How the Nuggets Could Acquire a Star: Anthony Davis

Nov 17, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) comes down with a rebound during the first quarter of a game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With a few big-name players stuck on teams ranked lower than the Denver Nuggets, fans have to wonder if their chances of landing a big trade are at a season-high.

The Denver Nuggets got their 8th win of the season again Philadelphia on Monday, putting their record at 8-13. With that win, the Nuggets had officially obtained a better ranking the Washington Wizards (7-13), the Sacramento Kings (7-13), and the New Orleans Pelicans (7-15), despite the fact that each of these teams has a genuine star on their roster in John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis.

Now, the Nuggets are facing a series of series of winnable games, as 5 of their next 6 opponents have losing records. If things go well, Denver may find themselves rising further and further above the Kings, Pelicans, and Wizards. If not, then the team is still likely to produce a similar record.

If they can stay on top of these teams by at least a few wins, then the Denver Nuggets might have a legitimate chance at landing one of their stars.

So, we are going to take a look at what trades for John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis might look like.

Mar 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) misses over Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) at the end of the fourth quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Nuggets defeated the Pelicans 118-111 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nuggets get PF, Anthony Davis C, Omer Asik C, Alexis Ajinca

Pelicans get PF, Kenneth Faried SF, Wilson Chandler C, Jusuf Nurkic C, Nikola Jokic, SG Gary Harris

ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine results: Pelicans +4 Wins, Nuggets -9 Wins

If Nurkic and Harris were taken out of this trade, the Trade Machine actually shows +1 Wins for both teams. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, trading for Anthony Davis would require a lot of imbalance, as New Orleans would obviously be extremely hesitant to trade their star.

Nov 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Suns 120-114. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Pelicans would trade Anthony Davis:

The sweet part of this deal would be getting rid of Asik and Ajinca. To be frank, they are burdens to the roster, and they’re also expensive. Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic are both very promising, young, and cheap. Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler could bring immediate firepower to help replace Davis’, making New Orleans a better assembled team, instead of their current look as Davis’ one man band.

We all know it, Anthony Davis is MVP material, but counting on him solely has proven to be a failing recipe. New Orleans is far more likely to make drafts or trades that piece around Davis, but Denver, of all teams, might be able to make the most tempting offer for Davis, thanks to their young centers and expendable seasoned-talent. This deal would make the Pelicans into a guard-led but well-balanced top 8 contender focused on strong team-play, similar in style to the Hornets, Raptors, and 15′-16′ Warriors. Right now, they’re more like the Kings.

Holding the Pelicans back is their lack of talent at the center and SF positions. adding Chandler, Jokic, and Nurkic could help solve that issue, especially now that Nikola Jokic has started coming to life. Once Tyreke Evans is back, New Orleans could be looking at a starting 5 of Holiday, Evans, Chandler, Faried, and Jokic. They could also go small up front and start Holiday, Fraizer, Evans, Chandler, and Jokic. Finding a solid stretch-four would be the only thing keeping them serious top-5 contention, where now they are bogged down in 12th place, with multiple positions to fill.

If the Nuggets made this offer, New Orleans would have to choose between maintaining the status of possibly the worst team to ever have such amazing player, and being a more well-rounded team capable of a winning-record and playoff spot.

The Nuggets could also throw Gary Harris into the pot to sweeten the deal, which would give the Pelicans a solid SG to move forward with, and possibly start at the position if they’d like. The amount of cheap talent being offered in this deal gives it a chance. It’d be tough to make the Pelicans even think about giving up Davis, but Denver should at least be able to make that happen.

Apr 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates after a win against the San Antonio Spurs in a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Spurs 108-103 to earn the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Nuggets would do it:

Do we even need to write anything other than “Anthony Davis” here? No. We don’t.

But we will, mostly because many readers may wonder how the Nuggets could possible do any better with Davis than the Pelicans can. So here’s how:

Granted, Denver would not instantly become a better team, with all of the talent they would give up in this deal; but, imagine how beautiful an Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, and Anthony Davis trio could be in just a season or two? What about 5 seasons from now? The three players share an average age of just under 21 years old…

This trade would require Denver to call up 7′ draft pick Petr Corneli. Davis would most likely start at center for the Nuggets, with either Darrell Arthur or Juan Hernangomez at PF. They would have a clear draft target in looking for another big to start alongside Davis, who would then lead  group of young talented players into the seasons of the 2020’s.

In the 2019-2020 season, Davis will only be 26, Mudiay will be 23, and Murray will be just 22 years old. By that time, they would have had three seasons to play together. This deal would bring a more long-term payoff for the Nuggets. If  Danilo Gallinari sticks around too, then Denver could be a top-8 contender by the end of the season.  Either way, this trade would undoubtedly give Nuggets fans something to get excited about in the meantime.

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