Denver and Philly to his list where talent at the 5 could put the team in title contention.

    I wouldn’t count on seeing Dwight in a Nuggets uniform ever, but even of he decided to, there is no way ORL would accept a trade with anything less than Nene, a couple of young pieces, and the knicks #1 we have coming our way. Nene and Dwight would likely clog things up for each other anyway. In fact, we’d probably see Al and Gallo playing minutes at the 4 if Dwight were a Nuggets, as he plays best next to a shooting ‘stretch’ 4.

    It’s all a pipe dream anyway, but it’s fun to think about. Denver would be as good or better than the Magic finals team from a few years ago.

    Ty > Jameer
    AAA/Rudy > Lee/Redick
    Gallo/Al/Brewer = or > Pietrus/Lewis/Turk
    Howard/Moz/Kouf = Howard/Gortat

    • nathan

      Probably right about the magic wanting more. Young talent might be all they can get though. He’s walking after this season, they need to make a move before the deadline. The Nuggs are a longshot because he might not want to come here, but it should still be something they try to swing.

  • tron7

    As long as we’re discussing trades, someone try and talk me out of trading for Andy Varajao. I think a Chandler/Birdman package would do it and could solve a lot of our problems right now.

  • A_Roth

    Here’s why Orlando will get more for him than just some youth and picks, even though they know he wants out: There are still several teams that want him, and they are bidding against each other for the best big in the league. I’d be shocked if they got anything less in return than what Denver got from NY last year.

  • Vitaliy

    Contrary to popular logic, I disagree that the Nuggets most pressing need is at center. Look around the league and see that the center position, is scarce for talent. A young seven footer who can rebound and block shots is definitely very serviceable. The nuggets should be willing to forgive his lack of offensive prowess.

    Getting someone like Dwight Howard would leave Nene as a casualty. Both guys need the ball in their hands down low and would not give each other the space they need to operate.

    Really, I think the most pressing need for the Nuggets is consistency. Though, it is hard to figure out who will be consistent, the Nuggets clearly have that kind of identity crisis as the roles are so loosely defined.

    Aside from Gallo and Harrington, what we get from the others varies wildly from night to night. Sure, those two have off nights, but at least they generally look to attack as long as they are on the court. Within games, Nene and Lawson will play with intensity and aggressiveness for stretches and then completely fade away.

    This makes the coaching decisions for George Karl increasingly difficult. Assuredly, most coaches would salivate at the opportunity to have the flexibility to play upwards of 10 players. However, there is a certain liability in having to constantly tinker with the lineup throughout a game. If Gallo is our top guy, then why is he is not in overtime? Is Rudy Fernandez the guy we want to take the final shot? Do we run the offense through Nene or rely on the pick and roll? It seems there are a lot of questions that I don’t think will be answered without a shakeup in the roster.

  • Hi

    It’s funny how much we panic over two losses just take it easy y’all clippers game no Ty Chauncey. Had the game of his life. Memphis game was ugly no doubt. The rotation just needs to become more set aaa will get there eventually even if it’s not till playoffs idc as long as its by than. Ty needs to take more control coach Karl can’t leave Galo out.

    • Charlie

      The rotation does need to become more set. The problem is we’re 21 games into the season and the Nuggets haven’t even taken small steps to figure out the rotation

  • Viktor

    The Nuggets are fine with the centers and power forwards they have but I’ve been disappointed with Birdman’s play and AAA. Before the season started I was in panic mode. I thought that without afflalo the nuggets would be dead meat. Now I think AAA, Bird, and Jstone should al be dealt for a First round pick and some mediocre player. Honestly the nuggets could be fine without these players and would clear up cap space. How about drafting a good PG player because amiller might leave denver. I would like if Dre stayed but you never know.

