Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen. Those players average a combined 268 minutes per game. In case you were wondering there are only 240 minutes in a regulation NBA game and that 268 figure is using the current rate of zero minutes a game from the two recent additions of McGee and Chandler. Add in Chandler’s 30.6 minutes a game as a Nugget last season and McGee’s 27.4 as a Wizard this year and that number jumps up to 326 minutes a game.
Again, there are only 240 minutes available in a regulation game. Either the Nuggets are going to have to have Buffalo Wild Wings operatives pushing their games into multiple overtimes, or there are going to be some disgruntled players.
With a completely healthy roster, George Karl is going to have a very difficult time managing everyone’s minutes. In a normal season where only 12 players can be active one of those players listed above would not even be active. Despite the fact they are saved making the decision of who to deactivate two or three players who are used to playing are going to have to sit.
Starting with the five starters it is obvious that Lawson, Afflalo, Gallo, Faried and Mozgov will be playing. Karl favorites Miller and Harrington will be on the court. Chandler will certainly play as will McGee. At this point there is room for a backup shooting guard and it is most likely that Fernandez will get the nod over Brewer, who is more of a small forward anyway. That would leave Brewer, Koufos and Birdman watching from the sideline.
Those three should be no surprise as Karl has shown a tendency to keep them plastered to the bench at times this season anyway. Financially those three also make sense as the Nuggets control their rights next season (and beyond for Birdman and Koufos). You do not need to worry about any of them asking to be traded. If they do, none carry the gravitas to make it happen. The sad thing is statistically Mozgov really should be fourth on the center depth chart sporting a PER well below McGee, Birdman and Koufos.
Above and beyond who is benched and who sees their minutes slashed there may be a larger issue brewing to keep an eye on. We may very well see a serious disconnect between the front office and George Karl.
As Charlie has pointed out repeatedly it certainly appears the front office was content to trade Nene due to the sensational play of rookie Kenneth Faried. They also will have to make a decision on JaVale McGee this summer. They need to see him in plenty of game action.
George Karl has been adamant that the Nuggets were a contender last season and he has roundly rejected the “Denver needs a closer” argument. In order to prove his point he wants to prove this similar version to last season’s team is a contender. That means the short term is far more important to him than the long term.
For all of his talents, Faried makes plenty of defensive mental errors. McGee is also well known for his defensive foibles. The goal of the front office is going to be to get these players a lot of minutes while Karl is going to want to get his trusted veterans minutes because he is desperate for this team to prove his point about last season’s team. Karl will be able to find plenty of excuses to limit the minutes of Faried and McGee. If he does so, it is possible we could see some frustration with Karl from management.
It will be fascinating to see how these final 21 games play out, as well as how Karl manages the rotation in the playoffs. Karl likes to say the first 20 games of the season are an extension of training camp. Well, he has an extended training camp’s worth of games to figure out who should be on the court when the games become the “best of seven”.
Go ahead and leave your preferred lineup and depth chart in the comments RMC readers.