The Denver Nuggets are bad this season–really bad. So bad that a fire sale is expected to start any day now, with at least two players traded from the team. Others are expected to leave after the season.
There’s been a number of suggestions on how to fix the team. Nuggets management already got two first-round picks for Timofey Mozgov, and reportedly want a first-round pick each for the coveted swingmen Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler. Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Randy Foye are among other players rumored to be on the block.
Denver Post beat writer Christopher Dempsey has now outlined one path back to relevance for Denver, including several trades. The focus is on retooling the roster so coach Brian Shaw can play his “smashmouth” basketball, which he isn’t able to do with the current makeup.
The first step, Dempsey says, is to get Brook Lopez. The Nuggets will likely have to give up a first-round pick along with several players, but Lopez brings immediate low-post scoring and a legitimate starting center.
The next thing Denver should do is trade either Chandler or Afflalo to Portland and insist on getting C.J. McCollum back in the package, since he’s a young player with tremendous upside. If Denver cannot get that deal, they should pursue Lance Stephenson, who is still a good prospect on the wing despite his struggles this season–and he was coached by Shaw during Shaw’s time in Indiana.
The next step is to deal Faried and any other necessary assets, such as their own first-round pick, to move into the top five of the draft and then nab Arizona freshman small forward Stanley Johnson.
“This, of course, works best if Johnson declares for the draft after his season ends. But this is where you nab that highly-coveted college athlete with tons of upside. That player with star potential,” Dempsey said. “The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Johnson fits the bill. First off, he’s a willing defensive player, a high-energy multiple effort guy who plays for one of the nation’s best defensive coaches in Sean Miller. Johnson fights through screens, denies shooters, gets a great hand up on shot contests and gets in passing lanes for steals.”
The last step is to outbid other teams for restricted free agent Greg Monroe, who would give Denver another low-post threat, this time at the power forward position.
If this roster change could happen, Lawson would remain the starting point guard, and Danilo Gallinari could play starting small forward, but be joined by three new starters–McCollum or Stephenson at shooting guard, and Monroe and Lopez at the big men positions.