  • Princewell Ahaneku

    The Nuggets Trade Senario:
    Trade Nene, AAA, Bird, Carroll, Hamilton, and a pick or two for Howard. If Orlando wants one more player throw in either Rudy or Brewer. My choice is trade Rudy and I’ll explain why. Here’s what that trade would do for the Nuggets: their depth problem would be solved because their wouldn’t be too many players to play anymore, Karl would be forced to develop KK, Faried and Stone which will help the Nuggets in the playoffs, when Chandler comes back there will be plenty of minutes for him especially if Rudy or Brewer will have to be included in the trade, the Nuggets will have a legit point guard tandem and a dominant big man, Howard will help speed up the growth of Mozgov and KK, and last but not least the Nuggets will automatically become the best team in the West.

    The Nuggets are a legit option for Howard to consider because of their team composition. Howard is not into the big market hype that Melo was interested in he wants to win. The Nuggets are very close and even if they trade those 5 or 6 players, they’d get even better not worse. No other team would be capable of that especially all the big market teams this year. If you survey the rest of the league, the Nuggets are the only team that has the pieces to trade for Howard without severely hampering their team. Any other team would end up having to trade away a bulk of their talent to get Howard but the Nuggets don’t. The Nene we see this year and have seen throughout his career is the same Nene that will always be, we know what he is. Howard despite being less skilled than Nene is most definitely an upgrade because we know he will give us 20 and 10 every night. Our interior defense will also dramatically improve with Howard. AAA so far this year is struggling both offensively AND defensively. He has also been making mental mistakes we haven’t seen from him and he seems to lack confidence.Unless he picks it up soon he will himself be expendable. Losing AAA will not hurt us either if we still have Rudy and Brewer. Rudy is more talented offensively than AAA and Brewer and AAA are about equally talented defensively, no loss their. The only problem might be if Orlando wants more than just Nene, AAA, Bird, Carroll, Hamilton and a pick we might have to trade either Rudy or Brewer. The reason I believe we should trade Rudy over Brewer is because we still need the perimeter defense that AAA provides. It would also complement the interior defense of Howard. With that said, we would have only one SG at that point but if we started Miller with Brewer as the backup, it would solve the problem. Stone would then be Lawson’s backup. Bird has no value to us anymore and Carroll and Hamilton never play. The Nuggets like Faried much more than Hamilton so I wouldn’t doubt they would consider trading him. When Chandler comes back, there will be minuted for him as you can start him at SG and return to Miller backing up Lawson. Andre has already mentioned that he may not be back here next season so if he starts that may change his mind but when Chandler comes back I can’t imagine they would keep starting Miller at the 2. If Miller does leave, Stone is Lawson’s backup.

    Their lineup would look like this:
    PG: Lawson/Stone
    SG: Miller/Brewer/Chandler (When he returns. If Andre isn’t here next season Chandler would start and Brewer would backup.)
    SF: Gallo/Al (You could slide him to SF because of his versatility over Faried right now)
    PF: *Howard/Faried
    C: *Mozgov/KK

    *You can alternate how you want the frontcourt to look like but I would assume they would play Howard at PF because he’s more versatile than Mozgov and KK at this point.

    2 Questions:
    Can you imagine Andre Miller/Ty Lawson and Dwight Howard? (Super Lob City)
    Which team in the West (or even the League) would contend with that team in the playoffs?

    • Aaron

      Woww Nice Post Man. I Pretty Much Agree With Everything U Said There, Exepet For The Brewer/Rudy, Id Rather Give Up Another 1st Rounder Before Those 2, Because We Need A Ligit Back-Up SG And Also (Like U Said) We Need Sum1 (Brewer) Who Can Guard A Durant Or A Kobe If We Would Give Up AAA. And Last Thing Id Rather See Howard At The C Cuz Hes More Of The Rebounding Big Strong Guy Down Low As For Mozgov He Could Hangouts More Mid-Range And Knock Down That Silky Smooth Jump Shot. Other Then That Good Post.

    • Vitaliy

      How do we know what Dwight Howard is interested in? Wouldn’t he have asked out of Orlando earlier if that was all he cared about. Yeah, it’d be great to have him and should do just about anything to get him, but there are a lot of teams that also are interested and may be more suited for his style. C’mon I don’t see Howard sprinting on fast breaks for any extended period of time.

