There are moves afoot in the NBA, even in August.
For the Nuggets
They had a logjam, and this helps clarify certain position situations while also allowing for another roster spot. Denver is likely starting Kenneth Faried and Nikola Jokic, and wants to see more of the Jokic-Jusuf Nurkic pairing, which was effective in spurts late last season and features its two best young talents in the frontcourt. The Nuggets also needed to make some time for Wilson Chandler (returning from injury) and Danilo Gallinari to play at smallball four, working around Darrell Arthur‘s minutes at power forward as well. (Arthur is the team’s best defender.)
Lauvergne was coach Michael Malone’s fallback option due to his hustle and effort. He has good touch and a little bit of a jumper. He finishes well on rolls to the rim. He needs to improve by miles and miles in defensive awareness and improve his screens, but he makes up for a lot of his deficiencies with effort. However, Denver has Darrell Arthur back from injury and has to find time for all those other lineups. It makes a lot of sense for the Nuggets.
They receive the Thunder and Grizzlies‘ second-round picks, which means that Denver now has conditional rights to Memphis’ first and second round picks. So they’re really rooting against the Grizzlies this season.
For the Thunder
This is … interesting.
The Thunder now have Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary, Domantas Sabonis and now Lauvergne on the squad. That’s six big men for two spots, and none of them can play small forward. That is a lot of guys.
Alright, there’s two ways of looking at this: the non-dramatic way and the dramatic way.
The non-dramatic way says Collison is basically player-coach at this point and McGary was suspended for a marijuana violation for the first five games of the season. He’s barely been holding onto a roster spot anyway. So that instead makes it effectively a four-man rotation with Adams, Kanter, Sabonis and Lauvergne. Given that they could use a power forward who is not a rookie to start next to Adams, Lauvergne isn’t a bad choice. He’s a hustle junkie and has some skills, he’ll do well in the pick and rolls with Russell Westbrook and Cameron Payne.
The dramatic way asks … are the Thunder preparing a bigger move? They’re acquiring assets and now have a really young roster. The picks are inconsequential given the fact that they have Josh Huestis and Sabonis who they added; they don’t need more rookies next year, particularly not second-rounders. But that’s a lot of guys in the frontcourt. Sam Presti has made big preseason splashes before. Is he working toward another one in the wake of Russell Westbrook’s extension?
It’s enough to keep you interested, but in the meantime, the Thunder pick up a useful player and the Nuggets create more clarity in their rotation. Not a bad move for either side.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Nuggets trade Joffrey Lauvergne to Thunder for two second-round picks