On Chandler’s return and Karl’s distribution of minutes

To preface, let me just say that I’m working with merely a two-game sample size thus far. As more information comes in, which is to say as more games are played, this picture will come into sharper focus.

That said, what has quickly come abundantly clear since Wilson Chandler’s recent return to action is that Karl intends to deploy him heavily in the regular rotation. At least in the ballpark, that is, of players such as Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee. He’s unquestionably in the mix.

For those Nuggets fans who were looking forward to seeing increased minutes from the likes of Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier and Julyan Stone as the season deepened and their development progressed, I’m afraid you (we) may have to put those hopes to rest. It would appear that Karl has his guys.

Notwithstanding a trade that removes current rotation players from the roster, based on what we’ve seen so far we should expect the minutes of deeper bench players to evaporate altogether. George Karl is a creature of habit. His apparent aim – and he seems already to be working towards it – is to pare the regular rotation down to a tight nine players.

In actuality, he’d probably prefer to make in eight, but the dilution and diversity of talent, along with the depth of the roster, make that practically impossible.

Here is how, on average, the minutes have shaken down since Chandler’s return (adjusted for overtime):

This will not be an entirely static picture. In all likelihood, Chandler will soon be receiving a large enough share of minutes to bypass Koufos and Brewer. And among any of the players who are within the same tier in the distribution, minor shifts will be ongoing. Lawson could move slightly past Gallinari, for example, but both will remain in the top two or three.

More importantly, though, is that in the larger picture Karl looks to have tipped his hand and shown us the 9-man core rotation he intends to ride from here on out and into the playoffs barring trades and injuries. More than likely, this all was settled in his mind well before Chandler’s recovery, and he’s just now implementing the team he’d been planning for since before training camp.

I admittedly am reading a lot of information between very few tenuous lines, and it will take some time for the reality of Karl’s minutes distribution to unfold. In the meantime I’ll keep tracking the data and, after more games have been played, update the above table so we can see if this projection holds water.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • airvaid

    Why exactly are 248 minutes allotted when playing time is only 240 minutes?

  • airvaid

    My bad. OT adjusted.

  • https://twitter.com/denbutsu Joel

    No, not your bad, you were right. I did initially post a mistaken table. Had my spreadsheet formula tweaked wrong, and didn’t catch my mistake until after I’d posted it.

  • Ernie

    I feel like Karl like’s Chandler because he looks like he should be such a good player. He’s big for a guard who should be able to defend, he has a good looking stroke. But for whatever reason he’s not terribly efficient and his shooting % is below average from 2 and 3.

    And as much as I hate not playing Stone and Hamilton, teams do better with 8-9 men rotations. Players respond best when they know their roles.

  • Larry

    Would you prefer to see Brewer get more minutes – or Chandler?

    • Dubz

      Chandler without question. However, Brewer can play the 2 while it’s a misconception that Chandler will play SG. He’s a SF/PF and Karl will use him accordingly. Brewer is a FANTASTIC energy guy off the bench but his effectiveness diminishes drastically with every minute he plays after 20. He’s a brilliant 15-20 mpg guy who does just about everything. Chandler however, is definitely good enough to be a starting SF on a large number of NBA teams. I’m betting he gets even a little more useage than Miller as the season progresses. Look for him to land in the 25-28 mpg range.

  • z

    Ernie cant be watching basketball stop number crunching WC plays defense and sure there’s a bad shot here and there but he rebounds and defends at 3 diff positions PLEASE TRADE CHANDLER these computer nerds dont know anything about basketball

    • Ernie

      Chandler defends three different positions but only defends the 3’s well, he isn’t quick enough for the 2s and isn’t big enough for the 4s. And don’t blame me because you aren’t intelligent enough to understand efficiency.

  • z

    Ernie i blame you for not knowing basketball lol im intelligent enough to know that

    • Ernie

      I love the posters that insult without facts and don’t understand grammer. What a waste of time.

  • z

    but WC out tonight so enjoy your Nuggets lets hope Stone and Hamilton get these mins WC doesnt need to get lol just keep up with that efficiency for me there buddy

  • Dave

    Feel bad for Hamilton, especially. Like you suggest, he’d probably continue to develop with minutes and he looks to have what it takes from 3…something the Nuggets need far more of.

