The Nuggets' pricey bench, starring JaVale McGee and Andre Miller

USA TODAY Sports

Denver's not just deep. Its reserve players are pretty pricey, too.

There are so many interesting impacts of the Nuggets' sans superstar model. One of the more important ones is that by spending less on two or three superstars, there's more dough to spend on the bench. Without two $15-20 million players, Denver can get away with giving JaVale McGee $10 million to come off of the bench.

In fact, three of the Nuggets' six most highly paid players this season -- McGee, Andre Miller and Corey Brewer -- are bench players. That will change next season when Ty Lawson's extension kicks in, and Brewer is on track to be a free agent. But few if any other teams can offer up so much of their payroll to multiple non-starters.

This isn't the case of Denver having one bench star, a la Manu Ginobili in San Antonio or Jason Terry in Dallas. This is the Nuggets making a distinct effort to bolster the bench without going cheap. It's something that Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadivé -- the man trying to buy the Sacramento Kings -- discussed recently.

Ranadive wants the Kings to use a bit of "Moneyball" sensibility -- finding talent by sifting through overlooked statistics. For instance, he'd like to increase pay for bench players -- those who play 40 percent of the game but generally earn only one-fifth as much as the starters.

The Warriors pay their bench players decently, too: Jarrett Jack, the injured Brandon Rush and Carl Landry are on solid contracts. But next season, it'll be the typical team structure, with David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry being the highest-paid players not named Richard Jefferson (yikes).

McGee had a solid impact. Miller was a game-changer. It's worth considering how many more teams will look to spend as much cash on their bench as they do their starters going forward.

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