December 15th is quickly approaching and for those that don’t know, the fifteenth is a significant date for NBA trade season. It has been referred to as the unofficial beginning of trade season in fact (at least I refer to it as that, I’m sure all of the super smart NBA talking heads do as well). The reason for this is because players who signed contracts in the offseason are not eligible to be traded until December 15th, or 90 days after their contract has been signed, whichever is later. In general, the list of players who signed after September 15th is relatively slim and mostly those players are end of the bench guys (see: Alonzo Gee) so for the most part, December 15th means it’s fully on when it comes to tinkering with the roster. So, in the spirit of trade season beginning next week, we’re proud to present the Denver Stiffs 2nd Annual Trade Rankings! If you want to see how bad I was at placing trade value on our players last season, please click here.
Group A: The Mike Miller group
21. Mike Miller
Miller gets his own spot in the trade value rankings because he really has no trade value. At the very most he could be used to make salaries work if the Nuggets engaged in a trade with one of the few cap strapped teams in the association. Otherwise Miller has no value worth trading for. This is not to say he has no value to the Nuggets, quite the contrary. Miller’s leadership and locker room presence are invaluable to a young team figuring out how to win in the NBA like the Nuggets, but that specifix skill set (and little else) is neither something contenders are looking to trade for nor is it something rebuilding teams are willing to surrender anything of consequence for ergo Miller has the least value of any asset on the team.
Group B: How do you pronounce that again?
20. Yuyang Xue
19. Sani Becirovic
18. Cenk Akyol
17. Izzet Turkyilmaz
Let’s be clear, these guys are NEVER making it to the NBA. Some in fact are not even playing ball in any league anymore. Becirovic is actually now a coach for Panathinaikos B.C. Xue is still playing in Europe but at age 34 his NBA dreams are effectively dead (they were pretty much DOA thanks to the Chinese Basketball Association). Cenk Akyol, the key piece the Nuggets landed when they traded Javale McGee to the Philadelphia 76ers, is about to hit 30 and has been playing in his home country Turkey for sometime and finally this year we are declaring Turkyilmaz’s NBA potential over as well, it’s been four plus years since he even played in summer league. Chances are incredibly slim he’ll ever make it. Nonetheless, for reasons beyond me, these guys every now and again get tossed into a trade so they are technically trade pieces for the Nuggets as they own these players rights.
Group C: Only the super die hards will even notice these pieces got moved
16. Alonzo Gee
15. Petr Cornelie
14. Nikola Radicevic
The savvy Nuggets fan knows Tim Connelly hoodwinked the Thunder into giving him a D.J. Augustin rental and two (2!) second round picks for a rental of Randy Foye and they also know that Connelly has had a decent track record with those picks, including selecting the two players in this group Radicevic and Cornelie. The savvy NBA GM knows that 2nd round picks aren’t worth very much, so often these picks or players get shuffled around without anyone noticing. What keeps Cornelie and Radicevic out of Group A is their age (and Gee is technically an NBA player so he slots in here too). Cornelie is just 21 and Radicevic is just 22 (who also appears to finally be healthy). Radicevic has been playing well of late for Real Betis in Liga ACB, one of the highest regarded European leagues, in fact he’s worked his way into the starting lineup. Cornelie meanwhile has found an off the bench role with Le Mans Sarthe in the French LNB league. Both have the potential to be NBA players, but both are a far from a sure bet. The edge goes to Radicevic in value because he’s starting on a team in a better league
Group D: The rookie unknowns
13. Malik Beasley
12. Juancho Hernangomez
Beasley and Juancho both could have bright futures in the NBA but around the league and even within the confines of the Pepsi Center they are still relative unknowns. Oh they’ve had their flashes, including Juancho’s impressive outing on Saturday against the Orlando Magic, but neither has been able to find a consistent spot in the rotation and Beasley has now been relegated to the D-league. Both could probably net a heavily protected first round pick in return or be a sweetener in a larger deal, but until they show they are NBA capable on a much more regular basis their trade valuable will remain relatively little.
Group E: The old reliable group
11. Jameer Nelson
10. Darrell Arthur
Nelson is an interesting case in terms of trade value because for what he is he’s been really good this season but what he is is a 34 year old backup point guard. Still, he’s been one of the most consistent players on the team and has shown he’s still got enough in the tank to be a positive contributor with regular minutes. His veteran leadership and playoff experience could be handy for a team looking to break into the playoffs like the Los Angeles Lakers, or he could be equally as beneficial on a team trying to make a deep run like the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is nonetheless 34 years old, which makes him a gamble to be a half a season rental do nobody is shelling out a ton. DA is younger than Nelson and could offer more in terms of long term production, but the fact that he’s coming off knee surgery and hasn't produced much so far this season hurts his value. He's still an excellent pick up for a contender if he stays healthy and his value could be much higher at the trade deadline but for now, like Nelson, he’s worth a late first rounder or a combination of second rounders at most.
Group F: The young and good but not great
9. Gary Harris
8. Jusuf Nurkic
7. Emmanuel Mudiay
Mudiay wins the prize for biggest faller in comparison to last year’s rankings but it's not without merit. His continued struggles with finishing at the rim, developing a consistent jump shot and ball security have to have executives around the NBA questioning whether he will ever be able to put together the game to go with his size and raw talent, making him far from close to untouchable like he was at this time last year. Nurkic and Harris have questions surrounding them to. Both have shown the capability to be NBA starters but neither’s game screams star and with Nurkic’s consistency issues and Harris’ lingering foot issue they both have their drawbacks. Still, all three players in this group have a solid game right now and high ceilings making them worth 1st round picks or starting quality players.
Group G: These players help my team win now
6. Kenneth Faried
5. Danilo Gallinari
4. Wilson Chandler
3. Will Barton
Thr group of vets. Outside of Barton this group is made up of the lone hold overs from the Masai Ujiri era and it wouldn’t be wrong to say it would be surprising if all of them are still on the roster come March. With the Nuggets struggling the likelihood of roster turnover increases with each loss and the players in this group offer the most in terms of instant production for a trade partner. They can help a fringe playoff team get into the tournament or a Finals contender increase their likelihood of raising the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Toronto Raptors could benefit greatly from adding Faried, as could the Los Angeles Clippers by adding Gallinari or Chandler. Anyone from this group is going to likely demand a combination of a pick and a rotation player at minimum, or would be a key piece in any sort of star trade. Barton is the youngest and most affordable, which also makes him the most valuable of the group.
Group H: My star player wants out
2. Nikola Jokic
1. Jamal Murray
Here’s the sad truth Nuggets fans, if you want to trade for Demarcus Cousins or John Wall or Paul George or anyone of that caliber then you're giving up one of these two guys. In fact you're probably giving up a guy from this group and one from each of the two preceding groups. This is not to say that either Jokic or Murray are worth giving up a star for, far from it, but in the event a team decides to trade a star they're going to want to get someone with star potential back and only Murray and Jokic fit that description. They're also going to be the two most difficult players to pry from the organization. I speculate that the Nuggets front office sees these two guys as the future of the franchise more than anyone else, and would surmise Tim Connelly would require a hefty price indeed which almost makes them untradeable. It's hard to imagine another team placing as much value on these two guys as the Nuggets do. However, in the event either Jokic or Murray were to be traded, they would undoubtedly be involved in a deal that returned more value to the Nuggets than any other player on their roster.