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Does this mean J.R. will finally be the starter?...

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Readers of this blog know that one of my least favorite current Nuggets is Chucky Atkins. He may be a fine person, but he's the antithesis of everything I like in an NBA player. He's a chucker with a career 41.5 field goal percentage, he's undersized but doesn't make up for that with tenacious defense and his assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.4 (that's right, for about every two assists he dishes out, he gives you one turnover to go along with it).

Luckily for the Nuggets, Atkins missed virtually the entire 2007-08 season. That was $3 million well spent.

What was even more irritating for me last season was head coach George Karl and his media surrogates using Atkins' injury as an excuse for the Nuggets myriad of problems. And if you read Karl's reaction to Atkins' newest injury, you'll notice that the excuses are filing in already.

If the Nuggets are to have any success this season - and I believe they could - they need to play in an unconventional style and with more heart than they've exhibited in the past. Karl should not be married to the small-point-guard-starting-next-to-Allen-Iverson-plan, or any other plan for that matter. (Wait a second, has Karl even had a plan these past few years?)

In fact, throughout training camp and the preseason Karl should be trying out an Iverson / J.R. Smith backcourt to go along with the presumed Carmelo Anthony / Kenyon Martin / Nene frontcourt. With Linas Kleiza clearly capable of bringing firepower into the lineup as the team's sixth man - and Renaldo Balkman some much needed energy off the bench, as well - there's no need to banish J.R. to the back of the rotation anymore.

I would never wish an injury on any player (well, maybe Latrell Sprewell), but Atkins being out for all of training camp might actually be a good thing for the Nuggets, as it will force Karl to try out a new lineup or two. Something he should be doing anyway.