      Also, Faried has a very limited offensive game at this point. Really, besides jumping very high and running toward the rim, he has severe limitations. Sure, he may be better than Bird (I’d assume he won’t jump at every single pump fake) but at least Bird plays center not PF where we have Nene and Harrington needing minutes.

  • Princewell Ahaneku

    Sorry about the grammatical mistakes, I kind of rushed the post.

    • Brad H.

      Princewell, you make it all sound so easy. Can you add Kobe to our lineup while you’re at it. Maybe LA would take AAA for him. There, now we have no weaknesses.

      Back to reality. Watching the Clips on ESPN. Any team in the NBA lookin better than this crew right now?

  • Ernie

    Dwight Howard is not coming to the Nuggets. Ever. He has said he’s only interested in the Knicks, Mavs or Clippers. There was a rumor about Chicago and that was quashed.

    I’m not sure why there is so much discussion about something that is not going to happen. Let’s please return to topics about this team that are possible. Thanks.

  • chronosynclastic infundibula

    I won’t waist my time talking about Howard. SG is our weakest position, weaker than center. This is why I hope Wilson Chandler will be resigned. I know he likes New York but maybe if we offered him the starting SG job he’d warm up to Denver rather than sitting behind Melo.

    As for shaving the depth, unload Bird and one of the guards Miller, AAA, or Rudy. I know that Miller is playing very well, but I’d rather have Lawson play those extra minutes without sacrificing the development of our shooting guards. If we resigned Chandler and unloaded Miller and Bird we could completely focus on the youth movement. Our team would be centered around Gallo, Ty, Nene, and Chandler with contributions from AAA, Rudy, Moz, KK, Faried, Stone and our veteran leader Big Al “Buckets” Harrington.

    • Ernie

      My memory from last year was that Chandler was an effective 3 but could not guard the 2s, so I don’t know if signing him solves any problems at SG.

      After signing AAA to a long term deal we just sort of need him to get better. Sad but true. Am hoping he’s got an injury that will improve and we aren’t stuck with another 4 years of this kind of effort.

  • eddi0

    I like what you’re throwing out Chrono Infund…I think people neglect to remember how good Chandler is (stat line Based on what I’ve seen of AAA this year he might be expendable with Chandler due back in April. A package of AAA, Miller (he’s leaving after season anyway), Bird, Hamilton, Moz, Rudy + plus picks for D12 and Duhon (need a experienced backup PG) might be a legit deal for both teams. I think we do need a roster shake-down just so we have a tighter 8-man rotation but a Dwight trade of any kind is very unlikely. Rudy and Brewer seem a lot hungrier than AAA this year so maybe a new venue might help him out. Having Chandler starting @ 2 and then bringing in Brewer/Rudy would give us some great depth at 2/3. Not sure who else we trade for but a shake-up might be necessary because we clearly are too inconsistent to compete with: OKC, MIA, CHI at this point.

    • Ernie

      Really, another trade idea for Dwight Howard? How about we invent a time machine and get Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon in their primes. That would solve our problems at SG and C. And both ideas have an equal chance of happening.

  • eddi0

    Ernie, chill man…if you read my post I said it “is very unlikely”, but a guy can dream can’t he? I’m not sure who we trade for but we clearly have the assets to make our core 8 man rotation tighter with a few tweaks. Any “non-Dwight” trade scenarios are welcome as well.

    • Ernie

      It was 2 spots and a few hours after I begged the board for no more Dwight Howard trade thoughts. Sorry it was you.

  • Dan

    Why trade anyone for a first round when GK is still here. He won’t play them enough to make an immediate difference. It’s a good thing that Karl wasn’t here when Melo wasn’t a rookie. I would give Faried some more quality minutes instead of garbage time. The guy can get rebounds… Nene can when he feels up to it. KK can as well. KK should be starting over Mozgov. Bird, he can fly away. AAA should be benched.

