Today, the Portland Trail Blazers decided to part ways with Mason Plumlee and their 2018 second round pick. They were expected to let Plumlee walk this off-season, but they found a trade partner in the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets will send their 2017 first round pick and Jusuf Nurkic. This was reported first by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
Now, the Trail Blazers are setting up their future nicely, as they now have three first round picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft. They now have the Nuggets (via Memphis), Cavaliers, and their own first round picks, which they can land some more talented players due to the draft being deep across the whole board, or they can own the draft by working some trades to move up and get a top prospect.
First off, Jusuf Nurkic is an interesting player that is always around the glass, plus he has a decent shot. If he gets the chance to start, he can become one of the league’s better centers. The third-year big man, began the year as a starter but was moved to the bench after the experiment of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic failed. The 22 year old has played in 45 games (29 starts) that led to an average of 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. His free throw percentage took a major dip this year (49%), as he had a solid 61% (for a center) last year. Denver exercised his team option for 2017/18 in October, which will pay him just under $3 mil.
Nurkic will most likely slide right into the starting center role and play next to his front court teammates Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. Interestingly, the depth of the front court in Portland is solid with quality insurance of Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, and Evan Turner.
Furthermore, Plumlee was turning into a quiet star in Portland, as he is Mr.Reliable. He has started all 136 games played in Portland as a starter. So far in 54 games as the team’s starter, he was averaging 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night.
I think the Nuggets get more flexibility in their lineup with Plumlee joining the group. He is a do it all center that can play the four spot if needed, plus he is quicker than Nurkic and has shot better at the free throw line (56%).
Finally, Plumlee will be the backup to budding star Nikola Jokic. Also, he will join a dominant front court with Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Juan Hernangomez, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler, but expect Chandler to be moved, as he is unhappy with his current role in Denver, according to USA Today.