Team #2: Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have been an average team over their first six games. Per 100 possessions they are scoring 116 points and allowing 116 points, which puts them on track to finish with a .500 win percentage.
That simply won’t cut it for a team that was in the Western Conference Finals last season. The team simply needs to be better, but their core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. has been excellent to begin the season.
Either the franchise plunges draft capital into rounding out their roster or they use those assets to go grab a superstar by the name of James Harden. The trump card that the Nuggets hold over every other team is that Porter Jr. looks to be the best young prospect in the entire league.
Porter is finally getting starter-level minutes and he is delivering by averaging 19.5 points per game on 56.6-percent shooting from the field and 42.3-percent shooting from 3-point range. It has been reported that he is untouchable, but that raises another option for the Nuggets to explore if they want to go and get James Harden.
Jamal Murray saw his stock skyrocket during the 2020 playoffs when he averaged 26.5 points per game and helped the Nuggets overcome two 3-1 series deficits. Murray has flashed superstar potential but for the most part, he looks to be an All-Star caliber player at this stage of his career.
He is a proficient and varied scorer but he’s not a great defender and his playmaking is not elite. In the end, he is a scorer but not so elite at it that it moves him into the upper echelon of players. James Harden, on the other hand, is one of the five best players in the world, and swapping him out for Murray would make the Nuggets a legitimate title threat.
The appeal of acquiring Murray for the Rockets is that he has yet to turn 24 and is under contract for four more seasons after this one. He’ll probably never be as good as Harden but he is young enough that there is ample time for his game to grow.
The Nuggets have an MVP candidate in Nikola Jokic and two All-Star caliber players but they remain an average team to start the season. A big swing for James Harden would get them to where they’re looking to go if they’re willing to pay the price.
Next: Team No. 1