The Denver Nuggets were swept by the Phoenix Suns in the second round despite the heroic performances of Nikola Jokic. There is no doubt that the MVP needs more offensive firepower in the roster, especially considering that Jamal Murray will be out injured for a very long time, as ACL injuries generally take about a year to fully recover.
Even if the Denver Nuggets have a solid core, championships are won with star power. The Denver Nuggets could potentially take a step to make Nikola Jokic another star player and potentially build a championship-level core. Here are five stars that would increase Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets’ chances of winning a championship.
5. Jimmy Butler
Denver Nuggets Received: Jimmy Butler
Miami Heat received: Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Bol Bol, a future first-round pick, a future second-round pick
While Jimmy Butler didn’t have the best playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, he still made it into the All-Star game last season and the All-Defensive team this season. His numbers were also pretty solid across the board in 2020-21: 21.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 6.9 APG, plus a career high of 2.1 SPG. He would be a solid ball handler alongside Jamal Murray and would take some of the playmaker’s load off Nikola Jokic.
The Miami Heat are a team at a crossroads, and perhaps it would allow them to trade in Jimmy Butler for some younger players to build around Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. This move would also give Jimmy Butler an opportunity to win a championship, making it a win-win situation. The Miami Heat would get 2 solid players with Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris. Gordon is a great defender who can defend 1-4 while Monte Morris has proven he can hit with the touches required. The Heat would also get a seasoned project player in Bol Bol as well as future draft compensation for Butler.
4. Pascal Siakam
Denver Nuggets received: Pascal Siakam
Toronto Raptors receive: Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, a future first round election
Pascal Siakam’s Toronto Raptors did not do that well this season, only finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference. However, Pascal Siakam is 27 years old and is about to bloom. He put on 21.4 PPG and 7.2 RPG, while averaging a career high of 4.5 APG. There is no doubt that Pascal Siakam would be a great addition to the Denver Nuggets and that he would be a great tertiary option behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
The Denver Nuggets would have to give up Aaron Gordon as the salary base for this deal. Will Barton is a solid spark plug scorer, and in this scenario he would either accept his player option or agree to sign and trade to Toronto. Bol Bol and PJ Dozier would be young players who could be successful with Toronto’s development system as it is precisely this system that has helped Siakam become an amazing NBA player. The future picks will be good for Toronto too, as they are known to find rough diamonds on later picks as well.
3. Zach LaVine
Denver Nuggets Received: Zach LaVine
Chicago Bulls get: Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, a future first round pick
Zach LaVine’s offensive skills would be perfect for what the Denver Nuggets want: shot creation and a third scorer who can potentially have big nights. Zach LaVine received his first All-Star selection this season, averaging 27.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 4.9 APG. He provides these numbers and is also the main offensive threat to the Chicago Bulls. While the Chicago Bulls eventually took action against all-star Nikola Vucevic to help him out, Chicago missed the play-in tournament. Zach LaVine deserves the chance to win, and maybe the Nuggets can offer it.
The Denver Nuggets would again send out Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris for salary. Monte Morris could definitely help them replace some of the scorings provided by LaVine. Even if Zach LaVine will be his final year of his contract in 2022, he’ll still be hard to come by as one of the league’s top up-and-coming stars. The Nuggets would also have to send out some assets for the Chicago Bulls to build their future as well. The future selection is part of it, as well as the young perspectives. PJ Dozier is a solid defender who could develop a better offensive game with more minutes and Bol Bol is a fairly seasoned candidate who takes minutes. That prospect could thrive if the Chicago Bulls are more touched.
2. Bradley Beal
Denver Nuggets Received: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards received: Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Bol Bol, two future first-round picks
Bradley Beal finished runner-up for the 2020-21 scoring title and yet despite his scoring he is still a player glossed over by many for his lack of team success. Bradley Beal averaged 31.3 PPG in the regular season this year. At the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic’s playmaking would make it even easier for him to score, and other skilled attackers would make his life even easier.
The Denver Nuggets are unlikely to want to give up Michael Porter Jr. this off-season unless it’s a swap for a superstar. Bradley Beal fits into that category: he’s one of the league’s top scorer, and many would love to have him on their team.
Despite the fact that Michael Porter Jr. had a great season, he would have to be included in this trade for the wizards to consider trading Beal. Aaron Gordon and Will Barton would come along to match Beal’s salary, while Bol Bol and two future first-round picks would give them some future prospects. While this may seem like too much, we need to remember that in modern times, superstars often require a team to forfeit most of their assets in order to improve their team’s star power.
1. Damian Lillard
Denver Nuggets Received: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers received: Jamal Murray, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, two future first round picks, two future second round picks
Damian Lillard was disappointed again in the playoffs with the Portland Trail Blazers and lost to none other than the Nuggets. Despite the fact that the Denver Nuggets lacked core players, the Trail Blazers couldn’t capitalize on it. Maybe it’s time Damian Lillard battles for a ring: he’s given everything to this franchise and it’s only fair for him to get a chance at a ring. If paired with Nikola Jokic this team would be an immediate contender.
The nuggets are in a similar situation with Jamal Murray as with Michael Porter Jr .: If no superstar is available, they are untouchable. Damian Lillard is certainly a player that any team would try to acquire.
Jamal Murray is a good all-star player. But if the Nuggets were going to win Lillard, Jamal Murray would likely be at the heart of the deal because of talent and salary. They would also have to send out a variety of future picks as draft compensation as well as two young players in Bol Bol and PJ Dozier. While the Portland Trail Blazers are likely to keep Damian Lillard, nothing is impossible in the NBA.