Denver Nuggets mailbag: Nikola Jokić’s hot streak and the trade deadline

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

Nuggets Mailbag: Nikola Jokić’s hot streak, the trade deadline and other topics

The NBA All-Star break is almost here and the Nuggets are one of the hottest teams in the league heading into the midseason spectacle. Denver has won three in a row and is 7-3 in its last 10 games. 

With the trade deadline having passed and Nikola Jokić arguably in the best form of his career, the latest Nuggets mailbag takes a look at those topics and more.

Here are answers to your questions:

Despite rumors suggesting otherwise, Harris remained a Nugget following the trade deadline and with good reason. Harris might be struggling on the offensive end recently, but he is still an elite NBA defender. Harris and Torrey Craig give the Nuggets two players who neutralize perimeter threats and, in the modern NBA, that skillset is a premium.

The top teams in the league, such as the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Lakers to name a few, all possess multiple threats on the perimeter who can take over games. Having the ability to guard, for example, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard without having to double team is a unique strength the Nuggets have and it allows the team to be creative in its defensive schemes. Harris’ presence, in that respect, is invaluable. And it’s likely only a matter of time before his offense comes around, considering he is a career 45.3 percent shooter, including a respectable 35.3 percent from downtown.

What was the purpose of the trade that took place yesterday we traded a lot of young players for old ones -- Frankie Carrero

Frankie,

There were several reasons why the Nuggets ended up with the haul they did. The average age of those who arrived was 25.3 as opposed to the average age of the Nuggets departures being 22.3. Denver got slightly older, but not dramatically so.

With the Nuggets not being able to come terms with Malik Beasley last offseason on a new contract and Juancho Hernangómez likely looking for more playing time, the team wanted to get the best return it could while keeping the strong depth it has had over the past three seasons. In acquiring Jordan McRae, Keita Bates-Diop and Noah Vonleh, Denver has three players who can step in and make immediate contributions if needed.

The move also firms up the team’s likely playoff rotation, allowing its key players to build momentum towards the postseason. 

As cliché as this might sound, Nikola Jokić would likely prefer to dish 100 assists or grab 100 rebounds than take the shots needed to reach that lofty goal. That is one of the center’s strengths – always considering the best play over his individual numbers.

That said, Jokić has been more assertive as a scorer and leader in 2020. He is looking like the player he did during Denver’s impressive playoff run, where he averaged 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists on 50.6 percent shooting. His numbers since Jan. 2 are almost identical, putting up 24.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists on 53.7 percent shooting. 

 

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