1: Who is the Nuggets best player?
Currently, there is no denying that the Nuggets best player has been Wilson Chandler. The 29-year-old is playing the best ball of his career while coming off the bench. Even though he has only started two games all season, it has become very clear that Michael Malone trusts Chandler as much as anyone on the team, as down the stretch you can always count on Chandler to be in there taking the big shots. Chandler who is averaging 18.6 points per game has been the Nuggets go-to scorer all season. Without Chandler, this Nuggets team may be in an even deeper hole than they currently are in. While the rest of the Nuggets team has been fairly inconsistent to start this season, Wilson Chandler has done a great job of being the rock of this team.
I’ll tell you this the Nuggets have a lot of talent on their roster. There is only one problem, that talent is being portrayed as potential. Right now, I think it will be a toss up between Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. Yes I know Faried isn’t super talented but he plays day in and day out and makes the correct plays. He has shown that he is working on his game with his 79% FT and he has definitely gotten better on defense. I choose Kenneth Faried.
As the Denver Nuggets sit 7-13 20 games into the young NBA season, their best player thus far has to be Wilson Chandler. He has been doing it all, averaging career highs across the board. The only area that needs to improvement in Ill Will’s game is FT shooting. He should easily be able to shoot 80% plus.
2: Who should the Nuggets target in a trade?
Many have said that the Nuggets have lacked a star or even have been a star away from being a real threat in the league. While there are many stars in the NBA, rarely does a team have a chance at acquiring one via trade. Whether it be because they simply aren’t for sale or the team doesn’t have enough to trade for that certain star, however, the Nuggets do have the assets to go out and make a trade like that. That star comes by the name of Demarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, the former Michael Malone coached player is just what this team needs. Demarcus Cousins has been rumored to be on his way out of Sacramento and has previously been linked to the Denver Nuggets as well. While acquiring Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins will cost you a pretty penny, the Nuggets have the depth to survive it. Would a potential package of, Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris and two first round draft picks be enough to pry the Kentucky product from Sacramento? If so a starting five of Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Jokic/Kenneth Faried, and Demarcus Cousins seems like a team fit to make a run at the Western Conference title.
The Nuggets are in a tough spot. I believe they value their players a lot more than the league does. There is no question that the Nuggets have quality young talent but it is hard to trade for a legit NBA star. I think the Nuggets should focus on prying a power forward who can immediately make them a better team and they won’t have to give up too much. I think someone like Zach Randolph or Pau Gasol would be great additions. To be honest the Nuggets are stacked at every position and it would be good for the young guys to build confidence by winning as they develop, so why not get a player who will help them do just that?
In regards to potential trade targets for the Nuggets I think they should throw all their cards at DeMarcus Cousins (Boogie), Anthony Davis or maybe even Paul George. The Nuggets have the pieces to make a blockbuster trade.
3: How important is it for the Nuggets to make the playoffs this year?
While making the playoffs this season would be a great accomplishment for this very young Denver Nuggets team, I do not feel that it is an essential requirement in making the season beneficial. Coming into the season the Nuggets realistically were hoping to compete for one of the last few playoff spots in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. One of the things that is very important for the Nuggets, regardless of being in playoff contention or not, should be to continue the development of their young core they want to build this team around. Emmanuel Mudiay as he gets more games under his belt will hopefully blossom into the player the Nuggets saw when they drafted him #7 overall in 2015. The continued growth of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic is also something the Nuggets should focus on, regardless of the playoffs. If you continue to get improvement from all players on the roster, the playoffs won’t be too far behind.
I believe it is extremely import for these young Nuggets to make the playoffs. Lets be honest, with as many players as the Nuggets currently have at each position, there is no need for lottery picks. The only position the Nuggets can use a young player at would be Small Forward and I wouldn’t recommend going with an all young lineup (look at the Timberwolves). So I think winning would be a good experience. Maybe if they get a taste of the of the excitement that is playing in the playoffs they’ll work harder to get back there and go further?
