The shooting guard spot will be one of three position battles that I will be paying close attention to - with the other two being backup point guard and starting power forward (heck, even backup power forward). It would appear that Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler have the starting point guard and small forward positions locked up. I would assume that JaVale McGee will get the nod at center. Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Darrell Arthur will fight for the power forward spot. And it's my take that the starting shooting guard role is Randy Foye's to lose.
Foye averaged just over 27 minutes a game for the Jazz last season and could see about the same for the Nuggets. The hope is that Evan Fournier, just 20 years old, will push Foye for the starters job, but coming off averaging just 11.3 minutes in 38 games - it's safe to say that he has a way to go to earn minutes, especially under new head coach Brian Shaw.
The two biggest logjams for the Nuggets come at the point and power forward positions. The Nuggets have seven guys at those two spots that could command time. A way to alleviate the issue would be to tinker with lineups and play guys a bit out of position. Shaw did speak at media day about wanting to play a more traditional lineup at power and center when he was referencing if Chandler would play out on the perimeter or be more of the stretch-four that we saw under George Karl.
Shaw was also asked about his logjam at the point and here is what he had to say:
"I don't want to put a label on a guy as just being a point guard," Shaw said. "I want him to be a basketball player. Going back to the first question about 'I'm a triangle guy', well part of the triangle, when we ran it, was because the teams that ran it didn't have your typical point guard. So, there were just two guards out there on the floor. Now, am I concerned a little bit about their size? If two guys, like Nate [Robinson] and Ty, had to play together - yeah. Because defensively teams would definitely try to take one or both of them down on the post, but at the same time they both have big hearts and they are going to fight for every inch on the floor. It is what it is, it's the team that we have and I feel confident - like I said - about the guys that will be out there on the floor, regardless of size and position, as long as we play together and we play as hard as we possibly can play, I'll be happy with that."
I would think that Foye could see an increase in minutes and we should expect to see more of Fournier, but Shaw will have some options. It sounds like he's already thinking about playing Lawson and Robinson together. Andre Miller and Ty are comfortable on the court together and Shaw could get even more creative. Darrell Arthur told me today that he could envision playing a little small forward himself and mentioned Chandler playing the two in a scenario - Wilson has played there before. Arthur said he has lost about 20 pounds from last season (added weight from his Achilles injury) and that he has been very comfortable guard guys like Tony Parker off the switch, so he's capable of running some small forward against anyone.
It's going to be very interesting to see how Shaw handles his lineups and how he's able to keep everyone happy. Robinson surely didn't sign with the Nuggets to go back to being a third point guard who racks up Did Not Play - Coach's Decisions and Miller was vocal about his backup role last season - on a 57 win team. There won't be a ton of minutes at the point with Lawson needing 30-35 minutes a night, so it'll be key to watch what happens at the shooting guard spot and if Shaw will run some two point guard lineups.
Running two point guard sets puts more pressure on the Nuggets' defense, especially if Miller is one of the guys in that set - as he has slowed down with age. There is also a worry of too many guys eating into Fournier's minutes. We keep hearing that guys need time, during games, to develop and Fournier showed last season that could benefit from an expanded role. Hopefully he'll continue to grow and earn more time.
Time, it's what Shaw has and what he'll also have to find.
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