Remember when Kyle Korver got traded and it was supposed to create a domino effect for more trades? Well we finally got ourselves another trade. Let’s take a look at it first and we’ll break it down bit by bit.
Nuggets receives: Mason Plumlee and 2018 second-round pick
Trail Blazers receives: Jusuf Nurkic and 2017 first-round pick (Grizzlies’ pick)
In terms of a pure NBA business stand point, Blazers got themselves a helluva deal. They’re clearly looking in the long run and isn’t that focused on fighting the eighth spot. Trades between teams who are competing for the final spot in the playoffs don’t happen too often, if ever. They got themselves a first-round pick for the upcoming draft, which is projected to be a loaded and deep draft class. That pick would probably end up being around the 20th pick in this year’s draft. This means the Blazers are going to have three first-round picks for the upcoming draft to add to their elite backcourt duo, which are still relatively young. Mason Plumlee is due to be a RFA this coming summer and the Blazers clearly didn’t want to pay him after handing out deals to players such as Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner. They’re already over the salary cap and this moves helps them cut down on their luxury tax for the coming season. The Blazers also get a relatively younger center who still has a cheap contract for couple of years. Even though Nurkic isn’t an upgrade on defense, he’s a solid short-term plug until the Blazers solve this problem through the draft or trades.
In terms of fantasy, Nurkic should be given a speculative add in standard leagues. He has a pretty polished offensive game and can fill the stat sheet as we saw in pre-season, which helped him gain some hype for this year’s fantasy draft. His usage rate probably won’t be high as he’s going to play alongside Dame and C.J. but he’ll have a lot of chances of being the roll man off the pick. According to Synergy, his frequency of a post-up play is 35.4%, which is the highest type of play compared to the others. He’s probably not going to get any post-up touches as the Blazers are nearly dead last in terms of post-up play frequency. He’s still good enough to finish around the basket if the ball gets delivered to him. He’ll clean up the glass for the Blazers and might average close to nine boards per game. He’ll hurt you in free throws and turnovers so be wary of that if you can’t afford to take a hit in those categories. The Blazers also might go small more often and even give Ed Davis a little bit more run. Davis works well and has a better net rating with Dame and C.J. than Plumlee. Just don’t expect 30 minutes per game for Nurk but he’ll be a good speculative add with the potential to return top-80 value.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets get another center in return, which doesn’t help fix the log jam that they have in the front court. Also, they gave up a first-round pick in this upcoming draft, which signifies that they’re done adding young assets and is ready to build around the young core of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Giving up a first-round for Plumlee also means that they’re probably going to match any offer sheet and re-sign Plumlee for their next season. Plumlee is a good passing big and is averaging 4.0 assists per game this season. He fits in perfectly in the Nuggets’ system of playing through the center. Unfortunately, they already have the best passing big in the NBA. But this move indicates that the Nuggets’ front office wants to play the entire game through one system and that’s moving and making cuts around the center. They definitely upgraded their backup center position and I’m hoping it’ll stay that way and we won’t see Jokic at the four (we all know it’s going to happen). They also got rid of Nurkic, which apparently is a bad personality in the locker room with a bad attitude.
In terms of fantasy, Plumlee is going to take a big hit. He’s already averaging 28.1 minutes per game this season and I think that number is going to drop to the low 20’s. He’s going to be the backup of Jokic and since Jokic is still working on staying away of foul trouble, Plumlee might see some opportunity there. Knowing Mike Malone, he’s also probably going to try and play Plumlee and Jokic together, which moves Jokic to the power forward spot. This move may not be soon but I think it’s pretty inevitable. We all know what happens to Jokic when he plays the four, as we saw it earlier this season. Even though Plumlee is a good passing big, unlike Nurkic, he still clogs a lot of space in the paint if he plays alongside Jokic, which removes space for their guards and wings to make cuts to the paint. Plumlee is still worth holding on to for the meantime to see what he can do in this Nuggets’ team. Meanwhile, Kenneth Faried will also take a hit. His minutes at center will probably be limited and imagine a front-court line up with Faried and Plumlee. It’s going to be a clog inside the paint if these two are on the floor together.
Analysing trades and predicting how it’ll affect the fantasy world is always fun. Let’s hope for more trades!