Making the playoffs isn’t out of the picture for the Nuggets, but its also not a make or break kind of thing for them. Playing together and learning how to finish games should be priority number 1.
4: Do the Nuggets have a player who can develop into a star?
Absolutely. The obvious call here is Jamal Murray who has flashed signs of the player he could be. His 22 minute, 24 point effort vs the Bulls on November 24 was a small glimpse at just how dominant he could be. The sharpshooter started his NBA career coming out of the gates very cold, but since shaking that off has strung together a very impressive month of basketball. That was highlighted by winning Western Conference Rookie of the Month along with Joel Embiid of the 76ers. Not only is Murray a great scorer but he also has shown his great feel for getting others involved in the offense. His high effectiveness while using the pick and roll has been a huge plus from the Canadian-born guard. The key for Murray is consistency, and if he can find that night in and night out we could be seeing the birth of a star in the Mile High City.
Jamal “Blue Arrow” Murray. I can’t say enough about this kid so I just won’t say anything. I mean did anyone see the recent scoring explosions by this kid? He shows flashes of Curry when at his best and thats encouraging.
A player that I believe that can be a superstar for the Nuggets is the most obvious one out there. The kid, Jamal Murray. He put up Curry like numbers in his one year at Kentucky, shoots lights out, and has that competitive edge that all teams want. I think he can be the Nuggets superstar.
5: Will Emmanuel Mudiay be the Nuggets starting point guard of the future?
In short, yes I do feel Mudiay is the point guard of the future for this Nugget team. But the case of Emmanuel Mudiay is a curious one. While he is still very young at only 20 years old, his numbers this season have been very underwhelming, his turnovers per game are at an alarming 3.2/game while his assist numbers are down to 4.2/game from 5.5/game from last year. Take into account the guard is shooting the ball at sub 36% rate from the field and you get a starting point guard that seems to be doing more bad than good. But I feel it’s still too young to lose hope in the guard and I feel he will improve. You can see it begin to click for Mudiay, he hasn’t had more than 4 TO in a game since mid-November. Don’t lose hope on Mudiay just yet, he may just start to surprise you.
I believe in Mudiay. I know a lot of people have been down on him for his not-so-encouraging improvements this year but he has shown the willingness to change his game. His FT % has improved drastically to the point where he went from liability to a positive. He has begun to play under control and it has showed in the turnovers column. I also believe he plays better with Murray next to him but we will need to see more of those lineups to come up with a conclusion.
If Emmanuel Mudiay wants to be the starting point guard of the future for the Denver Nuggets he is going to have to improve in a couple of areas. If he can become a consistent shooter and cut down on turnovers, he can most definitely be the point guard of the future.
6: Who on the roster should the Nuggets be looking to move?
The player the Nuggets should be looking to trade this season just so happens to be their best player, Wilson Chandler. While Chandler may be playing the best he’s ever played, his value has also never been higher. His numbers and extremely team friendly contract continue to raise his value, the closer we get to the trade deadline. Any team who wants to make a push to attempt to take down the kings of the conferences, the Warriors and Cavs, would love to add the 6 foot 8 forward to their roster. Not only would a team be getting a great player but also a player who can provide great veteran leadership in any locker room. The only thing that remains to be seen is if Tim Connelly pulls the trigger and sends Wilson Chandler packing.
As my colleague Vincent pointed out, Wilson Chandler is the best trade bait on the Nuggets. With his production and his current salary he is extremely appealing to playoff teams looking for legit 2nd or 3rd scorers. He doesn’t hold as much value to the Nuggets as these teams because he’s so good that Malone has to play him and the Nuggets salary situation is favorable. I can see teams offering the Nuggets packages that they will most likely not be able to refuse closer to the trade deadline.
The Nuggets have many pieces that they could be looking to move. I honestly don’t think that anyone on the team is guaranteed a spot on the team next year. They could trade anyone at any time, and they should be looking for an All Star that can close games for this young team.