Approaching 48 hours before the NBA trade deadline, teams have to face reality. On that note the Denver Nuggets are a buyer, and the New Orleans Pelicans are a seller. The Pelicans may have cooled on the idea of trading Lonzo Ball, but there are multiple teams with rumored interest. The Nuggets can now be added to the list.
At first glance, the Nuggets don’t have a need a point guard. Jamal Murray is their second best player. He’s also a scoring guard more than a point guard in the traditional way. Center Nikola Jokic leads the team in assists (8.6 per game), and no one else averages five dimes per game.
Ball is averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game this season, with career-best shooting percentages (42.5 percent from the floor; 38.5 percent from 3-point range). His assist average is down (5.6 per game), but so is his turnover rate (13.7 percent; 2.0 per game).
The Nuggets are near the top of the league in a lot of team passing metrics, both traditional (assists per game) and deeper (secondary assists, potential assists, assists points created). Jokic’s passing prowess clearly enhances all of that. But what if the Nuggets had a point guard who was an elite passer? That’s a scary thought for their opponents.
Using ESPN’s Trade Machine, with a nod to the idea they have offered Bol Bol to the Pelicans in early talks, here’s how the Nuggets could land Ball. And they wouldn’t only get Ball.
Nuggets get: Lonzo Ball, J.J. Redick
Pelicans get: Gary Harris, Bol Bol
The Nuggets have been a good but not great team in the West for too long. Finding the piece that can push them over the top suddenly feels more urgent, as the Lakers deal with the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis now. The Clippers are also interested in Ball as they search for a point guard. So if the Nuggets can get him, there would be a secondary benefit there.