During the 2013-14′ season, the Denver Nuggets as a unit were never able to stay healthy. They were already without one of their top scorers in Danilo Gallinari, who sat out the entire season rehabbing from a torn ACL. The team would then go on to lose center JaVale McGee to a stress fracture after appearing in just five games, limiting their options off of the bench. Two of Denver’s starting five from a year ago were shelved for the season, hurting their chances at a playoff bid in a tough Western Conference.
Not to mention, key role players such as Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson would each tear their ACL’s later on in the season, making players that rarely see the floor step up. Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, and Darrell Arthur would each battle injuries as well where they all missed 20+ games each. Guess what, that doesn’t bode well for success in any level of professional sports.
Now, the Denver Nuggets are healthy and ready to make a run for the 2014-15′ Western Conference Playoffs. The team would make as splash this offseason, bringing in a familiar face in Arron Afflalo. Denver ended up shipping 21-year-old Evan Fournier and a second-round draft pick to the Orlando Magic, upgrading the shooting guard position which was on their to-do list.
The Nuggets had a pretty successful draft I might add, originally drafting Doug McDermott with the 11th overall pick. We heard rumblings about them trading the pick to the Bulls for their 16th and 19th overall picks and they did just that. Denver ended up trading Anthony Randolph in that package where they acquired Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris – both players that can come in and make an immediate impact.
Here is the real question: are the Denver Nuggets the deepest team in the NBA? Take a look at their roster as of July 10th and you be the judge.
Point Guard: Ty Lawson – Nate Robinson
Shooting Guard: Arron Afflalo – Randy Foye – Gary Harris
Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari – Wilson Chandler – Quincy Miller
Power Forward: Kenneth Faried – J.J. Hickson – Darrell Arthur
Center: Timofey Mozgov – JaVale McGee – Jusuf Nurkic
Just by looking at that quick presentation, Denver’s second-string lineup might be the most dangerous in the league. Three of their players (Foye, Chandler, Hickson) who will likely headline the second rotation, were starters most of last year due to injury – talk about depth.
One team that could compete with Denver in this category is the Los Angeles Clippers who also reside in the West. They recently picked up free agent center Spencer Hawes, who can stretch the 4-5 position — making it easier for Chris Paul to attack the lane and kick out for the three. Their second rotation can compete with anyone with players such as Jamal Crawford, Reggie Bullock, Spencer Hawes, Glen Davis, and newly added free agent Jordan Farmar.
Other teams that have good benches in my opinion include the Warriors, Spurs, Blazers, Suns, and Thunder — all Western Conference teams.
Denver has always seemed to have the luxury as a team with a deep bench, but will always be criticized for not having a star player on their roster. The San Antonio Spurs were a prime example this past season on why you don’t need a star player to win it all. You need a team that is willing to make the right move or the extra pass to push you over the hump. I personally think that Denver can be a team that can contend in the West, but what happened last year cannot happen again.
The development of players such as Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov will be a deciding factor on how far this team can go this season, same goes to point guard Ty Lawson. Also, we will see if the year off for Danilo Gallinari hurt his development and we will also see if he can regain his same form from 2012-13′.
This team has the depth necessary to compete in the tough Western Conference, it will all come down to playing together as one and staying away from the injury bug. As for are they the deepest team in the NBA, I’ll let you the fan decide but for me, it’s looking that way.