During Denver Nuggets media day, head coach Michael Malone provided his first insights on the starting lineup and the rotation.
In an interview with Vic Lombardi earlier today, he stated that four of the five positions in the starting lineup are cemented. Gary Harris as the shooting guard, Wilson Chandler as the small forward, Paul Millsap as the power forward, and Nikola Jokic as the center.
He was adamant that the point guard position would be an open competition, citing it as “a very interesting battle at point guard.”
He also made some interesting comments about the rotation, these two comments from Chris Dempsey of Altitude TV:
Malone says he's going to try to find nine players to be in the regular rotation— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) September 25, 2017
Malone: "The best players will play. The rest will have to stay ready."— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) September 25, 2017
Malone has played different bench combinations in the past, but it looks like he may settle into a rotation that features less bodies. A nine man rotation would mean leaving at least one starter on the floor for all 48 minutes, a common occurrence for a variety of teams.
There will be speculation on which players he believes will be in the rotation. It’s easy to pencil in Will Barton, the Nuggets sixth man from years past and a key contributor to the upcoming season. Barton will likely settle into a role of about 25-30 minutes off the bench. It’s also easy to see the Nuggets using a backup point guard, as Malone pointed that out as one of the major competitions on the depth chart this year. That means that two of Jamal Murray, Jameer Nelson, and Emmanuel Mudiay will play, and one of the latter two may sit.
The other two spots are more tricky, but our own Adam Mares of Denver Stiffs provides some insight on one of the rotation spots.
Mentions Plumlee and Barton among those he expects to play big min— Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares) September 25, 2017
Based on his most recent contract and Malone’s comments, Mason Plumlee is likely to be another player off the bench as a backup big who will play solid minutes. I estimate his minutes will range from 16 to 24 minutes from night to night, and he will settle into a 20 minute per game role.
The last position is the backup forward spot. Malone mentions utilizing one of his starters as a backup 4 in Wilson Chandler, but to fill out the rest of the minutes, he mentions Juancho Hernangomez as a possible option. Other options such as Kenneth Faried, Trey Lyles, and Darrell Arthur were mentioned, but ultimately, Hernangomez allows for the most versatility. Check out a separate article on the backup power forward position here.
To recap, Two of Murray, Mudiay and Nelson, as well as Harris, Barton, Chandler, Hernangomez, Millsap, Jokic, and Plumlee seem to be the clubhouse leaders to be the nine-man rotation going into training camp.
All of that will shake out as we get closer to the regular season, but stay tuned for further updates on the expected rotation as well as interviews with more Denver players and coaches today!