For the first time in 62 days, Wilson Chandler returned to the floor for the Denver Nuggets. His impact was felt as he scored 14 points on 6-14 shooting as the Nuggets came from behind in improbable fashion to defeat the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. The win was the Nuggets fifth one in a row. While Nuggets Head Coach George Karl has loved Chandler as a defensive player for quite some time, his offense will spark the bench. The reserve unit for the Nuggets has struggled so far this season and much of it has to do with the departure of Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington.
With Chandler coming off the bench, how will that directly impact the other Nuggets minutes? While it was only one game, a couple players saw a drop in their minutes. Whether it directly is impacted by the return of Chandler remains to be seen.
Evan Fournier is the first Nugget who saw his minutes decrease with the return of Chandler. In last night’s game, Fournier played just one minute in the game. Fournier played at least six minutes in five out of his last six games before Chandler returned. Looking back at his minutes in the four other games that Chandler was active in, Fournier saw action in just two of those contests. The possible cut down in minutes of Fournier comes as no surprise with Chandler back in the rotation.
The second notable player who saw a cut down in his minutes was Andre Iguodala. Iggy played 32 minutes last night after playing 34 or more in the seven of his last nine games. Iguodala only had 10 points last night as well. In the previous contest that Chandler played in, Iguodala’s low was 34 minutes. While I don’t expect Iggy’s numbers to get cut going forward, it will be interesting to see how Karl manages minutes between the two.
Going forward, I expect to see a lot of Iguodala and Chandler on the floor at the same time. Both are exception perimeter defenders and both can spark the offense. While Danilo Gallinari has played pretty consistent lately, he could also be in line for a decrease in minutes so that Chandler can see the floor.
With Karl saying that Chandler is still getting himself back into basketball shape with six weeks off, expect a slow increase in minutes over the next few games. Karl said the team isn’t regulating his minutes, so in close games, look for Chandler to be on the floor to shut down the opposition.