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Stat of the Week: Nuggets trade deadline player rankings

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The Nuggets have been no stranger to making deadline deals, but who are the best players they have ever acquired?

NBA: New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline at 3 PM Eastern time tomorrow, this edition of SOTW will focus on trades that the Denver Nuggets have made at the trade deadline. Who’s the best player the Nuggets have ever traded away? Who’s the best player the Nuggets have ever received in return?

I will be using Win Shares as a Nugget and VORP as a Nugget to calculate each scenario. The only criteria is that the trade had to take place in mid-late February, around the time of the trade deadline every year.

Best player Denver has ever traded away at the deadline:

Honorable Mention: Chauncey Billups - 25.2 Win Shares, 8.1 VORP

Chauncey Billups was one of the most iconic players in Colorado basketball history. Had he played a season or two more with the Nuggets, he would likely be higher on this list. As one of the best point guards to ever play basketball for the Nuggets, even for such a short time, he earns a mention. His inclusion in the Carmelo Anthony trade was probably the most difficult aspect of the deal for Nuggets fans at the time.

3. Andre Miller - 33.3 Win Shares, 9.6 VORP

Andre Miller will probably be known in Denver Nuggets history for two things: sweet alley-oops, and his bench blow up with head coach Brian Shaw. Focusing on the good though, Miller was one of the most impressive players I have ever seen, not for his athleticism or shooting ability, but for the skill to work around those deficiencies. The Nuggets actually traded away Miller twice, once for Allen Iverson, and once for Jan Vesely.

2. Nene - 51.1 Win Shares, 19.7 VORP

Surprisingly, Nene is the second most productive Nugget to be traded away at the deadline. In a shocking move, the Nuggets sent Nene in a package that landed Denver JaVale McGee, one of the most athletic centers to ever play basketball (spinning this positively). Nene though was a fundamental big man who did everything coaches asked him to do, from changing positions to filling a complementary role. Interestingly, Nene’s highest win shares in a season is 10.8 in 2009-10, more than Carmelo Anthony has ever had in a season.

1. Carmelo Anthony - 53.5 Win Shares, 14.4 VORP

In spite of that number, I’m still giving the nod to Anthony. His trade was iconic, one of the most intriguing in the history of professional sports, and it changed both the Nuggets and the New York Knicks forever. Anthony was a scorer, one of the best to ever do it. His inability to impact the game in other ways was a contributing cause to why the Nuggets never won a championship. Those are both true.

Best player Denver has ever acquired at the deadline:

Honorable Mention: Will Barton - 8.1 Win Shares, 2.4 VORP

Will Barton? Yep. When the Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo to the Portland Trail Blazer, they likely thought the prize of the deal would be a first round pick that was also sent. Barton has completely outplayed expectations, and his game is still getting better. He’s barely played in Denver for two seconds, but he’s a guy that I believe will rise up this list if the Nuggets sign him to a long term deal when the current one expires.

Honorable Mention: Eduardo Najera - 12.8 Win Shares, 3.9 VORP

Eduardo Najera was one of the most interesting bench pieces during the mid 2000s for the Nuggets. While Denver continued its rise in the Western Conference, Najera was a steady veteran off the bench who played the right way. He never tried to be more than he was as a role player, and because of it, he made some pretty big plays when the ball found him. Nuggets fans think fondly of Najera for his contributions during that time, and while he never played more than was necessary, he contributed to wins.

3. Wilson Chandler - 12.6 Win Shares, 3.6 VORP

Wilson Chandler would be higher on this list if he managed to stay healthy. With trade rumors going around currently about the 6’8 forward, it would be ironic that the article comes out on a day that he’s traded. Nevertheless, Chandler has been productive for Denver when he’s been on the court, with clutch shots, slam dunks, and just being solid whenever he plays.

2. Danny Schayes - 32.2 Win Shares, 4.5 VORP

Danny Schayes was traded to the Nuggets in February of 1983 in exchange for Rich Kelley. Kelley barely played after that, but Schayes spent the majority of the 1980s as a backup for the great Dan Issel and then starter Wayne Cooper. Schayes eventually supplanted both as the starter at center, contributing next to Alex English, Fat Lever, and Michael Adams on some powerful playoff teams. The Nuggets never went over the top with this group, but they played fun, high tempo basketball that the city of Denver craved.

1. Danilo Gallinari - 26.6 Win Shares, 7.7 VORP

What more is there to say about Danilo Gallinari that hasn’t already been said? Gallo was the centerpiece of the Carmelo Anthony trade back in 2011, and six years later, Gallo has still made a huge impact on the franchise. From a number of clutch shots, to some slick passes, and some high flying dunks, Gallo gave the Nuggets a ton in his time here. He’s still giving a ton as well. Like Chandler, there is the possibility that Gallo could be traded soon. If he is, I can comfortably say that Gallo was the best acquisition at the deadline the Nuggets have ever made.


Statistically, the Nuggets have sent out more talent and production than they have acquired at the deadline. Will the same hold true this time around? I for one would love to see Denver flip the script and acquire somebody that could excel in Denver for a number of years. Whether it’s a young player who could grow with the core or a star caliber player right now, let’s make this trade deadline a good one.