Denver Nuggets' most glaring needs after first wave of NBA free agency

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages

NBA free agency has largely slowed down as most of the big fish are off the board and most of the available cap space has dried up. There are still good players out there, but they’ll have to settle for minimums and exceptions as teams fill out their rosters.

At this point, the attention has mostly shifted to the Summer League, the upcoming Paris Olympics, and possible trade candidates like Brandon Ingram, Lauri Markkanen, and others. There are certainly still moves to be made, but it seems like rosters are mostly settled.

The Nuggets still have an open roster space and they’ll likely add one more player; either a free agent on a minimum contract or a trade target with a small contract using their $5.25 million traded player exception from dumping Reggie Jackson earlier this month.

In the aggregate, this offseason the Nuggets have lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson, and Justin Holiday from their rotation and added Dario Saric and DaRon Holmes (they also re-signed DeAndre Jordan and Vlatko Cancar). Put more simply, they lost three guards and brought in two big men.

The Nuggets' biggest needs are ballhandling and shooting

Going into the offseason, the clear biggest need in Denver was more shooting. That was only compounded by losing three of their better shooters from last season - a team that already attempted the fewest threes in the league. Holmes showed some nice range in college and Saric should be a true floor-spacing big for the Nuggets.

So the shooting has at least been addressed somewhat, but now giant holes have been created in the backcourt. Beyond Jamal Murray, the Nuggets don’t have a point guard with NBA experience on the roster. Reggie Jackson was the backup and KCP was a secondary ballhandler.

Both of those players are now gone and the Nuggets haven’t added a single perimeter player. They are either putting an absurd amount of faith in Jalen Pickett, or they badly need to use their final roster spot on a backup point guard (or possibly both).

Russell Westbrook still an option for Denver

Russell Westbrook’s name has been floated around as a trade candidate and he would fill the void and run the second unit. But he still either needs to be bought out by the Clippers or traded to the Nuggets and there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Whether it’s Westbrook or a free agent, the Nuggets need to add a guard desperately. With only minimums at their disposal, it’s unlikely the team can add the top available free-agent point guards like Tyus Jones or Markelle Fultz. But they simply cannot enter next season with their current guard depth and try to convince fans they are serious about contending.