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Nerlens Noel to Dallas - what does that mean for Denver?

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Spoiler: that 8th spot isn’t getting any easier to obtain

NBA: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Per Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical, Nerlens Noel is headed to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for some mismatched socks named Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut, as well as a protected first rounder (perhaps as much as top-18-protected, meaning it is very unlikely to actually convey in 2017). The true cost?

If that seems a little low for Noel, their fanbase feels the same - and 76ers fans get the added bonus that they may then keep Jahlil Okafor even though he’s been demonstrably horrible playing anywhere near Joel Embiid. But enough about Philly - how does this affect the Denver Nuggets?

With Dallas scrapping for that last playoff spot just like New Orleans and Denver, all three have strengthened their big man rotation with trades and no one is backing off. Noel’s addition likely means better perimeter defense from the Dallas bigs, since Dirk Nowitzki moves about as quickly as a glacier on a leisurely slide downhill. Noel should help their pick and roll game as well as provide some cutting and transition lob offense. It gives them another shot-blocker and in theory a better fit than Sal Mejri in the short and long term. In Mavericks terms it gives them a skinny Erick Dampier to groom, and if Noel’s perimeter defense holds up that could help settle their center situation with an athletic 5 to play next to Harrison Barnes at either the 3 or the 4.

Dallas is a better team today than they were yesterday, and they’d already been playing well since that early-season nightmare without Dirk. Denver will have to fend off multiple suitors for that 8th seed and the right to get pounded by the Golden State Warriors.

Denver still has a couple more hours to decide exactly what players on the team will be fighting that fight. Stay tuned.