Fournier put this layup in over the out-stretched Ryan Hollins. - Victor Decolongon
With Ty Lawson unable to play against the Clippers Tuesday night - the Nuggets did not turn to Evan Fournier to run backup point guard duties. And that's because the Nuggets still like Fournier as a shooting guard.
Thankfully Ty Lawson won't miss an extended amount of time for the Nuggets. Adrian Dater, of the Denver Post, reports that an MRI on Lawson's Achilles came back "clean" and he has been listed as a game-time decision for the Nuggets match-up with the Timberwolves Thursday night.
But with Lawson out we finally got to see what George Karl would do at the point without one of his trusty guards. Karl went ahead and played the guy he often refers to as amazing for 41 minutes. That means Miller was only on the bench for a total of roughly seven minutes - a lot of burn for his 36 year-old legs.
But Miller being a veteran he knows how to save his legs during his time on the court. Sometimes that means not following his man all the way through the lane on defense (and allow open threes!) or just picking his spots on offense. Miller's superior passing skills were clearly seen in Denver's last game and the amount of easy buckets his teammates received had to be a pleasant surprise.
Among the Nuggets surprises this season has been the flashes shown by Evan Fournier. The kid from France is not your typical 20 year-old rookie (he turned 20 yrs old on Oct. 29th!).
"[Fournier] playing professionally overseas, back home, has given him a lot of confidence to be able to come over here and step into that [play-making] role." said Andre Miller.
And we have seen Fournier in that play-making role at times with the Nuggets when Karl has him on the floor late in games acting as the team's point guard. But often Karl pairs Fournier with Miller during crucial game minutes.
"I like it because I like having a third point [guard]," said Karl. "I think we all know that with the more ball handlers and play-makers I have on the court, the better we play."
The Nuggets start games with three play-makers on the floor in Lawson, Andre Iguodala, and Danilo Gallinari. We are also all very familiar with Lawson and Miller playing extended minutes together on the floor as well. And of the Nuggets top 20 five-man floor units this season, the combo of Lawson and Miller accounts for eight of them and as a whole are a +7 on the season.
But with Lawson out, Karl elected to just go heavy with Miller's minutes. Fournier played just 8 minutes and Karl did not play Fournier alone when the game was still in doubt; he paired the rookie with Miller and when Miller took a short rest in the first half, it was Iguodala who ran the point.
But Karl told me earlier in the season that he would play Fournier at the point if the circumstances dictated it.
"If push came to shove, we could probably get away with playing that way now. Julyan [Stone] will hopefully get back and so; I think we cover that third point guard. Can we rest Andre [Miller] during the year?" Karl said.
Thankfully Lawson's injury is not going to keep him out for an extended time, so the Nuggets won't need to rely on a rookie to back up the team's oldest player. And going forward, Karl still likes Fournier as a shooting guard prospect.
"I still think he's much more effective as an off guard." said Karl.
But in the NBA you have to take what the coaches give you. Fournier is trying to make the most of the limited minutes he has received, no matter the position.
"I think he is a smart player that can play different positions," Miller said. "I think he knows that and he's comfortable. Right now he's doing whatever it takes to get on the court."
|2012 - Evan Fournier||13||8.4||1.6||3.1||52.5||0.5||1.4||38.9||0.2||0.5||33.3||0.2||0.2||0.4||0.8||1.0||0.3||0.0||1.5||3.9|
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