    • Charlie

      The Nuggets shouldn’t be selling off draft picks because of George Karl. The fact that Faried isn’t getting minutes or helping the team yet doesn’t mean acquiring him was a bad idea. Ditto on Hamilton. You have to put the blame on Karl for getting nothing out of Faried and Hamilton this year but the fact is he has too many other options to even consider giving them time.

      I think if Karl had a different roster the rookies would be getting time. When I look at the problems on this roster going forward Masai and Josh have to step in and protect the Nuggets long term future if that is their goal.

  • james from australia

    Anderson Varejao could be a decent pursuit. I don’t think we should re-sign Chandler, Brewer has a lot of upside and was born to be a reserve on a team like Denver (high flying offence, defensive issues)

  • Mark from Charlotte

    GK needs to play Faried, Brewer, and KK in the 4THQ of games because. The Nuggets need rebounding and defense out the end of games. Birdman needs to be waived ASAP and AAA needs to get benched because of his lack of productivity.

  • Mark from Charlotte

    GK needs to play Faried, Brewer, and KK more in the 4thQ. The Nuggets need more rebounding and defense at the end of games. Birdman needs to waived ASAP and AAA needs to benched for his lack of productivity.

  • evan


    The problem was they felt as if they had the game won no matter what. So did I watching it. They were thinking about the clippers rematch not Memphis.

    The only player that knew the situation was Miller.
    It’s more of a young, unexperienced problem, not a depth problem

  • Khalid

    Chris Kaman from NO we have a few trade exceptions so maybe a package of Mozgov Bird and a pick for Kaman as he is already being shopped!

  • Brad H.

    Wow, Charlie, I think nearly everyone completely forgot about the points you were making in your post today. Seems you stirred up the trade dreamers’ lust for blowing up the Nuggets. So, about your argument: Is there too much depth here? Not at all. The basis and reason you wrote this article was because of Karl’s early-season remark that the first 20ish games were going to be the Nugs’ training camp in this weird lockout season. And now that we’re 21 games into the season you’re observation is that GK does not yet have a clear or reliable 8 or 9 guy rotation. And after two straight losses there’s that little hint of panic. You’re observations are good, but the basis of your argument – the Nugs not gelling after 20 games – may be accurate but it’s way too early to panic. So George thought it may take 20 games. It was an early guess. His guess at the number of games it may take was off. Maybe it’ll take 30 games, maybe 40, for GK to figure it out. Who cares, as long as he figures it out (and he usually does) while winning 67% of his games (as he is now) and gets the Nugs into the playoffs (like he always has).

    • Charlie

      Brad, I agree about the team being fine and making the playoffs. The question I am asking is why aren’t small steps being taken to figure out who deserves to be playing to who doesn’t. The reasoning is this team will get to the playoffs and still have no idea who to play.

      It’s concerning is all. The Nuggets get healthy and they play 11 guys in Memphis with really bad results. They have to start making progress on who is going to be playing together so the Denver Nuggets players can prosper and develop in their roles. Playing a guy 30 minutes then 5 minutes isn’t helping them get any better.

      • evan

        Memphis is a really good team, and so are the clippers…
        both of the games the Nuggets were in, and were very close.

        So I have a few questions to think about: Why does it always have to be The Nuggets fault? can we give other teams credit for playing a good game? Are the Nuggets really that big of a step ahead of everyone else in the league that they should never get beaten? Should they really be so ridiculed for playing two very close games against good teams?

        My point is, you win some, you lose some. Sure there are reasons, but no team is perfect. Personally, at 14-7 I wouldn’t change a thing to the Nuggets roster. Something seems to be working. Last year I would have been stoked seeing the Nuggets consistently ranked in the top 5 in the league, and contending for the top spot in the west.

        But then again, I guess the blog wouldn’t be worth reading if all it did was glorify the Nuggets. Gotta mix a little conspiracy in here and there.

        • Brad H.

