It’s hard to blame the lukewarm reaction of Nuggets fans to the four-team trade that brought four new faces to the locker room. Denver’s haul doesn’t inspire a deep playoff push or provide that so-called missing piece that opens a path to the championship.
A buzzkill, really.
The countdown to the NBA trade deadline on Friday is still ticking, but barring a surprise twist, Pelicans star Jrue Holliday isn’t busting into Pepsi Center anytime soon. So, beyond a 2020 first-round pick and unloading the expiring contracts of Juancho Hernangomez, what did Denver really gain from all this?
An early analysis of the Nuggets newcomers for the player most likely to make an immediate impact results in a clear frontrunner: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop.
An unfortunate injury bug has crawled into Denver’s frontcourt with big men Paul Millsap (knee) and Mason Plumlee (foot) on the mend, plus wing Michael Porter Jr. day-to-day with an ankle issue. The Nuggets need help. Bates-Diop’s resume suggests he’ll fill in nicely.
The 2018 second-round NBA draft pick isn’t a flashy addition, but he’s shooting 33% behind the arc this year — better than Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. And Bates-Diop’s length at 6-foot-8 and 229 pounds gives Denver a rangy defender capable of absorbing minutes without Millsap and Plumlee on the floor. Bates-Diop might be a second-year pro, but he appeared in 109 career games over four college seasons at Ohio State. He has played against elite competition on big-time stages. His biggest opportunity is now.
Call it a glass-half-full take if you’d like (and you might be correct), but the development of Bates-Diop could be a surprise silver lining in Denver’s roster shuffle. Stay tuned to find out.
Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post
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