What the Denver Nuggets gained
THE KING IS HOME. JAVALEEEEEEEE MCGEE. Javale was in Denver from 2011-15. Quite possibly the height of this ‘Shaqtin’ highlight days. But a lot has changed since he skipped town!
Javale is a solid defensive center who can finish around the basket and has started for two different title teams in the past five years. Those are legit accolades, some that we really thought Javale would not end up with. The Nuggets sent Isaiah Hartenstein and two second rounders to the Cavaliers to attain McGee’s services, that’s not nothing.
And he should be useful for the Nuggets. He likely won’t play a ton of minutes past the first round of the playoffs (unless they play a center-laden team like the Lakers) but he can keep things calm when Jokic is off the floor. Which will not be very long in the playoffs. I’d say they have a contributor at least as impactful as Plumlee back in that slot.
The big move of theirs at the deadline was to acquire Magic forward Aaron Gordon. They sent Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a protected 2025 first rounder in return for the high-flying Gordon and Gary Clark.
I’ll cover the loss of Harris and co. means for the Nuggets in the next section but first: the addition of Aaron Gordon.
Gordon profiles as somewhat the same mold as Jerami Grant. A wing that can hold his own on the defensive end, can hit open shots, and possesses other-worldly athleticism (even for NBA players). I think Grant is a bit better as a shot-creator. While Grant is averaging 22 points a game in his first season as a top offensive option, Gordon never eclipsed more than 18 in Orlando despite being asked to create a lot on his own. But I don’t think they need that as much.
Michael Porter Jr. has blossomed offensively in a starting role this season and should still be considered the third option on the team despite the trade for Gordon. No, Gordon’s job will be to defend big guards and wings in the playoffs. To be fully honest, he is by no means an elite defender.
Despite insisting on guarding the better players on the other team in Orlando (when Jonathan Isaac is not healthy which…was often) and stating that DPOY was one of his goals, Gordon has not really come close to sniffing an All-Defensive slot. But there really wasn’t one of those guys available at the trade deadline.
Gordon is another body they can throw at the Kawhi’s and LeBron’s, though. It can be enough. Despite not being incredible at creating his own shot, it should not be much of a concern. He is playing with the best playmaker at center in the league (maybe that we have ever seen?).
Gordon is incredible off the ball. He knows when to cut, where to relocate, and can leverage his athleticism against defenders better than most. All things Jokic will love. We already saw several Gordon cuts end in wide-open dunks because of the early chemistry between the two. It is another wrinkle in the offense that the team can throw at opponents. Does it take them over the top, though?