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Depth Keeps Nuggets Afloat

By Dave Bruning

The NBA regular season is an 82 game rollercoaster ride. Every team must endure injuries, back-to-back games, constant travelling (although not usually called by NBA officials) and unforeseen obstacles such as George Karl’s battle with cancer. The Denver Nuggets are learning the depth of their roster is a key to their playoff push.

NBA rosters consist of thirteen active players. Typically, most teams will feature a rotation of 7-9 players that receive significant playing time. While the other players may not receive actual playing time, they contribute during practice and are important parts of the roster. As the 2010 season has progressed, the depth of the Nuggets roster has been proven time and again.

Denver’s starting rotation features Chauncey Billups, Aaron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Nene. The Nuggets key bench players are J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson and Chris “Birdman” Andersen. These players receive the bulk of the playing time. However, it is almost impossible to make it through a season without dealing with player injuries. The Nuggets are no exception.

Key players to miss multiple games this season include Anthony, Billups, Martin and Lawson. When one player goes down, another must step up and fill that role. Never was this more evident than the other night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Led by third string point guard Anthony Carter, the Nuggets overcame a hot Memphis start and outscored the Grizzlies 40-23 in the fourth quarter to secure a crucial road victory. The only starter on the floor during the Nuggets decisive run was Nene. It also didn’t hurt that J.R. Smith was hotter than a firecracker.

A shoulder injury to rookie Lawson opened the door for Carter. He has mostly sat the bench this season. Carter is a consummate professional who could start for quite a few teams. Not once has he complained publicly about his role and was prepared when given the opportunity to play. The Nuggets have not missed a beat with Carter in the lineup. His approach is typical of other Nuggets veterans, including Malik Allen and Joey Graham. Even Johan Petro has stepped in and given Denver productive minutes while K-Mart’s knee recovers.

Most professional sport seasons are too long in my opinion. The primary reason for the lengthy regular season is financial. Even God can’t argue with the Almighty dollar. That aside, a team will either have their weaknesses exposed or develop the roster depth to be a championship contender. The Nuggets are developing the pedigree necessary to win a championship.

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