After all of the coming and going with the Carmelo Anthony-trade in February, the draft day moves and seven free agents, the Denver Nuggets starting lineup may look significantly different next year.
It is pretty apparent that there will be at least one new starter, but there is a chance that there could be as many as four new faces in the starting lineup. However, nobody will know for sure until the NBA Lockout comes to a conclusion which may take a while. But there are a number of ways the Nuggets can go.
Nene isn’t an NBA center, even though he has done a solid job filling in over the previous three seasons. There is a chance, but not likely, that he could start back in the middle next season too. Even before he can be considered an option the Nuggets have to resign him.
Currently, Timofey Mozgov is being discussed as the most likely starting center for the Nuggets. He started 14 games in New York and averaged 5 points and 3.7 rebounds. He also went for 23 points and 14 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons in a starting role.
There is no doubt that he is the front runner for the job and the Nuggets think really highly of the soon to be 25-year-old. He is a misleading athlete, a solid rebounder and could develop into a pretty good scorer in the NBA. He still fouls too much and there are still questions of how good of a shot blocker he will be in the NBA, but he did block 25 shots in 45 games.
The dark horse at center is Kosta Koufos. Most fans tend to overlook him and see him as little more than a bench player. However, he was the Nuggets biggest and youngest players and when he played last season he did well. He is very skilled for a 22-year-old and has a surprisingly good work ethic. He may not be as athletic as Mozgov, but he has very refined post skills. George Karl went as far as saying Koufos (who would have been a senior in college last season) would have been a lottery pick if he was in this draft. Take that for what it is. If he outworks Mozgov in training camp there is a chance he gets the starting nod.
Don’t forget that Koufos did close out the season with three straight games with double-digit points – despite averaging only 21 minutes. It also including an 18 and 9 game against Golden State in 19 minutes. In those three games, he shot 64 percent.
Some fans may wonder why Chris ‘The Birdman’ Andersen isn’t considered at starter, but the Birdman is better used as an energy role off the bench.
The Nuggets dream duo would be to start Nene at power forward and Mozgov at center. But that idea remains in doubt until Nene resigns.
If Nene doesn’t come back, there is a chance that the Nuggets resign Kenyon Martin (who also is a free agent) and he comes back as the starting power forward. But again, that isn’t likely unless Martin resigns for less money or the Nuggets offer him more.
David West is an option, especially if the Nuggets lose Nene. He won’t help on the glass or on defense, but he is a good scorer. He averaged 18.9 points last season and has a career average of 16.4. His best attribute is his consistent midrange jumper that spreads the defense. West won’t be much help on defense, especially since he is 30 (turning 31 in August) and is coming off of a knee injury.
Rookie Kenneth Faried is another option, especially if he comes into Denver with the same motor that led Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament and past Louisville. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Faried start at power forward and Nene starts at Center (or Mozgov if Nene doesn’t return). Especially if Faried impresses the coaches in training camp, but don’t expect the rookie to play any more than 20 minutes.
Restricted free agent Wilson Chandler seems like the most likely candidate at power forward. Karl is really high on him and likes his versatility and if the Nuggets lose Nene, Chandler is next player they want to keep (after Arron Afflalo, of course). Chandler can play three positions and there is a chance the Nuggets play small ball with him at the 4 next to Mozgov.
Like Birdman, Al Harrington probably won’t be considered for the starting role. Karl isn’t a fan of his game, but does likes having scoring spark off the bench.
Like Anthony before him, Danilo Gallinari is undoubtedly the Nuggets starting small forward. The only thing the Nuggets are looking for is how much Gallinari grows and if he reaches the potential that the Nuggets coaching staff is expecting from him.
If Chandler comes back he could be a spot starter or even the Nuggets top bench player. Again, that is if he comes back.
Unless Jordan Hamilton has an amazing training camp he’ll be a bench player – if he plays.
It is almost said in stone that restricted free agent Arron Afflalo will return to the Nuggets and not only be the starting shooting guard – but also the Nuggets captain and leader.
Now in the chance that a team pays Afflalo a lot more than the Nuggets are willing to offer (ALOT MORE), then Denver could – but not likely – resign J.R. Smith and have the explosive and talented, also erratic, shooting guard start. Again not likely.
If Afflalo leaves the Nuggets will then turn to Chandler and give him the starting nod – much like he did when Afflalo was hurt last season.
Another option is the Nuggets could work out a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia (if Nene wants to sign there) and get Andre Iguodala in return.
Other options are Caron Butler, Anthony Parker and Jason Richardson. But again expect Afflalo to stay in Denver and be the Nuggets shooting guard.
As of right now, Ty Lawson is penciled in as the Nuggets starting point guard. And that is the only way Nuggets fans would have it.
Denver did add Andre Miller, and as much as Nuggets fans may not like (and Lawson himself), but Miller may take over the starting point guard this next season. He’s consistent, smart and a veteran. No doubt, Karl is going to look at him as the Nuggets Jason Kidd. And another method to the madness is with Lawson’s speed and skills, he may be more useful off the bench.
But nobody knows for sure, but everything points to Lawson starting and Miller backing him up and also being on the floor in the closing minutes.
Lots of different ways it can go, but nothing can be for certain until the lockout ends.
Tags: Al Harrington Andre Iguodala Andre Miller Arron Afflalo Birdman Carmelo Anthony Chris Andersen Dallas Mavericks Danilo Gallinari David West Denver Nuggets George Karl J.R. Smith Jordan Hamilton JR Smith Kenneth Faried Kenyon Martin Kosta Koufos Melo Timofey Mozgov Ty Lawson Wilson Chandler