The Denver Nuggets have a 14-8 win-loss record as of this writing. The first position in the Northwest Division and second place in the Western Conference are both achieved with that performance. They just had a four-game winning streak against the Atlanta Hawks halted, but they will get a chance to recover when they visit New Orleans on December 5.
The Nuggets are still among the best in the NBA and are expected to win the championship this year. The true captains of this group are Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Nikola Jokic. Additionally, their backcourt is rather congested, so it could make sense to unload one of their guards going forward. Here, we’ll examine the one Denver Nuggets player who has to be involved in a trade by the 2022–23 trade deadline.
Ish Smith of the Denver Nuggets
Ish Smith, the backup point guard for the Denver Nuggets, has already played for an NBA-record 13 teams. We predict that before the trade deadline in February 2023, he will increase that sum. For the Nuggets, selling Smith makes sense since doing so might allow them to reduce their luxury tax penalties by half.
Remember that with the growth of youngster Bones Hyland, Smith is a Nuggets player that may be replaced. This year, the sophomore guard has flourished, averaging 15.0 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.8 three-pointers per game. Smith, on the other hand, hasn’t produced impressive stats, but he can undoubtedly add experience to a weak backcourt elsewhere.
The journeyman would also be accustomed to being traded. Smith has moved around the NBA more than any other player in league history, to reiterate. He moves throughout the country playing basketball, never settling down in one place.
Be aware that he has continuously obtained work in several clubs for more than ten years. It conveys both his value and professionalism in spades. If the clubs that had taken the 6’0, 175-pound reserve guard didn’t find anything worthwhile in him, he would not have survived this long.
Remember that Smith joined the Houston Rockets as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and made his NBA debut. Then, between 2010 and 2016, he participated in a number of different teams. He played for the Grizzlies, Warriors, Magic, Bucks, Suns, Thunder, and 76ers after leaving the Rockets. At one point, he actually returned to Houston.
After that, he played for the Detroit Pistons from 2016 to 2019. In 2019–20, he signed a one–year contract with the Wizards. In 2020–21, he signed a two–year deal with the Hornets. Last season, he was traded back to the Wizards. He was later traded to the Nuggets in the summer of 2022 along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
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Indeed, Smith has been a reliable backup point guard, which has turned out to be harder to fill than anticipated. In his career, he has averaged 7.6 points, 3.9 assists, and 43.0 percent field goal shooting per game.
Smith has only played in eight games for the Nuggets so far this season. He has 3.1 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.3 rebounds on average per game. On November 29, he had his greatest game of the year against the Houston Rockets. Smith had 10 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals before the game’s end.
Smith has the ability to put up impressive numbers when given the chance to play for extended periods of time. Keep in mind that he scored 32 points for the Wizards in one game in 2020. He has also played in 25 games throughout his career with 10 or more assists.
Smith has recently clocked up more playing time and somewhat improved their stats. For a shorter guard later in his career, that is a startling tendency.
Smith explains that some of this is due to him taking better care of his body as he’s aged. Smith took his offseason preparation more seriously after arriving in Denver since he was now playing for a team that might be a contender for the championship. For the first time possibly ever, he believed he had a chance to actually win a title. Unfortunately, he will probably be put back up for trade.
The locker room presence Smith, now 34, provides is one intangible asset. He is a skilled veteran who is capable of mentoring younger players. He can also serve as a great professional role model. Smith may demonstrate to the newcomers how important it is for them to put aside their egos, take direction, and accept their roles. In terms of Smith, his character is more valuable to any squad than his performance statistics.
The San Antonio Spurs are one club that requires that. This is one location where Smith will probably land. