Nuggets

Anunoby Would Sky the Altitude’s Arsenal

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Elite wing defense.

That is exactly what the Denver Nuggets need heading into the most important offseason in recent memory. Denver’s franchise-altering superstar and two-time Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokić, is entering his eighth season in the league, and the championship window is vastly approaching.

With Denver expected to get their lethal trio of Jokić, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back at full health, the time to make a deal is now.

Looking at the open market and who is available via free agency or trade, there is one player that checks a plethora of boxes on the Nuggets roster.

OG Anunoby could be the all-around wing talent that brings this team to the next level– a guy that can do literally everything at a championship-caliber level.

Stats from 2021-22

  • 17.1 PTS (career high)
  • 5.5 REB
  • 2.6 AST
  • 1.5 STL
  • 44% FG on 14.5 FGA
  • 36.3% 3PT

It’s no secret the Toronto Raptors have a stacked forward rotation, and the thought of one or more of them being dealt this offseason seems likely. The question is who do the Raptors value more between Anunoby and Pascal Siakam? With Siakam and Fred VanVleet owed a combined $57 million heading into next season, this trio is not sustainable over time.

And don’t forget about 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who sent shockwaves through the league as a point forward who can handle, drive, defend and pass at an upper-class level.

Former Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri has seen the vast progress of these players over the years. Ever since Toronto’s hero Kawhi Leonard left for Los Angeles in 2019, the Raptors have been stagnant. Does their roster as presently constructed have a long playoff run in their future?

The North needs a versatile center and much-needed bench depth, while the Nuggets desperately need a consistent two-way wing. With the assets Denver has in the 21st and 30th picks in tonight’s draft plus a couple of moveable contracts in Will Barton and Monte Morris, the Nuggets could be a potential suitor ahead of Thursday’s draft frenzy.

Anunoby signed a four-year, fully guaranteed $72 million contract with the Raptors, and the defensive juggernaut is set to be payed a handsome salary two years later.

Anunoby’s contract breakdown:

  • 2021-22 | Age 24: $16,071,429
  • 2022-23 | Age 25: $17,357,143
  • 2023-24 | Age 26: $18,642,857
  • 2024-25 | Age 27: $19,928,571 (Player Option)
  • 2025-26 | Age 28: Unrestricted Free Agent

The most important commodity in the NBA by far is two-way players.

Aaron Gordon was a guy Nuggets fans thought could be that third go-to guy in an offense while also guarding the opposing team’s best player when he was traded from Orlando in 2021. After seeing his scoring output last season, questions still linger about what he can bring to the table offensively. Anunoby could be the guy to lighten the load for Gordon on off nights.

The guy is a straight hooper. This is not someone who needs to constantly handle the ball in order to help a team. He is a high-level off-ball player who can catch and shoot all the way out beyond the arc, and over the last few seasons has also added a fairly dependable low-post fade-away that at times is next to impossible to guard.

Defensively, his intensity and length is enough to make any basketball savant salivate. He can be the Swiss Army knife that nearly every team in the league desires.

It almost seems like a guarantee that Calvin Booth and the Nuggets are going to be one of the most active teams this offseason. As usual, it looks as if Denver will be one of those teams that fly under the radar as they have the last few seasons.

Now that the Warriors, Grizzlies, Suns, Clippers, Timberwolves and potentially even the Lakers have their eyes on the Western Conference crown, the Nuggets picking up a recognizable NBA contributor is a must.

 

About Sam Stern

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