What was your first reaction to the Woj Bomb this morning that Jerami Grant was a Denver Nugget?
Ryan Blackburn: First of all, I was surprised, even though I shouldn’t be surprised at all. The entire Western Conference is loading up on talent, and the Nuggets were one of the only teams that hadn’t made a significant move. With the team picking up Paul Millsap’s $30 million team option, there were only two significant ways for the Nuggets to acquire talent: the mid-level exception or using one of their traded player exceptions. The Nuggets opted for the latter, using Wilson Chandler’s TPE from the previous offseason to absorb Grant’s salary, sending a 2020 first round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder as compensation. I like the move, and the Nuggets don’t weaken themselves at another position this way. Great use of resources by Tim Connelly and the Nuggets front office.
Evan Fiala: Pleasantly surprised. I figured the Nuggets were actually going to sit and not make any transactional moves, so to see this come up was great. And because Grant is a pretty underrated player who will help shore up Denver’s defense while helping on offense (39% from three on 3.7 attempts last year? Come on!) I’m very happy with the move as well.
Jeremy Poley: Not much of a reaction from me, the closest being relief. I’ve spent my offseason shooting down 99% of the trade & free agent ideas out there for the Nuggets. Good fit & opportunity cost have been the drums I’ve been beating, and Jerami Grant manages to slide past the majority of my arguments against roster changes right now. In a summer where I feel the Nuggets have done a good job dodging a lot of booby traps, to wake up to a Nuggets trade and see that it was a 2020 first (realistically somewhere between 18-24?) for Grant was something close to relief. That said, I’m sad that we just punted Vanderbilt’s minutes to the moon.
Adam Mares: Why is my phone blowing up? Where is my wallet? Where am I, actually? And what happened to all of my 20 dollar bills? I remember being at the Golden Gate as the sun was rising... Did I smoke a cigarette last night? I need to get my life together.
Who will start at power forward next season between Grant and Paul Millsap?
Blackburn: I’ve gone back and forth with this, but ultimately I expect Millsap to start on opening night. It’s close enough that the Nuggets may opt for lineup continuity and integrate Grant into bench lineups to start. It’s possible that Grant could close games though, and at 25 years old, I’d wager that Grant is in Denver’s long term plans as the starting power forward. Denver may get a jump start on that process by starting Grant over Millsap if the Nuggets believe him to be the better fit down the road.
Fiala: It will still be Millsap. Unless Millsap is traded, Grant isn’t being brought on to replace him this season, but rather as (1) a long-term option who will certainly still get big minutes off the bench and (2) to play perimeter defense in crunch time, in the playoffs. This was a weakness that Portland exposed and ultimately cost Denver the series. With Grant’s versatility, the Nuggets hopefully have fixed that hole.
Poley: Say what? Paul Millsap. Another drum I’m beating - the Nuggets need to change their PF over time, not overnight. Even Millsap took time to adjust to Jokic (and Jokic to Millsap) and he was an 11-year veteran who was one of the most dominant defensive forces of his time. Our PF of the future will be the second-most important player to any of Jokic’s success in Denver. It’s the only position where we can’t whiff. We need to develop the solution, not “buy” it and kick Millsap out the door.
Mares: You don’t mess with a good thing and the Millsap-Jokic combo is a very, very good thing. Last season the Nuggets outscored opponents by 8.6 points per 100 possessions when both guys were on the court together. But Grant should get a lot of reps next to Jokic, especially if the Nuggets see him as a long-term piece. He can space the floor on offense, finish at the rim on cuts and putbacks, and help protect the rim on defense. Regardless of who starts, both guys will get their minutes next to Jokic.
Does this trade make the Nuggets contenders in the Western Conference?
Blackburn: I don’t think they are quite there as the favorites, but the Nuggets are certainly contenders. It probably comes down to how well Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. develop over the next nine months. Those guys have an opportunity to change the dynamic for the Nuggets. Grant is a great complementary piece, but he won’t affect the game the way a star can. If Murray takes a star turn quickly or if Porter is as advertised quicker than expected, the Nuggets have the roster to take down every threat in the West as constructed. If Murray and Porter take more time, they are probably still one piece away.
Fiala: Let’s be clear: the Nuggets were already contenders in the Western Conference. They weren’t the favorites, but with how open the West is now they were already in the conversation. With Grant, the conversation starts to move from “are they contenders?” to “are they the team to beat?” Everyone is so fixated on the Los Angeleses and Utah, but Denver is a really, really good team that just got better. I’m all in.
Poley: No — we were contenders before Grant showed up. I’m lower on this trade than some of the other Stiffs, but I will fully get behind Grant having a measurable impact for us in the playoffs. Just go back to our series’ against San Antonio & Portland and tell me that Grant doesn’t change things at the 3 & 4 for us.
Mares: Yes. The Nuggets might’ve been contenders before the trade but they are a lot more equiped to handle the post-season now that Grant is in the fold. Equally as important, they may have found a guy who is here for the long haul. He’s 25 years old. Denver found a way to improve now without sacrificing the future.