The Denver Nuggets added two new players before the NBA’s trade deadline, and call me crazy, but I actually like the pick ups. No, they won’t make much of a difference on the outcome of this season or the next, if they’re still on the roster — and that’s a big IF, folks. But they can make an impression on the Nuggets’ young corps, developing good habits for the future.

I know what you are saying: How in the world will D.J. Augustin and some guy named JaKarr Sampson help this young Nuggets team?

Lets start with Augustin. The trade to acquire the former Texas Longhorn point guard originally had me thinking that the team was going to lose Jameer Nelson for the year, which very well may be true; the chances of him coming back and having a significant role are small, even if he does make a reappearance at some point. After watching Augustin in a couple of games as a Nugget, though, I’m pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have high expectations, but he brings an attitude that Emmanuel Mudiay needs to adopt.

As a 19 year old kid, I can understand moments when Mudiay might be intimidated, but more than halfway through his first season, it’s time for him to step up and accept the nightly challenge — embrace it.

Despite Augustin not being starting-point-guard quality, he has the swagger and attitude of someone who thinks he belongs. Mudiay needs to know he belongs and show the rest of the league he does, too. In the game against the Kings, Mudiay missed the entire fourth quarter. It was no coincidence, either, that it just so happened to be Denver’s best quarter. Mudiay became a liability on defense, and Malone wanted the win. Mudiay needs to use those moments as fuel to improve on that side of the ball so he can play in crucial moments down the stretch.

It’s not likely D.J. will be in Denver next season, but if he can pass on the attitude, defensive prowess and mindset of proving “I’m better than you” to Mudiay, his brief stint will be a good one.

Now, onto the guy that made us all go “who the?,” and that is JaKarr Sampson. The second year player out of St. John’s University isn’t exactly an NBA star. In fact, if you don’t live in Philly or Denver and follow the NBA very closely, you’ve probably never heard of him. But he brings something to this team that it desperately needs: defense, particularly when the opponent goes small.

Sampson comes to Denver only averaging 5.1 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game in his 14 minutes. Like Kenneth Faried, Sampson is a bit undersized, but a lot of defense is played with heart and effort. Sampson has and gives more of both than Faried.

When signed by Denver, Sampson knew it was because of his defense. He mentioned that he could “guard every position on the floor.”

Add his effort on that end with Gary Harris, and this team might just be able to identify themselves as a defensive team — maybe …

Still, it doesn’t matter what these guys bring to the table this year; it really doesn’t. What matters is that the Denver Nuggets are prepared and primed to succeed next season and the seasons after that. If, between Augustin and Sampson, one of these guys can make a lasting impact on the culture and attitude of the team, their salary will have been worth every penny.