    • Ackdog

      Jordan hamilton should be in the “D” league. No time to develop him in the NBA. That is reserved for big men of the 7′ category

  • http://yahoo.com prospector

    I have been thinking my problem w/Chandler is primarily that he gets paid too much cash, and I think JHAM has far more upside in his game… The reason for my anger is KARL’s rotations…. They are horrible and a high school coach could do a better job.. Last night Iggy and Andre Miller should have been on the bench i crunch time… Wilson could have filled in for iggy, and KK for Miller with a lineup of KK, Faried, Gallo, Wilson, and Lawson… You would have 3 scorers that can penertrate off the dribble, and pass.. With Faried & KK there would be better spacing on the court, and lot’s of opportunity for KK lay-ups…. Teams would keep a man on Faried, Gallo, and Lawson… This would leave openings for Chandler to do his thing (& hopefully learn how to dump a pass inside to his bigs)…. We would have won by double figures last night… But my friends this will never happen… NEVER… Because Karl is a freaking idiot, and will never, ever, ever, ever change… Andre Miller & Lawson should never be on the floor together.. You hear me .. NEVER… Why do we have Point Fowards like Iggy & Gallo if we are never going to utilize that skill?? I guess when Pippen was kicking Karl’s backside, he didn’t learn his lesson… Yo KARL this isn’t seattle…… DO YOU HEAR ME?? And your precious Seattle got punked by Chicago and THE NUGGETS….. And you are still rolling out the same small ball b/s… Karl you are pathetic.. You will never win a ring.. Never.. And you know what? You are far from the smartest guy in the room… But the are the most stubborn.. Congrats of being the big alltime winner in a league of re-tread coaches with no imagination.. Hard to believe you can coach 29 years in anything without at least one ring… Maybe it’s because your small ball lineups are terrible… Thanks Joshy & Masai for leaving us stunk in the endless loop of mediocrity… And please have mercy on JHAM and Stone, let those guys go.. Before the are ruined by the “mastermind” Karl.

    • Thomas

      Right on.

      While we have GK, it’s naive to be optimistic and it sucks to be an objective fan.

  • ryanvdonk

    while this might be the best two game stretch of wilson’s nuggets career (3rd partial season here, so that’s saying something) it’s ridiculous how karl treats his players. hamilton makes one mistake on the court and he won’t see the floor for a week. chandler shows to be a mediocre shooter, fades away under pressure (remember what happened against the thunder?) and is more fragile that your grandma’s fine china. yes he plays defense well, yes he has the body to be a force getting to the rim, but he has shown no consistency since coming to this team. yet despite this, karl puts him right into the rotation with consistent minutes fresh off his latest trip from the injured list.

    so the precedent is set, other than a select few players, one’s who look to develop under karl WILL NOT SEE PLAYING TIME, while ones who developed elsewhere will. honestly this team is a little too deep, and the ones who suffer are the young players who need experience the most, maybe a trade is in order, where we get rid of like 3 of our guys for one really good player (and maybe someone who’s filler/bad expiring contract).

  • CJP32

    There are 42 games left in the season, and one thing we haven’t seen yet (besides Chandler) is an injury to one of our starting 5. Gallo missed one game and so did Tyson. However, all it takes is a significant injury to one of our Top 8 and the minutes are all thrown out again.

    Chandler back means players lose minutes, but it’s the starters GK should be worrying about. They need to be healthy and ready for the Playoffs. Also, Andre Miller should not be playing 25 mpg for the rest of the year, I would expect that to drop to 20-23. Sure Brew will lose mins, maybe he plays 18-22 now.

    JHam, Mozzy, AR, Stone and Evan will most likely play in garbage time.

  • Tom

    They’re playing Chandler to increase his trade value. He doesn’t want to be here, and I don’t think the Nuggets really want him either.

  • Jim

    I agree his bromance with andre miller is excessive, and he overvalues certain traits in his players (like bball “iq”) but he’s not an idiot. Karl’s Sonics got punked by Chicago? Right. I grew up in Illinois watching Jordan and the Phil Jackson teams. No team in the last 50 years was beating them. Nothing to do with GK getting punked.

    I bet many of the odd lineup choices last night have more to do with challenging b2b in okc tonight. I don’t expect to see javale closing out OT tonight. More KK and manimal. It’s not sexy choice but it is “coaching”.

    I don’t really get why Jham should be getting more minutes just because. What has he shown when he has played to warrant being the answer? Or stone? I like them, I just don’t see the major increase in value added compared to miller, or a slumping iggy playing through a shit night or brewer tearing things up. It seems to me gk makes decisions to maximize a certain bad for a certain good. Doesn’t make him an idiot. Stuck in his ways sure…what nba coach isn’t?

    It’d be interesting to see if Jham could make a difference with more minutes but I bet we’d still see a shooter taking some bad shots while making some good shots. Same as lots of other players. What would we learn? Or gain?

  • Z

    Still feel the Nuggets need to move Chandler and A.I. build around Gallo, Ty, and Faried although Faried struggles with Size most nights his hustle gets him by.
    coach Karl is never gone give up on his small ball closing line-ups