The Denver Nuggets will begin the 2013-2014 NBA season at a bit of a disadvantage and not just because they no longer have Andre Iguodala on their roster. Their starting small forward, Danilo Gallinari, won’t be able to take the floor at the start of the season as he’s still recovering from a partially torn ACL that he suffered late last season.
With Gallinari likely out of the lineup until at least the middle of the year, that leaves a hole in the Nuggets’ rotation on the wings. Wilson Chandler will likely slide in at small forward and Quincy Miller could see more time off of the bench. However, the most intriguing player that could find minutes in their rotation is third-year wing Jordan Hamilton.
Hamilton didn’t see the floor particularly much in his second season with Denver last year, playing in just 40 games and playing only 9.9 minutes per game. However, he put up impressive per-36-minute numbers in that extremely limited role. The 22-year-old averaged 18.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes last season while shooting a solid 37 percent from long-range. To put those numbers in perspective, only 16 other wing players under the age of 25 averaged a per-36-minute line as good as or better than Hamilton’s.
The obvious issue with Hamilton is whether or not he will be able to translate his success in limited time to an increased role. Hamilton has the ability to be a solid defender on the wing that creates turnovers and can knock down shots consistently from long-range. Both of those skills would be nice assets in the Nuggets’ rotation. There’s no telling if he will still find minutes once Gallo returns, but the youngster could impress if and when he does get the chance early this season.
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