The Denver Nuggets have had an up and down offseason so far, highlighted by the signing of all star Paul Millsap. As a fallout of the signing, the Nuggets were unfortunately unable to retain their scoring leader in Danilo Gallinari, whom they shipped off to the Los Angeles Clippers in a sign and trade deal that netted them a second round draft pick.
The Nuggets now have 6 power forwards under contract for next season. Paul Millsap, Kenneth Faried, 3rd year man Trey Lyles, 2nd year man Juan Hernangomez, rookie Tyler Lydon and veteran Darrell Arthur are all originally power forwards in the NBA.
That leaves the Nuggets extremely thin at the small forward position with only one true small forward on the roster in Wilson Chandler. Players like Juan Hernangomez and Will Barton could slide to the 3 and play a decent chuck of minutes but they won’t be able to keep up with teams who bolster above average small forwards. Hernangomez is still not quick enough to keep up with the traditional forward and the latter is too small to defend against average size small forwards.
Enter Jae Crowder. The Celtics have a small army of wings, and Crowder could become available. Although Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens has recently been quoted stating he doesn’t believe in positional basketball anymore:
“It may be as simple as three positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big.”
Perhaps he has plans to use him as a four. Either way, the Nuggets would use him as a wing, and Crowder would slide right into the starting line up.
It is hard to believe that the Boston Celtics will begin the season with 7 true small forwards on the roster and without a true rebounding presence or starting shooting guard. That’s an area where the Nuggets could easily help them. The Nuggets have exactly what they’re looking for with Kenneth Faried and Will Barton.
Crowder would help the Nuggets on both ends of the court. He is a knock down catch and shoot shooter as he shot 40.7% from 3 last season out of the catch and shoot as per NBA.com. He shot the 3 at a 39.8% clip overall, solidifying him as a respectable shooter from behind the arc.
In an offense run by the best passing center in the NBA in Nikola Jokic, Crowder would thrive off the ball as he is an elite backdoor cutter much like Gary Harris. Although Crowder would fit in perfectly with the Nuggets’ offense, his true value would come at the defensive end. Out of all of the possessions he guarded last season he held his opponents to 41.9% overall from the field. Better yet, he held his opponents to 29.8% from the behind the 3 point line.
Faried is automatically expandable with the acquisition of Millsap and he would immediately impact the Celtics either off the bench or in the starting lineup. He would automatically become their best rebounder which is an area they desperately need help in.
The Celtics lost three of their top rebounders in Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradly and Amir Johnson. The team was also in the bottom 5 in both offensive rebound % and defensive rebound %. Kenneth Faried has a career average of 8.5 rebounds per game which would be the highest on the team.
Will Barton would give the Celtics either a scoring option off the bench at shooting guard behind Marcus Smart or a legitimate starter who could take the pressure off of the rest of the starting lineup. The Nuggets bolstered the 5th best offense last season and had the best ranked offense after starting their Star center Nikola Jokic. They could do without Will Barton’s scoring as they could replace his minutes with sophomores Malik Beasley and Jamal Murray.
The time to cash in on their assets is now. Jokic, Murray and Hernangomez are only getting better and the Nuggets just signed a 32 year old power forward to help lead the team. There is no time to sit and wait for assets to lose their value.
This team needs playoff experience for the young guys and in order to attract future free agents. “Trust the Process” is the phrase being thrown around and it is something that I heavily believe in, but there is such a thing as overvaluing assets.
The Nuggets overvalued Gallinari to the point where he only netted them a 2nd round pick in a sign and trade. They should not let it get to that point with players they don’t actually need on the roster. It’s time to thin the roster, and Crowder should be a top target for this front office.