          Nice post, Evan. Good reminder. Nonetheless, Championship or bust, baby! Bad playoff habits are born in the reg season.

          • evan

            I completely agree, but no team can go undefeated, even our beloved nuggets!

        • Charlie

          Evan, I phrased that wrong and I certainly agree with you that Memphis deserves tons of credit for their win.

          All I’m saying is that the lack of a rotation to build on is a real issue. Karl shortens up the rotation in big games (like NYK) and then he goes an plays 11 different guys against Memphis. It’s clear he doesn’t know what to do and the players confidence is suffering for it.

          The Nuggets are going to lose some games this year. I’m not worried about that. I said in my post that their record is fine and regular season wins don’t concern me.

          The idea is to get better as the season goes on. Hopefully, by going through a long season every player on the Nuggets gains confidence and improves their game. Guys want to know what’s expected of them every night and how to fit into a winning role.

          If that doesn’t happen, the playoffs don’t look good. It’s time to take the first step towards doing something about this and bench someone. We can’t keep ignoring this problem because the Nuggets have won some regular season games.

      • Brad H.

        Charlie, so you think GK might be messing with some of the players’ confidence a bit? As you said in your post, something like players are creatures of habit, they need to see consistent minutes to play up to their potential . . . do you see how this is a no-win circular argument? A classic Catch 22. Give guys more minutes so they play up to their potential . . . but give other guys more minutes to see how they might fit into the rotation. Like you commented to Kalen below, there just aren’t enough minutes to go around. GK has a difficult, but enviable task. I agree with you however: Even though I’m a GK apologist most of the time, if he doesn’t figure this out sometime before the playoffs we’re gonna be trapped in mediocrity with a bunch of avg to >avg players who don’t know their roles. These next 3 nights (back2back2back) will tell us a LOT. If the Nugs don’t win at least 2 of these 3, and if GK rotates only 7 or 8 guys and LOSES at least 2 of the 3 — then I’ll be stepping on a bandwagon decrying some stubborness issues that GK has to address if this team is going to amount to anything this year. I’m still in Tucson and haven’t watched any Nugs games since Jan 25. Thank God the next 2 games are nationally televised- and thank you, C, K & K for keeping me so well informed while I’ve been away from Denver town.

        • Aaron

          Ay Brad If u Wanna Watch Some Nugget Games Then Go To They Usually Have Nugget Games On Their Website. So Ya Just Letting Ya Know If Ya Wanna Watch Any Of There Games. i Dont Have Altitude So i Have To Watch Nugget Games On There, Its a Pretty Kewl Site.

          • evan


            • Brad H.

              Thanks Aaron. I’ll check it out.

    • ParkHillNative

      “Who cares, as long as he figures it out (and he usually does) while winning 67% of his games (as he is now) and gets the Nugs into the playoffs (like he always has).”

      Well, the thing for me is this: Winning 66% of the games and making the playoffs again isn’t good enough, if the Nugs are just going to lose in the first round again.

      I’d rather see just about anything besides another first round playoff loss. Are there Nuggets fans out there who would be happy with the same outcome this year as most of the last 8?

      The problems Charlie is talking about seem to me like they have a lot to do with this team’s chances at playoff success, and I think in that light, they’re very relevant concerns.

      • Brad H.

        ParkHill, of course we don’t want a first round exit, and Charlie does make some very good points. Bad playoff habits are born in the reg season. But you can’t dream of a Championship if you dont get to the playoffs, man. None of us know if GK is gonna figure out a reliable rotation come April. It’s simply a very difficult conundrum for GK to figure out so far, because the players he is relying on to be consistent just aren’t! Such as Nene steps up and shows some consistent aggressiveness, then Gallo tanks; Nene goes soft, and Gallo catches fire, etc. The only consistent player we’ve had this season has been AAA . . . consistently off! And yet, GK has put this thing together pretty well for 14 out of 21 games. I’ll take that, and I’ll commend the coach for a darn good job so far. I think his biggest test so far this season begins tonight and ends Sat night – 3 huge WC games B2B2B. GK, in my opinion has to show that he can win a couple of these games. Personally I don’t care what rotations he uses, as long as the Nugs win. It sure would be nice, I think we’d all agree, if GK could make good use of guys deep on our bench to accomplish at least 2 wins after Portland on Sat.

