As the Denver Nuggets finish preparations for the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday, it becomes increasingly clear how important Thursday is. The Nuggets are expected to be active in trade discussions on the first two rounds of drafting and defense issues. There have already been rumors of Denver’s interest in trading in drafts, and rumors of Monte Morris and Will Barton are commercially available.
The Nuggets are clearly busy and understand the seriousness of the situation. They study the league and identify possible opportunities. In these conversations, it is clear that opposing teams may or may not be willing to deal with Denver, and this will may depend on how much the Nuggets plan to sweeten the pot. As discussed on Sunday, Nuggets has options 21 and 30 for trade talks. They have young prospects Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji along with veterans Will Barton, Monte Morris and Jeff Green. Denver is likely to offer a combination of these players and options to make the deal easier.
The biggest questions remain: which players does the Nuggets target in deals? How much do they offer to find the best one possible? Are these respective teams really interested in such a move?
Let’s take a look at the wide web and discuss who Nuggets can target in this week’s deals:
Level 1 – is not an innovation, but better suited
De’Anthony Melton – Guard, Memphis Grizzlies
Trade: Melton to Denver, Monte Morris to Memphis OR Melton to Denver, 21st choice, $ 8.2 million player exception for Memphis
Melton is one of the best defensive guards in the entire NBA. His 3.0% theft rate during the first four seasons of his career puts him in rare company. The only players to account for this number of thefts in this century are Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Manu Ginobili, Speedy Claxton, Kris Dunn, Kawhi Leonard and Jamaal Tinsley.
The Nuggets need defensive players, and Melton represents a suitable elite next to Jamal Murray on Denver’s backyard. Since the Grizzlies could lose Tyus Jones in a free agency, Monte Morris would replace the explosive but obvious need for a competent defender behind And Moranti.
Dillon Brooks – Wing, Memphis Grizzlies
Exchange: Brooks to Denver, Will Barton and 2024 second round selection via OKC to Memphis
The back of the Grizzlies also features Dillon Brooks, a 6’7-inch winger who has little conscience in the choice of shots. The Nuggets don’t need a second volley, especially as Brooks strikes again with a three-point throw of 30.9%. They could definitely use Brooks’ physical perimeter protection. The Grizzlies may not specifically need Barton back (and Morris may just as well be here), but Barton went to the University of Memphis and can enjoy a return to his college trampoline.
Josh Richardson – Wing, San Antonio Spurs
Trade: Richardson to Denver, Barton to San Antonio
Richardson was traded to Derrick White on Spurs’ last shift and spent most of the season off the bench. Richardson, however, played pretty well, hitting a 41.5% three-point throw after a few low seasons. His main business card is protection, though a versatile long-handed winger. He would definitely help Denver’s outfield. Barton may be better suited to be the goalkeeper behind the bench behind Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson (or a candidate for a substitute).
Matisse Thybulle – Wing, Philadelphia 76ers
Exchange: Thybulle, Danny Green and 23rd choice to Denver, Barton Philadelphia
This trade was actually offered NBC Sports Philadelphia in the recent draft and it makes sense for both parties. The Sixers will add James Harden and Tire Maxey to a more consistent shooter and game manager, and the Nuggets to Thybulle and 23rd. Thybulle is not best suited to Denver due to a lack of offensive talent, but his defensive influence cannot be questioned. The Nuggets need to seize the opportunity, and the addition of a double defender who has only played three seasons in the NBA seems like a decent bet. Denver will also be the second first-round player to Green, who is treating a ruptured ACL and is likely to be out all year.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Wing, Washington Wizards
Trade: Caldwell-Pope and 2025 Defended First Round Choice in Denver, Barton and 21st Choice in Washington
One of the easiest matches between a player and a team is Caldwell-Pope and Nuggets. In the last five seasons between the Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers, KCP has averaged 11.5 points, taken 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 innings per 28.4 minutes, scoring 38% of the three-point throw. Its floor space and protection fit well with what competitors need, and the Nuggets matched it. It’s easy to see KCP slip into the starting point of the kick-off, protecting the ball handlers while leaving the floor spaces for Murray and Jokić.
For Wizards, Barton is a stronger scorer and game manager than KCP for others. The Wizards were ranked 21st last year in offensive ratings and could use more perimeter players around Bradley Beal.
Terance Mann – Guard, Los Angeles Clippers
Trade: Mann to Denver, Morris to Los Angeles
Clippers have almost everything they need for a competitive play-off. The only real question mark (except for health) is the scoring game. Reggie Jackson was a good starter last year, but not a great one, and the Clippers have decided to go behind the scores on commissions. Maybe Morris is another stabilizer for a fairly volatile list. In return, the Nuggets receive Mann, a physical combined guard with strong defensive skills. He would fit in perfectly with Murray and Jokić.
