The Denver Nuggets were swept in the second round by the Phoenix Suns even with Nikola Jokic's heroic performances. There is no doubt that the MVP needs some more offensive firepower on the roster, especially considering the fact that Jamal Murray will be out with injury for a very long time, as ACL injuries generally take around a year to fully recover from.
Even though the Denver Nuggets have a solid core, championships are won with star power. The Denver Nuggets could potentially make a move to get Nikola Jokic another star player and potentially build a championship level core. Here are five stars that would increase Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets' chances of winning a championship.
5. Jimmy Butler
Denver Nuggets Receive: Jimmy Butler
Miami Heat Receive: Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Bol Bol, a future first-round pick, a future second-round pick
While Jimmy Butler didn't have the best playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, he still made the All-Star game last season, and the All-Defensive team this season. His numbers were fairly solid across the board in 2020-21 too: 21.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 6.9 APG, as well as a career-high 2.1 SPG. He would be a solid ballhandler next to Jamal Murray and would take some of the playmaking burden off of Nikola Jokic.
The Miami Heat are a team at a crossroads, and perhaps trading Jimmy Butler for some younger players would allow them to rebuild around Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. This move would also give Jimmy Butler an opportunity to win a championship, making it a win-win. The Miami Heat would get 2 solid players in Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris. Gordon is a great defender who can guard 1-4, while Monte Morris has shown he can score given the requisite touches. The Heat would also get a skilled project player in Bol Bol as well as future draft compensation for Butler.
4. Pascal Siakam
Denver Nuggets Receive: Pascal Siakam
Toronto Raptors Receive: Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, a future first-round pick
Pascal Siakam's Toronto Raptors didn't do so well this season, only finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference. However, Pascal Siakam is 27 years old and is about to enter his prime. He put up 21.4 PPG and 7.2 RPG while averaging a career-high 4.5 APG as well. There is no doubt that Pascal Siakam would be a great addition to the Denver Nuggets, and that he would be a great tertiary option behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
The Denver Nuggets would have to give up Aaron Gordon as the salary base for this deal. Will Barton is a solid spark plug scorer, and in this scenario, he would either accept his player option or agree to a sign and trade to Toronto. Bol Bol and PJ Dozier would be young players who could thrive with Toronto's development system, as it is that very system that helped Siakam become an amazing NBA player. The future picks will be good for Toronto as well, as they have been known to find diamonds in the rough, even with later picks.
3. Zach LaVine
Denver Nuggets Receive: Zach LaVine
Chicago Bulls Receive: Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, a future first-round pick
Zach LaVine's offensive skillset would be perfect for what the Denver Nuggets want: shot creation and a third scorer who can potentially have big nights. Zach LaVine earned his first All-Star selection this season and averaged 27.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 4.9 APG. He is putting up these numbers while being the main offensive threat on the Chicago Bulls. While the Chicago Bulls did end up trading for All-Star Nikola Vucevic to try and help him, Chicago still ended up missing the play-in tournament. Zach LaVine deserves the opportunity to win, and perhaps the Nuggets can provide it.
The Denver Nuggets would once again send out Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris for the salary. Monte Morris could definitely help them replace some of the scorings that LaVine provides. Even though Zach LaVine will be on the last year of his deal in 2022, he will still be hard to get as one of the best young stars in the league. The Nuggets would have to send out some assets for the Chicago Bulls to build their future as well. The future pick is part of that, and so are the young prospects. PJ Dozier is a solid defender who could develop a better offensive game given more minutes, and Bol Bol is a fairly skilled prospect who needs minutes period. Those prospects could thrive given more touches on the Chicago Bulls.
2. Bradley Beal
Denver Nuggets Receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Bol Bol, two future first-round picks
Bradley Beal finished as a runner-up for the 2020-21 scoring title, and yet despite his scoring exploits, he is still a player that is glossed over by many due to his lack of team success. Bradley Beal averaged 31.3 PPG during the regular season this year. On the Denver Nuggets, he would have an even easier time scoring due to Nikola Jokic's playmaking, and having other capable offensive players would make his life even easier.
The Denver Nuggets likely don't want to give away Michael Porter Jr. this offseason unless it is in a trade for a superstar. Bradley Beal fits that category: he is one of the top scorers in the league, and many would love to have him on their team.
Despite the fact that Michael Porter Jr. had a great season, he would have to be included in this trade for the Wizards to consider trading Beal. Aaron Gordon and Will Barton would come with him to match Beal's salary, while Bol Bol and two future first-round picks would give them some future prospects. While this may seem like a lot to give up, we have to remember that superstars in the modern era often require a team to forfeit most of their assets in order to upgrade the star power on their team.
1. Damian Lillard
Denver Nuggets Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jamal Murray, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, two future first-round picks, two future second-round picks
Damian Lillard was once again eliminated in a disappointing fashion in the playoffs with the Portland Trail Blazers, losing to none other than the Nuggets, Despite the fact that the Denver Nuggets were missing core players, the Trail Blazers failed to capitalize. Perhaps it is time for Damian Lillard to go compete for a ring: he has given it all to that franchise, and it is only fair for him to get a chance at getting a ring. If he were paired with Nikola Jokic, that team would be an instant contender.
The Nuggets are in a similar spot with Jamal Murray as they are with Michael Porter Jr.: unless there's a superstar available, they are untouchable. Damian Lillard is certainly a player that any team would try to acquire.
Jamal Murray is a good player that is All-Star caliber. But if the Nuggets wanted to make a win-now move for Lillard, Jamal Murray would likely be the centerpiece of the trade due to talent and salary. They would also have to send out a variety of future picks as draft compensation, as well as two young players in Bol Bol and PJ Dozier. While it is likely that the Portland Trail Blazers will keep Damian Lillard, nothing is impossible in the NBA.