  • Kalen

    I don’t really believe in this notion of too much depth. I understand where you’re coming from Charlie, but to me it’s like complaining about having too many big men — there isn’t such a thing. I think more than anything Karl just needs to work his rotations better. I’ve never understood his logic about giving one guy more minutes as apposed to cutting back a few and giving them to other guys.

    Lawson, Gallo and Nene should be playing 30-plus minutes every night. Al, Miller, Brewer, Afflalo and Rudy should all get about 20-25; then Mozgov, Birmdan, Koufos, Faried and Stone about 10-15.

    Not to beat a dead horse (or whatever that saying is) but I think the lack of Faried is hurting the most. The fact of the matter is, defense is the one thing killing this team right now and Faried could help out tremendously. We all saw what Tony Allen did the other night. If not for him the Nuggets would have won by a landslide. Faried has the ability to make that type of impact and plus, he’s just FLAT OUT BETTER than Mozgov, Koufos or Birdman right now. It’s as simple as that. Sure, he’s a rookie and he’ll make a few mistakes, but my goodness there is NO WAY he’ll make more than Mozgov, Koufos and Birdman already are! Plus, he’ll get better faster! I bet Faried would be killing it by the end of the year if he saw consistent playing time.

    Mark my words: Putting him into the rotation would do wonders for this team.

    • Charlie

      Count the minutes, there aren’t nearly enough for all those guys to play. AAA, Rudy, Miller, Brewer all getting 20+ minutes? How?

      As far as the bigs go, I had faith in seeing Faried play because Masai did a great job drafting him and it seemed like they were invested in developing him into a player. Now we are 21 games in. With Harrington having his solid season, I now no longer believe Faried plays this year. I juts can’t imagine it.

      The playoffs come around and Gallo/Lawson will probably push 40 minutes. Then, who else plays? Somebody has to not play at all

    • Aaron

      Only Way Faried Plays is If Mozgov, KK, Harrington, And Nene Get Injured…Get The Point?? He WONT Play 10 Meaningful Seconds This Year. But Man, i Really Hope Im Wrong.

    • Andrew

      Agree, and not to put words in your mouth, but I think you are saying the players in the 20-25 bucket should be getting those minutes depending on how they are playing that night. That’s the beauty of depth…you can go with the hot hand. Generally speaking, though, I agree with the folks on here saying Karl should think about starting Rudy, just to shake AAA up. Something wrong there. He just doesn’t look like the same player since he injured that hammie last year.

      Not that karl would ever do it, but I also agree the Nuggs will need to involve the young talent more if they are going t do anything in the playoffs:
      Starters: Ty, Rudy/AAA (figure out who’s playing better in the first and ride that horse for the game), Nene, K2/Moz (figure out who’s playing better in the first and then ride that horse for the game), Gallo.
      First off bench and good minutes: Al, Miller, Brewer, Faried, AAA.
      Next off bench, limited minutes: Birdman, Stone, Hamilton.

      • Charlie

        How would you decide who is playing well that night… it’s impossible to give everyone a fair shot. I guess you have to hold a competition in practice before the game to decide who plays? Or do you play one guy and if he misses his first two shots immediately pull him – that doesn’t make much sense to me.

        I’m sorry but if you expect the Nuggets players to develop and improve, you need to play them and show some confidence in them. The “hot hand” argument leaves you with a rotation of inconsistent players night in and night out

  • chronosynclastic infundibula

    And by playing Faried at Center Karl could continue his small balls! I would like to see more Faried too, but maybe in the forward spots with Nene at center. I think that the only way this would happen is if they traded your MAN Al Buckets.

    I think that its odd that people think Brewer and Chandler are comparable. Chandler is light years better than Cory Brewer. Brewer is more on the level with AAA while Chandler is on the level with Gallo and Lawson. Chandler is a streaky shooter, but his defense is solid. Furthermore, Chandler’s jump shot is looking as awesome as ever here in China. The only thing that scares me about Chandler is his alleged dislike of Denver. I’m hoping that its not true that maybe he just wants to start rather than playing behind Gallo. That is why I hope that they offer Chandler the starting SG spot!

    I will shut up about Chandler finally

    • eddi0

      Nah, Chrono, I don’t think a lot of us that follow the Western Conference realize how good Chandler is (particularly defensively). I’ve watched many Knicks games when he was there and many nights he was by far the best player on the court. Definitely a step over Brewer and Rudy and about a half-step up over AAA because of his offense. I don’t think we can keep AAA and Chandler since they are both starting caliber players however so the Nugs will have to think this one out once Wilson gets back to the states. We are very deep at 2/3 with him coming back so something’s gotta give.

  • Diehardnr1

    So you want to take away the advantage of having a really deep team? And for D12?

    Problem is not depth…it is Defense and the lack of anyone (besides Miller to my dismay) stepping up as the “go to” guy. Karl tried to push this on AAA late in the MEM game and AAA just looked lost and out of synch. Then he tried Miller, who looked great…right up to the point that his driving Lawson impression resulted in a blocked shot time and again.

    As much as I hate to say it…this team needs a Melo… Someone who can take over the offensive responsibities late in games. I would rather see Gallo or Buckets ISO late games…instead of the current 10 passes and 24 sec violation or watching Miller take on 4 defenders with no thought of passing to the wide open wing… Hard to develop a closer if you never tell someone that they are that guy Karl.

    Forget D12….Start Koufos, stick with Gallo (I remember quite a few games Melo was 1 for 10, etc and then became Mr Automatic late game or OT….give Gallo the same chance and be smarter with rotation so that Nuggs have already either worn out opponents or built a huge lead. ps Play Faried when Nuggz are getting killed on the glass late games…the 2 offensive rebounds and resulting 3 were the back breakers…Ken SkyWalker might have gotten that first or second rebound…just saying…

  • evan

    As far as “defense being the problem” I disagree. The ppg stat is skewed by their pace, and In reality the nuggets play really tough defense. People that say defense is the problem don’t watch the nuggets or the NBA. It’s the NBA, offense has the advantage, there will be some plays that look ugly, no matter who you are, and it seems people harp on those one or two playes a game, rather then the multiple possessions. Granted, they’re not the best defensive team in the league, but it’s no where near the problem.

    I believe if anything, the nuggets are just a little inexperienced, blow leads and relax too much/take teams for granted(a by-product of Karl’s attitude) -witch is why Miller is essential. Also in the end of games the lack of a go-to scorer isn’t the problem, it’s playing like you have one. The nuggets play as if they have one, go ISO with a player instead of moving the ball, witch is what gives them success. As a player on the court you’re accustom to this and anything else seems wrong. Also, a lot of times there simply isn’t enough time on the clock to run a play, but on this Nuggets team with 10sec left is the more logical. Though that may seem unorthodox, the nuggets have an unorthodox team. (Kind of ironic because they’re said to play basketball the “right way”, witch is currently “the wrong way” in today’s world.)

    I digress.
    Go Nuggets, clip some clipper ass tonight.

    • evan

      More logical to find the open man*

  • Khalid

    With Miller planning on leaving in free agency to attempt to start again what do you see the chances of Billups returning. He could start at the 2 as he is doing in LA or back up the 1 and 2. Maybe the relationship is strained but he could fit the go to 4th quarter guy possibly.

  • Khalid

    With Miller planning on leaving in free agency to attempt to start again what do you see the chances of Billups returning. He could start at the 2 as he is doing in LA or back up the 1 and 2. Maybe the relationship is strained but he could fit the go to 4th quarter guy possibly. And D12 is absolutely unneeded!

