The Nuggets find themselves with a bevy of blossoming young talent.
Denver is packed with more potential than any season of American Idol and they're far more exciting to watch than the drama-filled talent show.
Not to say there hasn't been drama in Denver over the last year—from the Melodrama to George Karl fighting back from his second bout with cancer and the J.R. Smith circus—but there likely is more drama on the horizon in the front range.
The Nuggets have too many athletically gifted youngsters to delegate and regulate playing time to keep them all happy.
One of those talents is small forward Wilson Chandler.
Chandler can shoot—from distance and in the mid-range game—he can dribble, drive to the basket, dunk, rebounds relatively well and he even blocks opponents' shots on occasion.
Certainly, Chandler is a versatile player. He has the talent that could start on nearly any team in the NBA.
But on the Nuggets, the 6'8” forward is merely a backup off the bench.
Because Karl fell in love with forward Danilo Gallinari faster than an Italian finds fondness for pasta. At 6'11”, Gallinari possesses the size of a center, combined with a very similar skill set as Chandler's.
In fact, Gallinari's size and sick shooter's touch have some comparing him to new NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki.
You can't pass up playing a guy that could be the next Nowitzki one day, even if that (potential) day is a long ways away.
And at shooting guard—where Chandler has also suited up—stands consummate professional Arron Afflalo, who's staunch defense, sweet shooting and signs of leadership are all valued highly by Karl.
Of course, backing up Afflalo is the everlasting enigma that is J.R. Smith (also a free agent).
Remember when Smith quit on his team after Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Thunder in April?
Denver should have cut him then.
Think of when J.R. changed his name to his given name of Earl, putting himself in the spotlight.
How about Smith's constant complaining and contention with coaching throughout his career?
Smith is the antithesis of a team player, one of the last egocentric players from the selfish era, and if the Nuggets let him go, Chandler could fill the role at backup two guard, while backing up Gallinari at the three as well.
If Gallinari is having an off night, Karl can substitute Chandler in without missing out on much. In their games with the Nuggets, Gallinari averaged more points (14.7-12.5) and shot a better percentage from downtown (37.0-34.7 percent). But overall, their numbers were incredibly similar in almost the exact amount of minutes per game.
Which is a point in itself.
Karl played both Chandler and Gallinari the same amount of time per game, making them both integral pieces to the amazing play the Nuggets exhibited at the end of the regular season.
And when both are on the court together, it gives Denver two dynamic scorers and workers on the defensive end while giving it a height advantage over nearly any team.
But, there's no doubt that many other teams needing a SF/SG hybrid player will come calling to Chandler whenever the lockout is resolved, so he will have to decide whether or not he wants to continue playing in Denver as a backup.
Simply stated, versatility is very valuable in the NBA, where one player can affect the outcome of a game all by himself. Wilson Chandler's skill set, height and athletic abilities make him versatile and the Nuggets need to re-sign him at all costs.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is a contributor to Swoosh Nation, a Denver Nuggets and NBA Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com, a contributor to milehighreport.com writing on the Denver Broncos and a contributor to Blake Street Bulletin, part of ESPN's SweetSpot Blog Network.
Rich also manages K-Biz and Beezy, a Colorado-based rap group.
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