Despite Michael Porter Jr. being out for the remainder of the season and Jamal Murray yet to make his 2021-22 debut, the Denver Nuggets are likely buyers at the NBA trade deadline. Why? At 20-18, they’re the sixth seed in what has been a bizarre Western Conference this season.
Head coach Mike Malone has a smooth operation on both ends of the floor, which is of course boosted by Nikola Jokic. With Murray likely returning to the floor at some point down the stretch, the Nuggets can objectively approach their roster with the mindset of getting players who fit in-between Jokic and Murray in hopes of finally winning the West.
Here are three players the Nuggets should target before the NBA trade deadline.
Denver Nuggets get wing shooter in Bryn Forbes
The Nuggets are surprisingly 21st in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage (34.2 percent). A contending team that’s struggling from the perimeter acquires plug-and-play shooters to assume rotation roles, which is what Forbes would do with the Nuggets.
Forbes has been a sly player on the offensive end for the better part of the last four years. He’s a highly efficient outside player who can shoot off the dribble and is experienced with both starting and coming off the bench. With the Nuggets, Forbes would likely come off the bench, where he’d further weaponize a respectable second unit.
- Bryn Forbes stats (2021-22): 8.7 points per game while shooting 42.9/39.7/89.4
Forbes should make a seamless transition into the Nuggets’ rotation, as he’ll either help spread the floor for the starting five or be a buzzsaw from the perimeter for the second unit. He’s a proven shooter who’s accustomed to competing in the playoffs (he was a member of the 2020-21 NBA-champion Milwaukee Bucks and multiple San Antonio Spurs playoff teams).
Denver has the upside to play better both with and without Murray. You can’t have enough shooting in the NBA. Forbes fits the bill, here. Denver can send San Antonio youngsters P.J. Dozier and Vlatko Cancar along with a pair of future second-rounders.
Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NBA power rankings
Denver Nuggets strengthen their operation with Joe Ingles
Denver is respectable out on the wing without Porter, but why not get another proven player to help them on that part of the floor? Ingles, who has been in trade rumors of late, would be an optimum pickup.
While he’s having a down year compared to recent campaigns, Ingles is still a well-rounded player who can make a difference on a contending team. He defends well and is a high-level outside shooter who can handle the rock from time to time. Ingles would be a tremendous fit in the Nuggets’ offense.
- Joe Ingles stats (2021-22): 7.6 points and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 42.7/37.6/77.8
He gives them another shooter to benefit from the attention that Jokic and a healthy Murray attract. Plus, teams will still be more focused on slowing down Aaron Gordon and Will Barton than Ingles given their respective tendencies to attack the rim. Ingles can be a day one starter for the Nuggets or someone who adds versatility to the second unit.
The Nuggets improve their perimeter play while minimally, if at all impacting their offseason options. Denver sends Utah the combination of Austin Rivers and JaMychal Green, who could each be rotation players for Quin Snyder.
Denver Nuggets deepen their backcourt with Dennis Schroder trade
Do the Nuggets need someone like Dennis Schroder? They do not. On the other hand, he’s playing on an expiring contract, having a plausible season with the Boston Celtics and would add more firepower to the Nuggets’ offense.
Schroder would likely begin as the backup point guard, providing an incredible lift for the Nuggets when Morris gets a breather. The former is a sneaky passer who creates his own shot and gets a lot of points by getting around defenders off the dribble. In time, maybe Schroder overtakes Monte Morris as the starting point guard in the scenario Murray’s comeback is further delayed?
- Dennis Schroder stats (2021-22): 16.2 points and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 43.6/33.1/87.3
Furthermore, the Nuggets don’t need Schroder, Morris or any point guard to be a ball-dominant player or the one who creates for others. Jokic’s keen passing ability, as well as him being the center of defensive attention helps clear out the perimeter for Schroder and others to get open looks. This is about having as much offense as possible for the playoffs.
Denver sends Facundo Campazzo, young big man Zeke Nnaji and a first-round draft pick way down the line to Boston. The Nuggets throw a bold move to the wall and see if it sticks while the Celtics get a creative return for a player they likely won’t re-sign after this season.