The Denver Nuggets are off to a 22-20 start, and with the NBA trade deadline coming on Feb. 8, The Nuggets will likely look to move several pieces to improve their chances of moving up the ranks in the Western conference. The Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Portland Trailblazers are all currently tied for the fifth spot in the Western Conference, but only lead by 1.5 games over the ninth seed. All moves made before the deadline will be critical, and will have a huge impact on seeding and making the playoffs.
Long time fan favorite Kenneth Faried has been a subject of trade rumors in Denver, as he has only played in 28 of the Nuggets 42 contests, averaging just over 15 minutes played per game. Faried has averaged 6.4 points and five rebounds, a marked drop off from his career averages of 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. The Nuggets are paying Faried almost $13 million per year to sit the bench, and many believe the front office would like to move him sooner rather than later.
Another player who could be on the move is third-year guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay, who was the seventh overall pick of the Nuggets in the 2015 draft, was once thought of as the future of the team and a player to build around. However, with the emergence of Jamal Murray as the primary point guard, coupled with Mudiay’s poor performance, it is becoming apparent that Mudiay may be on the move in favor of a more experienced point guard to come off the bench behind Murray.
The Nuggets seem to have two primary needs: an experienced point guard who can bring leadership and consistency, as well as another forward to supplement the loss of Paul Milsap, who is set to return from injury near the end of February. While Mason Plumlee has been adequate in his replacement of Milsap, it will be interesting to see if the Nuggets pursue some extra help in the paint to put less pressure on Milsap’s return.
The Los Angeles Lakers have advertised players like Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle to be available in an attempt to clear cap space to pursue big name free agents this offseason. If the Nuggets were able to move Faried, young players like Nance Jr. or Randle could be a target for Denver.
The Nuggets have been rumored to be interested in Dallas Mavericks veteran guard Devin Harris, who has under-performed thus far in the 2017-2018 season. The Mavericks, who are beginning their rebuild, could want to add young players with large upside such as Emmanuel Mudiay. Harris would bring exactly what the Nuggets need; predictability and experience, especially in the playoffs.
While it the deadline is always unpredictable, it is pretty clear that Faried and Mudiay will be on the trading block and will likely be moved before the Feb. 8 deadline. Will the Nuggets be able to add the correct pieces to make a legitimate run in the Western conference this year? Denver fans certainly hope so.