Power Ranking Every Denver Nuggets Player Already on Roster
Now that the Denver Nuggets' summer league is underway and most of their roster is set, it's time to rank each player for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
While a lot of the attention on the Nuggets this offseason surrounded the losses of Masai Ujiri, George Karl and Andre Iguodala, there are several new names Denver fans will get to know.
Those include the Nuggets' two draft picks, Erick Green and Joffrey Lauvergne. Also joining the Nuggets will be Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson and Randy Foye.
The Nuggets lost Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors in free agency, but it was done in a sign-and-trade in order to acquire Foye. Kosta Koufos was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Arthur and the 55th pick, which was used to select Lauvergne. Corey Brewer signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Julyan Stone took a deal with the Toronto Raptors in free agency.
It's not massive turmoil from last season, but the rotation will certainly look different come November.
15. Joffrey Lauvergne
After being selected by Denver with the 55th pick, Joffrey Lauvergne went right back to work playing with the French national team. He's still doing so and isn't part of Denver's summer league.
Considering that the Nuggets now have Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson and Anthony Randolph all signed and that they're getting closer to signing Timofey Mozgov to a multi-year deal (per Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post), it's not likely that Lauvergne will have a spot on the roster for 2013-14.
Nevertheless, he's got solid ball handling for a seven-footer, can shoot from outside and is active around the rim.
With some more time to develop and to gain some weight, Lauvergne could find a spot on the Nuggets next season.
14. Quincy Miller
According to Christopher Dempsey at The Denver Post, Quincy Miller currently only has part of his contract guaranteed for the 2013-14 season. If Miller isn't waived by the first game, he will receive all of the $788,872.
On the opening night of the summer league for Denver, Miller played like he was fighting for his job. He cooled off after a hot start scoring, but he was very active on both ends of the floor and finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks (one of which should have made SportsCenter's Top 10).
While Miller is a guy who can play in space and has athleticism, he put on another 20 pounds, according to Nate Timmons at Denver Stiffs. Miller will look to become a more dominant force inside while maintaining his speed. Timmons also pointed out that he has been working on his shot outside the paint and nailed one early on in the game.
Quincy has been working hard on that outside shot: splash down again. He has 7 points for the Nuggets.
— Nate Timmons (@Nate_Timmons) July 14, 2013
It's only one game, but Miller is off to a good start in making the 15-man roster.
13. Jordan Hamilton
Jordan Hamilton is also part of the summer league squad but had a rough opening night in Las Vegas. While grabbing nine rebounds, Hamilton went 1-for-11 shooting and fouled out in 26 minutes.
It's only one game, though, and players need to shake the rust off.
Hamilton has averaged 9.9 minutes in his first two years with Denver, playing a total of 66 games. He's primarily been the first guy in as far as the benchwarmers go, or made his way into the rotation if one of the forwards or shooting guards couldn't play on a specific night.
According to HoopsWorld.com, Hamilton is entering the final year of his guaranteed contract. He will need to have better nights than the one he had on Saturday if he wants to find a spot in Brian Shaw's rotation.
Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post says Danilo Gallinari will be out until at least December. Hamilton may have a chance in his absence.
12. Anthony Randolph
Anthony Randolph may have a limited ceiling of potential, but you at least know what you will get out of him: great hustle, finding gaps in the defense and finishing around the rim.
For the same reason as Lauvergne, with the acquisitions of Arthur and Hickson to go with Faried and McGee, Randolph's minutes are unlikely to increase, and he will spend much of his time on the bench.
The one advantage Randolph does have is that he's 6'11", and if Denver doesn't re-sign Mozgov, McGee is the only other player who is above 6'9". Should that happen and Randolph impress Brian Shaw with his defense and rim protection, perhaps he could sneak into getting 10 minutes per game.
11. Erick Green
The former NCAA Division I leading scorer is behind a lot of talent at guard, but he should make some noise in his rookie season.
Green can shoot off the pass or the dribble. He attacks the rim and can make the floater or drill it from three.
