According to a recently published list of trade ideas, the Denver Nuggets could improve their chances of making the 2021 NBA Finals by acquiring Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for a package centered on promising young forward Michael Porter Jr.
As explained on Monday by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, it might be a bit “excessive” for the Nuggets to shake up their rotation after a successful 2019-20 season where they made it to the Western Conference Finals, only to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he opined that the team is currently one player shy of becoming a legitimate threat to win a championship.
Although Porter may develop into that missing piece, Buckley suggested that Denver could get immediate results by sending him to Oklahoma City — along with backup guard Monte Morris and the No. 22 overall draft pick in the 2020 NBA Draft — and getting Gilgeous-Alexander in return. The 22-year-old was described as the “ideal” backcourt partner for Jamal Murray, who stepped up his performance during this year’s playoffs by averaging a team-leading 26.5 points in postseason play, per Basketball-Reference.
“Gilgeous-Alexander blends primary-option scoring with versatile, disruptive defense, high-level distributing and off-the-dribble attacking,” the Bleacher Report writer noted. “He can play within a system and complement the likes of Murray and Nikola Jokic or divert from it to relieve some of the pressure on the Nuggets’ stars.”
In his second year in the NBA, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game and shot 47.1 percent from the field as the Thunder’s starting shooting guard, as shown on his Basketball-Reference page. The former Kentucky Wildcats star played his rookie year for the Los Angeles Clippers before getting traded to Oklahoma City in the summer of 2019.
According to Buckley, the trade might be a “gamble” for the Thunder if they decide to take the “calculated risk” Porter will turn out to be the better player in the long run. Although there are still some question marks regarding the possibility the former first-round draft pick will eventually reach his potential, his upside was brought up as one reason why the theoretical transaction is a calculated risk for a team like the Thunder. Morris, meanwhile, could retain his role as a “rock-solid” floor general off the bench if the trade pushes forward, as further speculated.
As a rookie this season, Porter started eight times in 55 regular-season games and averaged 9.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 16.4 minutes per game. The former first-round selection out of Missouri also shot 50.9 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three-point range.