According to blogger Mark Travis, it looks like JR Smith will continue to ride the pine at the start of games despite previous reports. It seemed inevitable after JR’s breakout season last year and Dahntay leaving to the Pacers for more money, that JR would be the starter.
In talking to Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl at today’s NBA Summer League action, Karl stated to me that Smith will be coming off the bench for the Nuggets next season. Karl cited a lack of improvement maturity wise on the part of Smith as the reason for him coming off the pine. Though, Coach Karl also stated that starting didn’t mean anything to him, but it is more of a mental thing for a player if they were given the starter label.
This shouldn’t affect his production at all, but hopefully he can handle it mentally. JR is still going to get his minutes and points but hopefully George can continue to trust JR with the offense. With the lack of JR in the starting lineup, who would be the starter? Weems has played well in the summer league but doesn’t have any real experience and was terrible when he got playing time last year. Ty Lawson is a rookie and George is notorious for not playing his rookies. Maybe Linas Kleiza? If he can rebound from last year, it could work, but he’s more of a 3 guard anyways and can’t consistently make the 3 ball. Aaron Afflalo? No way, he can’t just come into a new offense and run it right away. Plus he’s not much of a shooter.
Projected Lineup (assuming no JR):
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Linas Kleiza
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kenyon Martin