Green's best progress his senior year at Virginia Tech was increasing his free-throw attempts from 3.9 to 8.3 per game and improving his field-goal percentage to 47.5. Outside of scoring, he also improved his rebounding and assist numbers.
Like many of the Denver players, Green did struggle in his first summer-league contest and was sloppy at times, but that shouldn't throw anyone off on what he can do. Whether it was nerves, getting used to playing with his teammates or just having an off night, Green will continue to get better throughout the summer league and find at least a 10-to-15 minute role in this rotation.
10. Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier did an excellent job off the bench at the end of the regular season when Wilson Chandler had to move into the starting lineup because of Gallinari's injury.
His ability to push the ball, attack the basket and shoot it from three helped the Nuggets cap off one of the strongest finishes in the NBA last year.
Although once Fournier was put into the starting lineup and got into the playoffs, he hit a wall, and his production took a big hit, eventually losing his spot in the rotation altogether.
It was only his rookie season, however, so it's tough to be too critical. Fournier will have the summer league, preseason and the regular season to work on his consistency and finding his groove.
But as Brian Shaw pointed out on the broadcast of Denver's summer league game, according to Raj Sharan of ESPNDenver.com, Shaw knows it's about the postseason.
Shaw- "I don't want to be judged on the reg season but going deep in the playoffs which this team hasn't been able to do." #Nuggets— Raj Sharan (@Raj_Sharan) July 14, 2013
Let's see if Fournier can do what he did at the end of last year over an 82-game season and in the playoffs.
9. Darrell Arthur
Darrell Arthur is a type of post player the Nuggets haven't had in recent memory.
Offensively, he has a mid-range shot and plays well in the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll. Defensively, he can guard on the perimeter and inside.
This is exactly what Denver could have used against Golden State in the playoffs. Someone to pull Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes away from the basket. Someone who can contest Stephen Curry's shot off the high-ball screen without having to worry about getting broken ankles in return.
Sure, Arthur is only 6'9" (the height of almost half of Denver's roster now), but he is 235 pounds and very strong on the glass. There isn't anything flashy about Arthur, and he won't take over a game, but he serves Denver's needs and will be a greater asset than most people may realize.
8. Randy Foye
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Denver Nuggets last season was their three-point shooting at 34.3 percent.
This is where Randy Foye comes in. Last season with the Utah Jazz, Foye converted 41 percent of his 5.3 three-pointers.
With Foye starting 72 of the 82 games last year and Iguodala now gone, the sharp shooter looks like the leading candidate for starting at the 2. Foye is a combo guard who has excellent ball-handling skills and can play some defense on the perimeter.
The downside is that Foye doesn't bring a lot in terms of passing, rebounding or explosiveness. Foye also attacked the basket more frequently in his days with Minnesota and Washington, and Brian Shaw may look for more of that in the upcoming season.
If Foye does start, there will be an adjustment period for the rest of the starting five, because he is a different kind of 2-guard than Iguodala. Once the chemistry develops, the deep threat will open things up for the other Denver players.
7. J.J. Hickson
It's amazing to think someone who averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds last season would only get a three-year deal worth $15 million.
The reason for that is J.J. Hickson has certain limitations. He's only 6'9" and isn't a rim protector like Faried or McGee. He also doesn't take over down low and doesn't play with his back to the basket often.
Hickson is similar to Faried and McGee in the sense that he is explosive and can throw down the hammer. He has a skill like Randolph in the way he finds gaps in the defense to create passing lanes for the guards so he can get the easy buckets. J.J. also has a mid-range shot like Arthur that will help stretch the defense.
Hickson may not be a dominant post player, but having a variety of assets will help Denver's production.
6. Andre Miller
Andre Miller is still going at it as hard as anyone on the Nuggets, as he was only one of two players to play all 82 games last season.
While Miller doesn't have the burst he used to have, he's still capable of big nights, such as Game 1 of the first round last year where he finished with this game-winner.
