Is Chris Paul a Good Fit With the Nuggets?
With the news that point guard Chris Paul is opting of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers and testing the free-agent market, a surprising name among the teams he is interested in visiting is the Denver Nuggets. With the move of free-agents to join other high profile markets or hook up with other superstars on other perennial powers to create the dreaded “super team”, Denver didn’t fit seem to fit either of those categories.
While it’s hard to infer what Paul is looking for when it comes to his NBA career, it does show an upward trajectory for the profile of the Nuggets organization. In stockpiling picks and younger players while meshing them with more established veterans, the Nuggets are very much an intriguing team as far a free-agent destination.
What begs the question is, are the Nuggets a good fit for Paul and vice versa? Here are compelling arguments for both sides of the coin.
Chris Paul is a top-5-point guard in the league and instantly turns the Nuggets from a team that just barely missed the playoffs to one that could potentially be anywhere from a four to six seed next season. While young center Nikola Jokic currently carries the title of best Nuggets player, he doesn’t have someone in tandem with him who can take this team to the next level. That isn’t a knock on solid wing Gary Harris or forward Kenneth Faried, but star power is everything in today’s NBA.
Speaking of Jokic, it’s absolutely scary to think of how good the Nuggets would be in the half-court with an offense that has two bona-fide passers in Jokic and Paul. Paul would also bring a competitiveness and leadership to the Nuggets that has been lacking since Chauncey Billups was in a Denver uniform. The Nuggets are a promising team and bringing a veteran the caliber of Paul could be a huge addition for Denver.
While it may seem like a win-win, Paul hasn’t been the difference maker necessary to get the Clippers anywhere close to an NBA Finals. Despite having an All-Star in Blake Griffin and an established big man in DeAndre Jordan, L.A. hasn’t gotten anywhere to closing the gap between themselves and the upper-echelon of the Western Conference. Take Paul off the Clips and put him on the Nuggets and he’s running into roughly the same situation, playing on a solid team, but one that doesn’t have a good chance of making it deep in the postseason.
Paul’s age and recent injury history also has to be considered. While Paul is still in the tier of NBA superstar, he may not have much longer until those skills have eroded either. In combination, the Nuggets have already invested a couple of picks in the future of their backcourt with Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray. Bringing in a player like Paul would instantly be a setback in their development, hindering the growth of Mudiay in particular.
Denver has the cap space and potential to be a very good team in the near future. The idea that even with Paul, Denver isn’t a super team shouldn’t serve as a road block to trying to put him in a Denver uniform. A backcourt of Paul and Harris with Jokic upfront would immediately have the hoop-heads in Denver doing cartwheels.
While Nuggets General Manager Tim Connelly has done a good job in finding players like Jokic and Harris and bringing on a coaching staff to develop them, getting Paul in Powder Blue and Gold would be a coup for a franchise that has been looking for superstar since Carmelo Anthony. Yes, the Nuggets still may be a couple of pieces away, even with Paul in the fold, but they suddenly become more credible and dangerous with him as a Nugget, than they are without him.