The Denver Nuggets got off to a rocky start this season, to say the least. After dealing with conference rivals and top-tier rosters like Utah, Indiana and Golden State, the team has now lost three of its last four games, including a nearly 30-point loss to the 9-7 Mavericks less than a week ago.
Denver is a tough team to predict in the first leg of the 2022-23 NBA regular season. Despite an unimpressive 10-7 record, they’re still just a game behind top spot in the Western Conference and have performed admirably against tough opponents. Had they pulled off a win against the Pistons last night, we’d be talking about the Nuggets in a whole different light.
With less than a quarter of the season behind us, it’s far too early to panic. Still, Denver has shown weakness in a few key areas that will surely keep them from fulfilling their potential as a legitimate title contender, particularly on defense. Although there is a suggested trade that might fix anything,
Denver Nuggets Grab Instant Impact Players In Proposed Mega Trade
Suggested by Greg Swartz from Bleacher report, this deal would result in the Denver Nuggets being replaced by rookie Christian Braun, as well as the ever-versatile Zeke Nnaji and journeyman Jeff Green. In return, Denver would get one of the most exciting young centers in the NBA – Jakob Poeltl.
The Denver Nuggets have the 24th-worst defensive rating in the NBA at 113.8 and allow their opponents to have more than 49% of their shots off the field, the third-worst percentage allowed in the league. With 113.6, they also rank in the middle of the opponent rating per game, almost half of which is attributable to the color (53.3).
Essentially, not only are the Nuggets bad at defending around the rim, they’re statistically one of the worst teams in the NBA. Renowned defenders like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and Aaron Gordon have held their own at the perimeter, limiting opponents to 34.8% shooting from the bow, which ranks 10th best in the league. Unfortunately, the central defense is well below the league average.
Luckily, this is an area of the ground that Jakob Poeltl could make an immediate impact on and help propel Denver from an underperforming defense into one of the NBA’s elite defense squads.
Jakob Pöltl is a versatile defender and a sneaky mediator on offense
Poeltl not only has more shots per game (14.2) than any other player in the league a season ago, but he continued that strong performance into the early part of the 2022-23 NBA season. In 17 games, Poeltl averaged 13.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, a block and a steal per contest and shot more than 64% from the field.
While far from an elite shot blocker, he is well above average and incredibly mobile on defense. On offense, his 3.6 assists per game ranks seventh among NBA centers, ahead of long-time favorites like Bam Adebayo and Nikola Vucevic. This elite passing game could also be paired beautifully with Nikola Jokic’s efficient three-point shooting, meaning they could both share the floor together.
He’s the complete package from an offensive and defensive perspective, the question is what would Denver have to give up and would it make sense? Poeltl is only 27 years old and plays with the best basketball of his NBA career. He’s also in the final year of his three-year, $26.3 million contract with Spurs and will have a big payday in the upcoming offseason.
Given the Denver Nuggets’ current cap restrictions, the team likely won’t be able to fire him this offseason even if they traded for him now. However, the mere thought of starting him alongside Jokic, or even getting him off the bench alongside Bones Hyland, is downright scary and could be just what the Nuggets need to regain their footing.
If trading for Jakob Poeltl improves the Denver Nuggets’ chances of winning their first-ever NBA championship, it should be the top consideration for GM Calvin Booth.