  • Trevor

    Minutes are in high demand for Nugget players, lets see how Karl spends them. I like stats so I compiled some. This is the percentage of playing time that Karl gives our players in games they play.
    Formula: (total Mins/GP)/240mins

    Lawson 14%
    Galo 14%
    Nene 13%
    Miller 13%
    AAA 12.5%
    Al Buckets 11%
    Rudy 10%
    Moz 7%
    Brewer 7%
    Bird 5.5%
    KK 4.5%

    This list adds up to more than 100% which makes sense when you consider DNPs. Ex: KK has played 14 games and in those 14 Karl has played him 153 mins. (153/14)/240=.0455. Maximum minute allocation per player is 20% of teams total.

  • Dubz

    The overall use of depth during the course of the game isn’t my primary concern. It’s which lineup GK chooses to field during crunch time that worries me. As of right now, Afflalo doesn’t deserve 30+ minutes. I love Afflalo, but he’s been a major liability in several games this year. He’s been trying to do too much on his own without working into the flow of the game. Noah on the Bulls recently said that his new large contract contributed to his poor play because he felt that he needed to live up to the contract. The reality is, he just needs to play his game. The same goes for Afflalo. He’s at his best when his fantastic defense leads to open 3’s, which leads to open lanes, which leads to FT’s. Right now he’s trying to squeeze through lanes that aren’t there and shoot 3’s that aren’t open. I hope he figures it out, but right now Brewer deserves his minutes in crunch time. Especially when we have the Nene, Harrington, Lawson, Miller combination. Brewer’s length can chip in on rebounding and defense.

  • Mark from Charlotte

    GK needs to figure out his rotation in crunch time. Nene and Afflalo need to step up. $$$$$$ hint hint.

  • trevor

    I don’t want to be the one naysayer here but no, you’re all very wrong. Firstly and most importantly, you can’t say players aren’t satisfied with their minutes when they are enthusiastically saying the opposite.
    The players are just as behind the team first idea as anyone. While it may not be his best, you are blatantly wrong in saying its Andre Miller’s worst statistical season. He is the reason we lead the NBA in assists, and gives us the ability to be successful in the halfcourt and slow down the pace, a crucial ability come playoff time. I agree that Ty and Gallo may have two of the clearer roles (also including Nene, Andre, and Harrington in that list) but disagree that the others don’t. Rudy is blossoming as a three point shooter, solid perimeter defender, and an additional X-factor guy that can’t be covered if on the court with Ty and Corey at the same time. Mozgov is finding his niche as a good rebounder and touch shooter in the post, usually towering over an inadequate defender when Nene atracts the more athletic one. Kosta is improving and has come away with more than 10 rebounds a couple times this year but has not been asked to fill a real roll except when Nene has been injured. Corey Brewer is a former NCAA finals mvp, fast as hell, scrappy on defense, and can go for 10-15 points and 6 (surprisingly) rebounds consistently but is fine playing defense as well. Aaron is an incredible defensive guard that can surprise you on offense but feels no pressure to do so. The eratic nature of our scoring is not worrisome, mostly because its nowhere near as eratic as any of you say. You are looking at the incredible fluctuations with who leads us in scoring from night to night and by how much they lead. Not a big deal. We are past the Melo era, get over the importance of the top scorer. Look at the averages. We have six guys averaging double figures. AVERAGING DOUBLE FIGURES. While this article is well written and has arguments that make sense on theory, the axioms upon which the conclusions are based are completely false. I just checked this blog out on a friend’s recommendation but have been utterly disappointed with most (not all) of the people here’s basketball knowledge (and simple logic). Example of the logical fallacy: “more often than not, the nuggets depth has been a curse rather than a blessing.” That quote is laughable. 14 wins (blessings) and 7 losses (curses) is the opposite of more often than not. I’m going back to Denver Stuffs.

    • Trevor

      I’d just like to say not all Trevors are tools like the one above. Felt the need to separate myself from that little episode of dbaggery as he and I both post under the same name. Love the blog peace.