Daily Nugget: Nuggets and Trail Blazers share connections beyond Northwest Division
The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers are not only division rivals that faced off 11 times last season. Each time the two teams take the court against each another, the connections between them play a role in the outcome.
As a result of two separate trades between Denver and Portland over the past four years, three of Denver’s rotation players directly or indirectly came from the Trail Blazers.
It started in February of 2015, when Denver traded Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland in exchange for Will Barton III, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson and a 2016 first-round pick. The Nuggets used that draft pick on Malik Beasley, while Afflalo only played in 25 games for the Trail Blazers.
Barton reflected on the timing of the trade back in 2018 when he was a guest on Richard Jefferson’s Road Trippin’ podcast, saying “When I actually got traded, I was excited because I knew I was going to a young team, they weren’t winning yet, and I was still young and I knew I would get an opportunity to play. I didn’t know it would go this well, but I knew ... [if] I worked hard I would be prepared and I would do okay. And now it’s going better than planned, and now we’re winning.”
The two division rivals connected on a second trade two years later, in which Denver exchanged Jusuf Nurkić and a 2017 first-round pick for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick.
With Barton III being a leading force in Denver’s 14-8 start with Plumlee and Beasley providing support from the second unit, the Nuggets and Trail Blazers look to be connected moving forward as both teams compete in the Western Conference.