The Perfect Trade Between The Denver Nuggets And The New York Knicks

The Trade

Why Denver Does It

The Nuggets are currently 2nd in the West (24-11), despite being 19th in the NBA in PPG, 22nd in 3P%, 18th in REB, 21st in TS%, 19th in Bench PPG. The Nuggets are -7 points per 100 possessions when Jerami Grant (backup PF- averages 23.1 minutes/game) is on the court and +13.9 when he’s off (leads the team). Denver could really use Bobby Portis and might be willing to overpay for him if it could push them over the top. Portis is averaging 10.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in just 21.5 minutes of action. He has become a really nice stretch 4, shooting 37.7% from 3 and 42.9% from the corner 3. Portis has had issues with rim protection, but would fit nicely next to Mason Plumlee. Plumlee averages 0.7 blocks and 5.6 rebounds in just 17.4 minutes per game. Portis would fit next to him offensively (spacing the floor) and defensively (rebounding with Plumlee’s help inside via shot blocking). The Nuggets would also be willing to part with Malik Beasley due to him only playing 16.1 minutes per game and although Denver would lose some offense, Portis and the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. would makeup for it.

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Why New York Does It

Portis has become one of, if not the, Knicks top bench scorers. However, he has not made a major impact on the scoreboard as the Knicks are -3.1 points per game with him on the court and -4.1 points with him off the court. The Knicks severely lack rim protection when Mitchell Robinson is off the floor, most of which Portis is manning the paint. Of the Knicks top twenty lineups this season, the worst six shot blocking lineups by a wide margin (-5.9, -5.5, -5.4, -5.3, -3.6, -3.2 per game) all come with Mitchell Robinson off the floor (no surprise). Portis is playing Center in three of these lineups and Gibson is the Center in the other three. Julius Randle is on the floor for five of the six lineups. It is clear the Knicks need another shot-blocker on their roster. Jerami Grant is averaging 0.6 blocks per game (double Portis’ 0.3) in just 23.1 minutes of action and has averaged at least a block a game in every other season of his career. Grant and Gibson could rotate playing alongside Randle and Morris dependent on game situations, while Robinson plays alongside Knox (excluding the finish of games). Knox perfectly spaces the floor at Power Forward for Robinson and opens up lots of opportunity for Robinson in the paint. Malik Beasley (23 years old), would be a nice addition to the Knicks roster. Beasley is shooting 39.8% from three on 3.4 attempts per game this season. Last year, Beasley shot a very impressive 40.2% from three on 5 attempts per game. He is very quick, moves off the ball very well, and is incredibly athletic. The addition of Beasley would really improve the Knicks shooting and energy off the bench. He would also make Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier expendable, who the Knicks have been rumored to be looking to move. A recent report claimed that the Knicks would likely be able to acquire a 2nd round pick for either Ellington or Trier.

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The Kevin Knox Effect

Bobby Portis has displayed his scoring prowess for a Knicks team that has significant struggles scoring and shooting (29th in the NBA in PPG, 23rd in 3P%, last in TS%). However, Portis is taking 8.9 field goal attempts per game in his 21.5 minutes of play per game. This is significantly taking scoring opportunities away from the Knicks young, bench players. Kevin Knox is likely negatively affected the most from this. Knox is averaging 19.8 minutes, 6.8 field goal attempts, and 1.8 free throws per game this season. These are all major steps down from his rookie season (28.8 minutes, 12.2 field goal attempts, and 3 free throw attempts). Knox is having a down season and it likely has to do with his drop in usage rate (currently 17.3% vs. 21.9% last season) and playing the majority of his minutes at Small Forward instead of Power Forward. This season, Knox’s top 10, five man rotations, have him playing SF in nine of them and SG in one of them. The only lineup in which he could possibly be considered a PF is when he plays alongside Julius Randle and Marcus Morris Sr. in the front court (5th most minutes). Even if he was the Power Forward in this scenario, Knox still would have little opportunity to shoot. Knox was in 12 of the Knicks top 20, five man rotations last season. The Knicks had a positive, point differential, in seven of their top, twenty lineups. Knox was only in one of the positive combinations in which he played Power Forward alongside Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, and Frank Ntilikina (all currently bench players for the Knicks). It would likely behoove the Knicks to try a bench consisting of Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson, along with two shooters (any combination of Dotson, Trier, Bullock, and Ellington).

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