The Denver Nuggets have the best center in the NBA on their team. Nikola Jokic is having the best season of his career, which is saying something for a two-time defending MVP. He’s averaging a triple-double and the Nuggets are the top seed in the Western Conference by a cool four games.
The problem is that when Jokic sits the Nuggets crater. They have throughout Jokic’s prime, be it DeAndre Jordan, JaMychal Green or JaVale McGee manning the middle when he sits. They looked to address that need at the NBA Trade Deadline, adding Los Angeles Lakers center Thomas Bryant.
Bryant is a good offensive player, but his defensive issues are stark and he was a surprising choice for the Nuggets to spend multiple second-round picks bringing aboard. There were other centers available that were either less expensive, better fits, or both. Let’s take a look at three such options the Nuggets could have traded for instead.
Center No. 1: Mason Plumlee, LA Clippers
Years ago, the Denver Nuggets chose to back up Nikola Jokic with a player with a similar profile in Mason Plumlee. The former Duke big man is a good passer for a center, which used to be a thing before likely-alien Nikola Jokic broke basketball. He honed his ability to pass on the short roll playing with Damian Lillard in Portland, and he loves to handle at the elbow as well.
Bringing Plumlee back would give the Nuggets continuity of scheme when Jokic sits, or more importantly when Jokic sits out a game entirely. Plumlee is also having the most efficient scoring season of his career, is crashing the glass and looks like a player who could genuinely help a team like the Nuggets in the postseason.
Matching his salary would have been more difficult than Bryant’s minimum, but Plumlee was added by the Clippers for just a single second-round pick and is a better player than Bryant.