How Brian Shaw is distributing early season minutes for the Nuggets

Doug Pensinger

Brian Shaw has been forced to get creative with his lineups due to injuries and he is starting to find some good combinations as the season wears on.

Denver Nuggets coach Shaw has routinely been playing 11 guys on this young season. With Wilson Chandler returning to the lineup, Anthony Randolph's minutes have been getting phased-out. How will things look when JaVale McGee returns to the lineup? And how will things look once Danilo Gallinari is set to come back? Well, let's take a look at how Shaw is using his players and compare their minutes from the previous season to see what has been shaking out.

Point Guards/Shooting Guards:

Minutes Distribution Ty Lawson Andre Miller Nate Robinson Randy Foye Evan Fournier
2012-13 34.4 26.2 25.4 27.4 11.3
2013-14 36.6 21.3 17.8 27.6 14.5

Lawson has been getting the bulk of the minutes and is playing more under Shaw than he did under Karl, last season. This is a reflection of Ty's progression and also an acknowledgement that he has been the team's best player through the team's first eight games. Lawson has been spectacular and yet he also has been scoring with more ease - sounds funny since Ty is having to work a bit harder to get to the rim, but the offense really fits for him.

Old Man 'Dre has been used in a variety of ways: point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. Quincy Miller recently told me that he studies post-moves of 'Dre has he may in fact be the team's best post player. His minutes are down approximately five minutes and using Andre in spots instead of long-stretches has been helping his effectiveness.

Robinson's minutes have suffered the most since last season, when he was with the Chicago Bulls. Shaw has been using him as a point guard and a shooting guard with more point duties coming to him recently. Nate Rob has played well in stretches, but he also has had the hardest time, among the guards, in finding his role with this team. I have been curious to see if Robinson will remain happy in a reduced role and we will see how that plays out ... especially if Fournier's time increases.

Foye has seen his minutes stay the same from his time with the Jazz to the Nuggets. It has been Robinson and Fournier who have "suffered" in the rotation. Shaw trusts Foye and that has been apparent with his use late in games and in the starting lineup.

Fournier has seen an uptick in minutes and it would be good to see him work his way into even more playing time. He continues to put in extra work after practices, extended work, but has been inconsistent in game play. The same question will pop up here: Can Shaw spend valuable minutes developing Fournier if the team is winning games? Fours has generally proven to be an asset on the floor, so hopefully his minutes will increase and his play will become more consistent at the same time.

Small Forwards:

Minutes Distribution Jordan Hamilton Wilson Chandler Anthony Randolph
2012-13 9.9 25.1 8.4
2013-14 19.5 21.5 18.5

Randolph was the early starter and his ankle sprain paved the way for Hamilton to usurp the starting role and he has not looked back. With Chandler back, Randolph has not played in the last two contests as Shaw is rolling with Ham and Wil.

Hamilton has been carving out a role with this team as a starter (huge minute increase) and if you want to keep the Indiana Pacers comparisons going ... he's the Lance Stephenson thus far. Hamilton has been playing with more confidence and has recently began expanding his game to see some rim attacking, passing, and mid-range shots. I like having Hamilton start as he looks to understand his role in the starting lineup and plays better-and-better.

Chandler's role as a sixth man looks perfect. Most can see from his play that he could easily be a starter, but he is such a weapon off the bench. His minutes are down a bit from last season as he works back from injury, but we'll monitor how Shaw uses him, going forward. He has been used primarily has a small forward, but has also seen some time as a power forward in his two games back with the team.

Power Forwards:

Minutes distribution Kenneth Faried J.J. Hickson Darrell Arthur
2012-13 28.1 29.0 16.4
2013-14 25.3 23.0 16.1

As expected, all three of these guys have seen a decrease in minutes, with Hickson taking the biggest bump. That's expected for J.J. as Portland's team was without much depth last season. Hickson has also benefited from the McGee injury, as we all know.

Faried has seen his minutes increase back to the 28-30 range over the past three games and has been thriving. Arthur has seen his minutes fluctuate all over the board from five minutes to 26 minutes and everything between.

Centers:

Minutes distribution JaVale McGee Timofey Mozgov
2012-13 18.1 8.9
2013-14 15.8 18.6

With McGee playing on a hurt leg and not playing very well, it's hard to figure out what is going on with his playing time. One would think McGee's absence has provided a bit of clarity, but with Chandler getting some run at PF the logjams for the bigs are still there. We'll find out when JaVale returns if he can get on track and find some consistent minutes, but Mozgov ...

Timofey has looked pretty solid and his minutes are a reflection of that. His role as the primary backup has been solidified as Shaw turned to Hickson to start at center and it has worked out well for Timo.

We are dealing with a pretty small sample size to start things, but we're starting to see some patterns emerge in Shaw's rotation.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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