His experience plays a vital role on this Nuggets team. There are some players in their prime, but Miller's 14 years of veteran leadership is crucial coming off the bench, and he can play with or without Ty Lawson in the same lineup.
Miller's new task will be developing chemistry with a new bench.
With that and the addition of Hickson to Faried and McGee, Miller will have an easier time finding the open man for the alley-oop.
5. JaVale McGee
It's time to earn your money, JaVale McGee.
The flying seven-footer is earning $10.75 million next season with an increasing salary through 2015-16, according to HoopsWorld.com.
McGee had a limited role under George Karl, mainly as the man to come off the bench to provide a spark with a block party or make a continuous run of ridiculous dunks. According to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne, one of the reasons Karl was dismissed was his refusal to start McGee.
Assuming Brian Shaw starts McGee, it's time to see JaVale post double-doubles on a consistent basis. The fundamentals in the post must improve to complement his relentless motor.
If his skills develop, McGee moves up on the list.
4. Wilson Chandler
Since Gallinari won't be back until at least December, according to Hochman, Wilson Chandler should find himself starting at small forward to start the season.
With the way Chandler was playing at the end of last season, he may even keep the spot when Gallinari comes back.
While that's a debate for later on, Chandler proved last year that he is the most versatile player on the Nuggets since Iguodala has left. He can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4, has terrific explosion in transition and was Denver's best three-point shooter at 41.6 percent (minimum two attempts).
Chandler should thrive in whatever role Brian Shaw gives him, but he's most dangerous in space. Guarding someone who is 6'8" and can shoot the three or drive and jump over the defense is a tough assignment for the opposition.
Since Chandler has had success doing this in the starting lineup or as the sixth man, the main concern is keeping him healthy. Chandler has only played in 51 games over the last two seasons.
3. Danilo Gallinari
Even though Hochman's article says Danilo Gallinari won't be ready until at least December, that doesn't mean he should be ranked lower than the No. 3 spot.
His presence was greatly missed against the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. The Nuggets needed a second small forward to present matchup problems as well as providing length on the perimeter defensively.
With Iguodala joining the franchise that just beat him, Gallo's 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds from last season may have to increase in 2013-14 once he's 100 percent. It's important for Gallinari to continue attacking the basket for easy points as he led the Nuggets with 4.9 free-throw attempts while shooting 82.2 percent.
Gallinari is entering his sixth season, and as long as there aren't any setbacks in the healing process, he should pick up right where he left off.
2. Kenneth Faried
Does anyone have more energy than Kenneth Faried on a nightly basis?
It really isn't about the 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds with the Manimal. His athleticism at 6'8" and creativity to rebound against the taller power forwards and centers on both ends of the floor played a huge role in the Nuggets earning a franchise record of 57 wins last season.
His efforts carried over defensively too. Not only did Faried average 1.04 blocks, he also recorded 1.01 steals. The Manimal is always making an impact with his combination of size, speed and alertness.
There's work to do offensively in terms of fundamentals. He also lacks a mid-range shot and only converted 61.3 percent of his free-throws last season.
Still, for only having played two years in the NBA, Faried is one of the most accomplished young players there is in the league.
1. Ty Lawson
It's pretty much a no-brainer that Ty Lawson lands the No. 1 ranking.
He led the Nuggets with 16.7 points and 6.9 assists in the top scoring offense last season that averaged 106.1 points. Lawson also did an excellent job at controlling the tempo of the game and was the main contributor to the NBA's best fast-break team at 19.7 points.
Lawson also showed improvement last year in the pick-and-roll and being able to draw contact to get to the free-throw line. He made the engine run while making strides individually.
Now the challenge for Ty is getting this Nuggets team to gel under Brian Shaw. There will be more triangle elements under Denver's new head coach, but the Nuggets should still be running off of turnovers and defensive rebounds.
With Lawson entering the prime of his career with a decent part of the pieces from last year around him, the speedster will continue to grow and make the All-Star Game at least once while he's in Denver.