Denver Nuggets: Mike Malone Tinkering with Lineups


The Denver Nuggets come home after a 5-game losing streak that saw them snap a season long 8-game losing streak this past Thursday against the Toronto Raptors.

Now carrying a two-game winning streak home to the Pepsi Center after narrowly defeating the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday afternoon, the Denver Nuggets stand only two-games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Throughout the past week, Head Coach Mike Malone has tinkered with his lineups in order yield favorable results.

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So far, Malone’s experimentation appears that it is working, and is paying dividends. Forward Darrell Arthur is the primary beneficiary of Malone’s tinkering with the starting lineup. Malone has afford Darrell Arthur more meaningful minutes throughout the recent stretch of games for the Denver Nuggets, and has started for the team for the last two games. So far in the month of December, Darrell Arthur is averaging 12.8 points per game and 5.4 boards, as opposed to only 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a reserve. 

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Because Darrell Arthur is receiving starting minutes, the Denver Nuggets have relegated Kenneth Faried to role off of the bench. While it is strange seeing Faried come off the bench for the Nuggets, he still receives important fourth quarter minutes at the end of games, and has performed well as a reserve.

Off the bench, Kenneth Faried is averaging 18 minutes per game while also average 11 points and 7 rebounds per contest. In 15 games as a starter, the 26-year-old Faried was averaging 12.5 points and 8.9 boards per game in nearly 27 minutes per contest. While it’s clear that Faried’s usage is down since Head Coach Mike Malone began to start Darrell Arthur, he still is a significant contributor.

Mike Malone’s frontcourt tinkering has also seen the Denver Nuggets start French center Joffrey Lauvergne over Nikola Jokic. In 5 starts for the Denver Nuggets, Lauvergne is averagin 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Lauvergne put up great numbers this past Thursday in Toronto, as the 24-year-old Frenchman scored 14 points and recorded 10 rebounds. On a team where rebounding is an issue (ranked 15th in the NBA), Lauvergne is providing an impact presence down low.

Of course, the bench is anchored by 24-year-old swingman Will Barton. The former University of Memphis standout has come off of the bench for the Denver Nuggets for most of the season, and is the second leading scorer on the team at 14 points per game. Though Barton has started a couple of games for the Denver Nuggets so far in the 2015-2016 season, it’s clear that he has found his niche as a reserve. 

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While the start of the season up to this point is disappointing to say the least, the Western Conference currently only has six teams with records above .500 — as opposed to the Eastern Conference which has ten teams (talk about a reversal). Only two games out of a playoff spot, it’s clear that Mike Malone is doing everything that he can to give his team an edge and to build chemistry.

Despite a long losing streak of 8-games, Mike Malone’s tinkering with his starting lineup has given the Denver Nuggets an edge that they lacked a week ago. With the surprising Orlando Magic heading into town for a Tuesday tilt with the Nuggets, it’s imperative that the team continues to remain tenacious and grind out wins however they can. If that means that Nurkic and Kenneth Faried are now bench players, then that’s what it will take.

Next: Denver Nuggets Return Home for Three Games

A two-game winning streak is nothing to write home about, but amidst a disappointing campaign thus far, it’s a small silver lining for the Denver Nuggets. Keep it here for ongoing updates on the Denver Nuggets as the regular season progresses.