Denver- The Nuggets have been up and down all season, showing flashes of a playoff worthy team, but at the same time, a team that belongs in the draft lottery. The Nuggets arguably present one of the most talented rosters in the league, going twelve deep. So why is this talent not translating into more wins? Is there such a thing as a roster that is too deep?
When an NBA team is able to complete a line change of players without a major drop off, one would expect that team to excel. While better than last year, the Nuggets are still a bit underwhelming. They are an incredibly fun team to watch, don’t get me wrong, but having a plethora of skilled players on the roster might be holding them back.
On February 13, 2017 the Golden State Warriors made their way to the Pepsi Center. Nearing the All-Star break, as with every team, the Nuggets were limited due to many injuries. Prior to the game, the injury report was as follows:
- Danilo Gallinari- OUT
- Kenneth Faried-OUT
- Darrell Arthur- OUT
- Wilson Chandler- Questionable
- Emmanuel Mudiay- Questionable
The Nuggets had made a trade the day before, sending center Jusuf Nurkic to the Portland Trailblazers in return for center Mason Plumlee. Plumlee was inactive, leaving the Nuggets with a nine man rotation as they face the NBA’s best. Without many expectations, the Nuggets got the lead and never looked back. A limited rotation freed fan favorite Juancho Hernangomez, as he exploded for 27 points. Will Barton played extended minutes (41 to be exact) and was three assists shy of a triple double. In fact, every player who logged more than 20 minutes scored at least 14 points. There was even a Mike Miller sighting, who drained two shots from downtown. Ultimately, the Nuggets embarrassed the Warriors winning by 22.
Nuggets Nation got glimpse of what the exciting future holds. With a thin rotation, the Nuggets played their best game of the season; however, they did go on to lose at home to the Timberwolves with the same rotation.
Is a crowded roster detrimental to a teams’ success? The young guns, who, by the way can in fact compete at this level, are barely seeing the floor. Earlier in the season, there were reports that Wilson Chandler wanted out of Denver due to the inconsistency of his role. In an interview with Altitude TV’s Chris Dempsey, Chandler was asked, “Do you want to be traded?” He responded with,
I wouldn’t say that, but I would definitely like to be in something more consistent.”
Later on in the same interview, Dempsey posed the question, “You were good off the bench early this season. Was that the role you thought you’d play? Were you promised something that you’re not getting? Wilson replied,
I wasn’t promised anything. It’s just kind of how are team is built, we’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”
Many believed General Manager Tim Connelly should have pulled the trigger on a block buster trade to acquire a star at the deadline and to consolidate the roster. Apparently Connelly thought so too, as the Nuggets made a “monster offer” to the Pacers for Paul George. In the trade that brought Mason Plumlee to Denver, the Nuggets gave up a first round pick. Although the 2017 draft is expected to produce immense talent, the Nuggets do not need to add more youth to their roster. As previously mentioned, the rookies currently on the team are barely setting foot on the floor, Jamal Murray is the exception. It makes no sense to draft multiple prospects who will come to Denver, only to have them sit behind the current rookies class.
It will be interesting to see how the season wraps up, as the Nuggets are sitting in eighth place in the wild Western Conference. Connelly and the Nuggets have a big off season ahead of them, with Danilo Gallinari having a player option for next season. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are showing promise, and it will be compelling to see if the Nuggets add the star they been seeking since Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York ( Looks like Jokic may be able to fill the void). Maybe, just maybe, the Nuggets will be able to divvy up the roster in order for the young guns to get some run.