Lawson injury means opportunity for Stone

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson has joined the ranks of the walking wounded in Denver. As the team gets set to face the 6-13 Toronto Raptors tonight, Denver could be without two starters, one key bench member, and a reserve. What should George Karl do with his rotations?

Take a look at the Nuggets injury list:

ARRON AFLALO – Right groin strain. Day-to-day. Doubtful for tomorrow vs. TOR.

DeMARRE CARROLL – Left hamstring strain. Day-today. Game-time decision.

RUDY FERNANDEZ – Right Achilles tendon strain. Dayto-day. Game-time decision.

TY LAWSON – Left ankle sprain. Day-to-day. Doubtful for tomorrow vs. TOR.

Afflalo has missed the past two games,. Carroll hasn't seen game action for the past eight contests. Fernandez suffered his injury Jan. 15th against the Utah Jazz, missed the following two games, came back and played just 12 minutes against the Wizards on Jan. 20th, and has now missed two more games. And now Lawson looks to perhaps miss his second game of the season, after sitting out the Jan. 11th contest against the Nets.

Injuries can be a bad thing and if none are too serious, they can sometimes be a good thing too. The Nuggets need to get some of their reserves important minutes and some of their key players more minutes as well. These injuries will allow Karl to tinker even more with his lineups and hopefully find some combinations that can work at various times during this fast-paced season.

Against the Kings, the Nuggets emptied their bench and Karl played all three Nuggets rookies. It's sort of crazy to think that the Nuggets have three rookies on the young roster. Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, and Julyan Stone all saw a little action against the Kings.

Stone, who played 20 minutes in Sacramento, will benefit the most if Lawson sits out tonight. With Fernandez also out, Karl will have no choice other than to turn the backup point guard duties over to the rookie out of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

Stone has appeared in three games this season. Back on Jan. 11th Karl had an opportunity to use Stone a bit as the backup point guard as Lawson sat out. The Rook only played 6 minutes as Karl leaned Andre Miller for 38 minutes and Fernandez for 28 minutes for his point guard minutes, in what turned out to be a closer than comfortable game against the now 6-13 squad from Jersey.

But tonight could be different. If Lawson is unable to go, we should get an extended look at the kid out of UTEP. Stone was an undrafted rookie and I've liked what we've seen out of him thus far. He gives tremendous effort on defense and has nice court vision for setting up his teammates.

I'm most interested to see what Stone will do with Miller on the bench. Against the Kings, he was passed the ball a of times right after he got it. But once the reserves all entered the game, Stone seemed more at ease and started running the show on the floor.

Who is Julyan Stone? Well, he's a former four-year collegiate player who broke Tim Hardaway's assist record with the Miners, he's not known for being much of a scorer but more of a passer, a hard working defender, and a long point guard who goes 6'6''-6'7'' and 200 pounds ... consider that Afflalo goes 6'5'' and 215 pounds.

I pulled this from his Wikipedia page:

As a senior, Stone finished the season averaging 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. In an article about the Legends Classic, a regular season tournament that UTEP participated in, Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis commented that, "I also liked what I saw out of 6-7 senior point guard Julyan Stone, though I'm mystified as to why he has not developed more of an offensive game. If he did, he'd be a surefire pro." On February 5, 2011, in a conference game against the Rice Owls, Stone recorded a career-high 23 points, making 7-9 shots and 9-10 free throws. After the game, Rice head coach Ben Braun said that his team, "let Stone get to the rim and he made big plays." In his final career game at UTEP, Stone recorded one assist, which brought his career total to 714, the most in UTEP and Conference USA history by a single player. He was later named to the Conference USA All-Defensive team for a second straight season, as well as the Conference USA All-Conference second team.

I'm excited to see what this rookie can do with another opportunity tonight.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nate_Timmons
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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