JaVale McGee Returns to Denver in Deadline Trade.

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After the Nuggets made a splash with Orlando, they went and made the savvy move to bring back JaVale McGee. Shoring up their rim protection.

Denver showed just how prudent they are at evaluating their own roster in trading for former Nugget JaVale McGee. The fact Denver got him for essentially peanuts, is impressive. They only gave up Isaiah Hartenstein and two 2nd-rounders in 2027 (unprotected) and 2023 (pick protected through No. 46) to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is essentially a bag of chips for what McGee will do with rim protection and elevating the defensive energy whenever Jokic needs a breath. I also see some scenarios against certain opponents where you may see both on the court at the same time.

Nobody carry’s a team the way Nikola does, and as a result, no other team has the offensive and defensive drop-off when their big leaves the court like the Nuggets do. This was a specific move meant to alleviate the pressure on Jokic to play every minute of every game. It also allows him to hopefully relax when he is on the bench knowing his replacement is still at a starter level for a lot of NBA teams. The forward-thinking of this front office never ceases to impress me.

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Even more so than the trade for Aaron Gordon, the box score watchers won’t understand the impact. His slash of 8 pts/5.2 rebs/1 assists doesn’t exactly leap off the page. But the Nuggets least needed attribute was scoring talent. They already have that in droves. What they needed was big to come off the bench and give those 5+ rebounds and 1 block per game. Jokic is the only player on the Denver roster averaging more than 1.0 blocks-per-game. The entire sports media industry has talked en masse about the rebounding and defensive issues that have held this squad back.

Well, enter a Nuggets front office who saw the same deficiency and made 2 trades to completely flip the script and gave up almost nothing of the future to do so. Kudos to Calvin Booth and the company for strengthening the roster without mortgaging the future. And got 3 players that were 30 or younger in the process. JaVale McGee is 30, Gordon is 25, and Gary Clark is 26. These are not strictly “win now”, but “win from now on”, type of moves. But are they the ones to take them over the top? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let’s enjoy what this group is capable of on the floor each night.

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One of the biggest things JaVale brings will never show up on any box score. The man is a dawg on the court, do not discount the change in aggression that was shown in the Western Bubble Conference Finals, when L.A. went big with AD/JaVale/Dwight. The Nuggets did not have a single dude that you worried about throwing a pillow, let alone a punch outside of Paul Milsap on occasion. Now they got 1 guy hungry for his first take of success, and the other that can remind the rest how close they were just a few short months ago. And more importantly, what it feels like to complete the journey.

What Aaron Gordon Brings to Nuggets

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After a beat-down in Toronto, the Denver Nuggets decided to make a splash at the deadline. Bringing in much-needed athleticism and defense.

The Denver Nuggets just put themselves above the rim by trading some good pieces to elevate this squad in Aaron Gordon after their biggest loss of the season. In a year that has seen 25 Joker Jams, Blue Arrow elevating more than usual, and MPJ finally putting fear into opponents when he enters the paint. The Nuggets decided they needed to raise the elevation despite already being a mile above sea level. Ok, I promise to keep the heights of my analogies to a minimum from here on out.

The seriousness of this trade needs to be discussed after all. Aaron Gordon immediately becomes the most athletic player on a roster that already includes the above 3 freaks. Not to mention the ones buried on the bench, Gordon’s Dunk contest snubs are those of lore. Seriously though D-Wade, how do you give a 9 when the dude cleared Tacko Fall? But none of that matters now, and I am positive Gordon will never care about these moments if he can get to a Chip.

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If you can’t tell by now, I am extremely pumped about this move. Even with the fact that the Nuggets had to give up a lot of young talent in RJ Hampton and a future 1st-round pick, and the perimeter defense of Gary Harris. But what they get in return with Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark is what you do when you have a top-3 of Jokic/Murray/Porter Jr. It’s wonderful when you are in a market rife with pro-sports front-office dysfunction. To see one that gets it when they have a chance and actually go for it is almost therapeutic.

I can give you the numbers, but they will not do Gordon justice in what he brings to this team. And I know some will say Denver may have given up too much. I just can’t get on that boat. A 1st-rounder 4 years from now, a decent back-up, and a high-ceiling youngster is about par for this type of talent. Gordon’s slash of 14.6 pts/4.2 ast/6.6 rebs will undoubtedly go up on a roster where no-one can double team. He is no longer the feature, he gets to breathe and just ball. The NBA should be worried no matter where Gordon is slotted between the 3-4. It’s 2020 people, who cares what “number” you put next to their position? Just put your best 5 out there and in the best position to succeed.

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The length and athleticism of this roster, and especially the starting 5 is astonishing with the JaVale McGee trade adding even more depth to the Land O’ Giants lineup the Nuggets can employ. With a Gordon/Milsap/Jokic/Murray/Porter Jr. starting lineup, you have 4-out-of-5 starters that are 6’7″ or taller. And every one of those guys can put it down as well as hit enough from 3 to scare anyone. Outside of both L.A. squads, I don’t see another roster that can match that size/speed/athleticism. And both those rosters have to be fully healthy, something Denver is finally getting to themselves.

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I haven’t even mentioned the all-NBA type defense Gordon is capable of that should infuse energy into that side of the ball we haven’t seen from this team. He’s also a great mentor for MPJ as they are almost identical in body type, but opposite in-game. While MPJ has the sweet-stroke to knock down 3’s with ease, Gordon is a physical banger than loves to take it to the rim. The complement is pure synergy and should elevate both to new levels.

Tomorrow in New Orleans will be a must-see with Zion and company being the first test of this newly tinkered chemistry. I foresee an impressive display of elite athleticism that could become an instant classic with more posters than can be fiscally printed. They better reinforce the rims at the Smoothie King Center, the rafters will shake.