Level 2 – Moderate upgrade
Josh Hart – Wing, Portland Trail Blazers
Exchange: Hart to Denver, Barton, 21st choice and 2024 second round selection via OKC Portland
Josh Hart traded in CJ McCollum’s transaction with Portland before the 2022 deadline. He had some success with Blazers, but there are questions about Portland’s vision and the direction of Damian Lillard’s capable veterans. Hart would be an incredible help in Denver as a link to the original lineup. Perhaps Lillard would be interested in reuniting with former teammate Barton, and Blazers could add additional draft options to the deal, improving the rest of the list.
I am also thinking of a tripartite deal that would send Hart to Denver, Jerami Grant to Portland and players / voters to Detroit.
Derrick White – Guard, Boston Celtics
Trade: White and Daniel Theis to Denver, Morris and Barton to Boston
Celtics acquired White from Spurs and helped them reach their first NBA Finals in 2010. Unfortunately, White’s attack weaknesses against Warriors were highlighted, and there is a possibility that Celtics may regret buyers.
If so, the Nuggets should intervene. White fits theoretically perfectly next to the original line-up Murray and Porter. He is a smart and high IQ defender who also has some playing skills in tribulation. The Nuggets could use it and the Celtics could use the backfield stability that Morris and Barton both offer.
Bogdan Bogdanovic – Wing, Atlanta Hawks
Exchange: Bogdanovic to Denver, Barton, Jeff Green and 30th choice to Atlanta
The Hawks are making waves with their staff’s moves this off-season, and one of the players who could be in the crossfire is Bogdanovic, with the Serbian side shooting 38.4% of his three-point throw during his career. Bogdanovic is not the best defender on the market, but he is capable, and the versatility of his attack (and his ties to Jokić) could make up the difference.
It remains to be seen whether the Hawks will be genuinely interested in the trade package proposed above. Perhaps other changes to their roster could make Hawks more interested in a package that includes Barton, Green, and a first-round selection.
Luguentz Dort – Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
Exchange: Dort, 34th Choice to Denver, Zeke Nnaji, 21st Choice and 2029 Defended First Round Selection to Oklahoma City
One of the best (potentially) available defenders, Lu Dort would be a great match for the Nuggets as a fifth starter. However, the Nuggets have already made a deal with Thunder, and given that Sam Presti is already in control of Denver’s first-round selection in 2023 AND the first-round selection in 2027, it may not be tempting to send a second future to the same team.
However, when the Nuggets compete seriously, there are few more capable defenders than Dortis. He’s natural, athletic and relentless – all the qualities Michael Malone would love to add.
Level 3 – Large swing
Malcolm Brogdon – Guard, Indiana Pacers
Trade: Brogdon and Round 2 of M23 / HOU / DAL 2023 to Denver, Barton, Green, Bones Hyland and 21st Indiana
When the Nuggets try to get the best player possible without breaking their main group, Malcolm Brogdon is as good as he can be. The 29-year-old guard has thrown an average of 18.9 points in Indiana, given 6.3 rebounds and taken 5.1 rebounds per game, scoring 44.7% and a three-point throw of 35.2%. He is capable of both attacking and reducing, as he proved three seasons at the Milwaukee Bucks before signing with Pacers.
The Pacers are in the midst of a rebuild, and Brogdon is not on Tire’s Haliburton schedule and who the Pacers are generally in sixth place in the draft. The Nuggets can give them another building block in Bones Hyland, as well as the 21st choice. In return, the Nuggets add to Brogdon’s rotation of guards, which includes Murray and Morris, an elite trio of decision-makers in the back square.
OG Anunoby – Forward, Toronto Raptors
Exchange: Anunoby to Denver, Barton, Nnaji, Option 21 and 2029 First Round Selection to Toronto
The idea of acquiring OG Anunoby is a bit out of the box. The Nuggets have always been interested in Anunoby from the 2017 Duff Night. Then they never got him, and since then the Nuggets have added Michael Porter Jr., a mixture of Aaron Gordon and Zeke Nnaji, a bunch of six people. ‘8 “to 6’10” versatility onwards.
Still, Anunoby would be an intriguing addition to Denver’s original lineup. He and Gordon would defend the two best perimeter defenders, and the Nuggets would be able to assemble many formally versatile formations. For Toronto, they acquire Barton as a solid offensive in their rotation, Nnaji is a longtime substitute for Anunoby, and several first-round choices. It’s a big draw, but if Anunoby is the best defender on the market, it may be worth the risk.
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