When the Denver Nuggets lost Jamal Murray and P.J. Dozier in their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, they turned to rookie R.J. Hampton. Murray was ejected after a controversial flagrant two call and Dozier strained his right hamstring in the first half, thus opening the door for Hampton to see the floor.

Hampton ended up playing just six minutes — all in the second half — but it’s what he did in those minutes that leaves you wondering if more playing time could be on the horizon:

“Really proud of R.J. Hampton,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after Denver’s victory over Dallas. “First real stretch of minutes he’s gotten in a tight ball game and I think the five or six minutes that he played, he made an impact.”

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Malone went onto applaud Hampton’s effort defensively on Mavericks sharpshooter Tim Hardaway Jr. along with some even better hustle plays on the offensive end of the floor:

“Tim Hardaway Jr. is a very good player, he was killing us in that third quarter with his catch and shoot. I thought R.J. did a really good job of defending him and then on offense making hustle plays, coming up with loose balls, offensive rebounds, so really valuable minutes for R.J.”

Of the Nuggets 17 games, Hampton has actually appeared in over half of them (10), but is averaging just 2.9 minutes per game. Hampton has scored two points in four of the 10 games and the most minutes he’s seen in a game was 6:39 against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week.

That could change in the near future as Dozier (right hamstring strain) has already been ruled out for the Nuggets game in Miami tonight. The Nuggets have loved guard heavy lineups to start the year and Hampton seems to be next in line to fill the void left by Dozier.

It also helps that his first real minutes of the season came just two nights ago in a game the Nuggets won by four. That could easily propel Hampton to more playing time, but it’s going to be important that he makes the most of it once his number is called.

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Dozier has been steady both offensively and defensively all season long. Hampton has the traits to do just that, but the game can often go a little fast for rookies that have very little experience at the NBA level.

It’s a unique situation with Hampton and the rest of the Nuggets rookies because there really was no offseason to get these guys used to the NBA lifestyle. There was no summer league or extended training camp like usual, which put all the rookies around the league in a very tough spot.

The only real experience these rookies are going to get is by playing just because of how very little teams practice once the season begins. Rookies like Hampton are getting thrown into the fire and are expected to perform, which some have done better than others.

On a team that is in “win now mode” like the Nuggets are, playing time for rookies just isn’t an option like it is for some teams. That’s why this situation is so unique for Hampton because there’s no telling how long Dozier could be out, it could be for one game or it could be for 10 games.

This could be Hampton’s time to shine and if Monday’s game was any indication of what he could bring to this Nuggets team, it could be the start of something special.