According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Isaiah Thomas is going to make his season debut tonight for the Nuggets. His debut for the team, while exciting, brings Denver an interesting dilemma. Whose minutes will be cut so that IT can get some time? Here I’m going to give my take on how Denver can fit IT into the lineup without sacrificing minutes for crucial players.
Isaiah isn’t going to take Monte Morris’ minutes. He just can’t. Morris has been one of, if not the most consistent player on this Denver team. His leadership and stability are a huge reason why this team is sitting 20 games over .500. Due to this, his minutes can’t be cut for IT.
Malik Beasley is in the same boat as Morris. He’s been incredible this season, and his contributions to the team have elevated them to one of the best teams in the league. Cutting his minute would be silly, and something I don’t see Denver doing. So, where do Isaiah’s minutes come?
I think the best thing for the Nuggets to do would to cut Trey Lyles’ minutes. Lyles has been pretty awful this season for Denver despite getting a decent amount of playing time most games. Lyles is shooting 42% from the field and 25% from 3 this season. He’s a weak defender, and the team would be better off cutting his minutes than guys like Morris and Beasley.
I propose Denver should run a lineup of Thomas, Murray, Beasley, Craig, and Plumlee. I think having Thomas play point guard and pushing Murray off-ball is the best scenario here. For one, I think Jamal Murray is best off-ball. I don’t like the potential fit of Thomas and Morris. There isn’t enough size there. However, Thomas and Murray would provide an arsenal of offensive firepower for your second unit. Pushing Beasley to the 3 works, and having Craig at the 4 isn’t an awful fit. It’d be a small front 4, but it’s doable. Other potential lineups I like with IT are Thomas, Beasley, Barton, Vanderbilt, Jokic or Murray, Thomas, Barton, Millsap, Plumlee.
There is a way for Denver to incorporate Thomas into their offense without losing what has made the team so successful this season.
Today Thomas gave the following quote, “My job is to stand out not fit in.” He knows that this isn’t his team, and I’m confident that Isaiah Thomas’ presence will only help the Nuggets. Thomas has had almost a year to get healthy and I’m hoping we’re going to see more of Boston Isaiah Thomas rather than Cleveland Isaiah Thomas. The best way for Denver to unleash Thomas’ potential is to cut Trey Lyles’ minutes. The team could play small, and I think swapping out Thomas for Lyles is a net gain. We’ll see what happens tonight, as Isaiah Thomas is set to make his season debut for the Nuggets tonight against the Kings.
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