As many of you already know, the Denver Nuggets have dealt with plentiful injuries this season. Danilo Gallinari who was expected to return sometime in late November or early December, never saw the court. JaVale McGee would suffer a stress fracture in his left shin just five games into the season. Both Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson would tear their ACL’s in the second half of the season. Players like Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler are battling injuries right now and the last four games and the entire season looks like a lost cause. Sure they are going to miss the postseason for the first time since 2002-03′ but you have to look at the positives.
Not so fast. With all of these key players dealing with injuries and out of the lineup, Denver has had the chance to develop some players and give them some valuable experience. For instance, two 21-year-old’s Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller. Fournier is benefiting greatly from the increased role but it will be all about consistency moving forward. In last Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets. Fournier went off for 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting while making 6-of-10 shots from three.
Quincy Miller on the other hand has shown flashes as well but his offensive game looks like a work in progress. In the same game where Fournier scored 26 points, Miller would score 19 on 8-of-14 shooting,to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks. Miller has shown he can be a viable asset on the defensive side of the ball with his length and athleticism, recording 8 blocks in Denver’s last two games.
The point is, developing those two can help Denver out in the long-run in case of injuries or for an important role off of the bench. We saw Fournier getting some playing time last season under George Karl and he benefited from that where as Miller didn’t see the court barely at all.
With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson each out of the lineup, Denver has gotten a good look at point guard Aaron Brooks who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Houston Rockets. He has filled in quite nicely and wouldn’t be opposed to resigning with Denver. Brian Shaw reiterated that he would like to have three-point guards on the roster for next season so Brooks might find himself back in the Mile High City. Just this past Sunday against Houston, Brooks put up outstanding numbers in 47 minutes of action. He would score 24 points on 11-of-24 shooting, collecting 8 rebounds, 15 assists, and 3 steals in the losing effort.
Denver also has to be happy with the depth of this year’s draft class highlighted by Kansas teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Denver’s chances of getting one of those two is very and I mean very slim but this years draft class has some players that can make an impact right away. Denver is currently looking at a pick in the 10-12 range but that could all change with the ping-pong balls.