The Denver Nuggets' Top Training Camp Storylines
There has been very little drama for the Denver Nuggets organization with training camp underway, but several question marks are apparent to the Nuggets’ faithful as 2013 approaches.
With such a deep roster, the Nuggets have a number of positional battles sure to rage during training camp and well into the regular season. Though Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala are guaranteed starters, the state of the frontcourt positions is less clear, which should make for a highly competitive training camp in Denver.
Let’s take a look at the Nuggets’ biggest storylines in the weeks leading up to the season.
What to Do with the Young Guns
In Iguodala, Gallinari and Chandler, the Nuggets have a deadly perimeter trio that should chew up most of the minutes at the shooting guard and small forward positions. However, with Gallo and Chandler both capable of sliding to the four in a pinch, there could be some spot minutes available for a fourth wing player in the rotation. The question is, who will that be?
After a solid 2011-12 campaign as an energy guy off the bench, Corey Brewer is the incumbent in the battle for the final wing position. Brewer scored efficiently in limited minutes while playing his trademark scrappy defense, and his veteran status should elevate his position in the eyes of George Karl.
However, the Nuggets have several younger alternatives they could deploy as well. Jordan Hamilton brings dangerous outside shooting and tenacity on the boards, while Evan Fournier can offer playmaking ability that Brewer lacks.
This battle could last for the duration of the season with no clear victor, but with the work Hamilton has put in during the offseason, he could be the best choice.
Wilson Chandler's Return
Wilson Chandler returned to the NBA in March after a season in China, but his already shortened 2011-12 season ended after just eight games due to a hip injury.
After a summer of rehab, Chandler should be ready to go for the beginning of the season, but has been held out to start the preseason, as his hip does not appear to be at 100 percent.
Chandler is up for a slow start this season as a result of his injury and dearth of NBA playing experience in the past year, but he shouldn’t take too long to readjust to his team and the league.
Chandler will start the season as the first man off the bench, but, after a season of playing as a big man in China, he could potentially look to oust the starting power forward spot from sophomore Kenneth Faried.
Can Gallinari Maintain His Starting Job?
Danilo Gallinari showed flashes of brilliance last season while starting for the Nuggets at small forward, but struggled through injuries and an inconsistent stroke.
Although often heralded as a shooter, Gallo shot under 33 percent from deep last season and proved to be much more interested in attacking the rim and drawing fouls.
But with two great playmakers in Ty Lawson and Iguodala alongside him in the starting lineup, Gallinari will need to assert his ability to knock down the open three-pointers that will inevitably become available to him this season.
Even if Chandler produces at a high level in the upcoming season, he will likely remain the sixth-man due to his ability to play multiple positions. Therefore, Gallinari’s spot in the starting lineup should be secure, provided he can stay healthy. However, if the Italian wants to continue earning top minutes, he will need to do a better job of living up to his title as an outside shooter.
Three-Way Battle at Center
Finally out of the basketball wasteland that is Washington D.C., JaVale McGee looks like a potential breakout player this season. However, despite his solid play with the Nuggets last season and his considerable upside, McGee will have plenty of competition in earning the starting center spot.
JaVale isn’t the only 7-footer on Denver’s roster; he’s joined by Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov in providing the Nuggets with a trio of towering big men. And though all three players have the talent to be rotation players, there simply isn’t enough playing time to go around.
Koufos has drawn high praise from Coach Karl during training camp, largely due to his rebounding ability, defensive presence and intangibles. And though he lacks McGee’s name recognition, Koufos could just as easily be the starting center on opening night.
While McGee is likely to get the most minutes out of the three, each big man has plenty to offer and their contest will be something to watch during training camp.