What the Nuggets should look for in a trade

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While watching the Nuggets these past few months, it's been hard to get a solid feel for how this team is going to perform on a nightly basis.  It seems that most nights, we play little to no defense, unless we are playing a worthy contender.  We play up to the competition, and we play down to the competition.  Melo is leaving, and there is little we can do about it.  Many reporters have been quick to speculate and use "league sources" regarding possible Melo destinations.  I want to move away from these rumors and look at what the Nuggets need in a trade for this year, and for the next 3-5 years. 

Looking to the future of the Nuggets, the next few months will most certainly change the course of our beloved Nuggets for years to come.  Watching these past few games sans Melo has shown me what the Nuggets need in terms of trade.  Before I get to these needs, I'm going to give a quick synopsis of our team, and the styles that we employ.

The Nuggets have wisely chosen to run their offense through Nene the last week or so, which I commend George Karl for.  Nene is showing that he can be a dominant PF/C when fed the ball consistently.  The Nuggets are great when they're moving the ball and making the extra pass.  We can hang with most teams when we play like this.  The problem is that at some point in every game, we hit a wall in terms of offense.  We hit a roadblock when the other team usually switches to some type of zone that seems to baffle our players and entices them to take ill-advised shots. With Melo in the Line-up, we lean on his scoring ability during these stretches to keep the games within reach.  Melo sometimes adds to the problem of bad shots, but he makes a lot of them, which is what makes him so valuable.  He can carry a team for stretches of the game.  There are only 5-10 other guys in the league who can carry an offense by themselves and still win games. 

The problem with this is that all of Melo's offense is predicated on isolation's, which goes against our motion and passing offense. Most of the players on our team need to be set up to be effective scorers. Afflalo, K-Mart, Bird, Nene, Forbes, and Harrington to a lesser extent all need to be put in the correct situation to be at their best.  When these players find themselves trying to create their own shots, it leads to that bad offense that we see during certain parts of every game.  Chauncey, Melo, JR, and Lawson can create their own shots and can excel at isolation plays.  The two better being Melo and JR.  Ty and Chauncey technically must be able to create on their own because they're PG's, but Lawson seems much better at creating his own shot with his dribble penetration.  Chauncey has seen better days, and can't get the separation needed to get off his shots.  That or he misses the open look.  Either way, for this team to do anything without Melo, we need Chauncey to show up and start running the show.  If he can't do that anymore, then we should part with him too.  We need Lawson to continue to step it up and run.  I think that Lawson doesn't run enough, and could score about 6-8 more points per night if he would attack the basket every time he is given the opportunity.  I feel that sometimes he passes when he should shoot, and shoots, when he should pass. In terms of our future, Lawson should be a solid PG for the next 3-5 years.  He is one of the guys I'd deem untouchable in trade talks unless we get someone better in return.

Although JR can make some idiot decisions from time to time, we will need him on this team without Melo for this year.  He is another one of those guys that can create his own shot and can provide instant offense.  The difference between JR and Melo is that Melo is more consistent, and doesn't act as childish sometimes.  The only way we can get ride of JR this year is if we can get another scorer similar to JR, that is more consistent.  Looking past this season, I believe we will let him go, as I think George Karl might explode if the Nuggets signed JR to a long-term extension.

In terms of players that I believe can be involved in a trade are as follows:

K-Mart, Billups, Harrington, and Anderson.  If the Nuggets are going to truly rebuild, then all of these players are expendable. I think that only one of these players would join Melo in a trade.  I could be wrong on this one if the Nuggets attempt to pull a trade a la the Magic, which completely changed that team.  I think that we will trade Melo, but we will wait for the summer to truly rebuild as some of these contracts will come off the books.

The attributes of trades the Nuggets should look for involving Melo are:

1. They must get a player that is able to create their own shot to fill that void left by Melo.  I understand that the efficiency will not be the same, but the player needs to at least have the potential to take over games.

2. We need at least 2-3 #1 picks from lottery eligible teams.  We may end up with more depending on the deal, but we don't want picks from playoff contenders.

3. We must get at least one player younger than Melo.  The main person in the trade has to be younger than Melo unless it's another superstar.  We already have one of the older lineups in the league, so we need to get younger, and in a hurry.

4. We must get one or two players that can play defense, or be coachable on the defensive end. If we are going to be giving up offense ability, we need to get back some defensive toughness.  If we don't we will turn into the Golden State Warriors and a non-factor in the Western Conference.

5. This is not a necessity, but I would like the player to be bigger than Melo.  Our team has been undersized for the last few years, and if we're going to rebuild we might as well get big.

Looking at this list you may realize as I have, that Nuggets basketball is going to drastically change in the next few months.  We will go from possible contenders to possibly out of the playoffs.  We will not contend for a title trading Melo for pennies on the dollar, but that is the situation were faced with.  If we get another star in any of these trades, you can damn well guarantee that they wont be even close to Melo in terms of talent.  We have to hope that the players we get (that aren't fillers) will grow into stars. 

One name that has been mentioned since training camp is Derrick Favors.  The problem with getting Favors for this season is that he can't create his own shot.  Hell he isn't even starting on his own team.  This kid may blossom into a nice PF, but getting him for this year will most certainly send us to the 7-8 seed and possibly out of the playoffs.  If the Nuggets Brass want to keep the fan base interested it would be wise not to get only Favors, picks, and an expiring contract for Melo.  The idea that the Nuggets want cap relief for Melo baffles me a little bit.  At the end of this year we have at least 23 Million coming off the cap with a possibility of shedding 45 million plus.  The Nuggets aren't going to entice big time free agents this summer without a star player or two.  The Nuggets have always had trouble getting good free agents to even consider coming to Denver.  The best way for the Nuggets to acquire great talent will be through the draft and through trades.  Either way, the next few months will determine the next 3-5 years for the Nuggets organization.

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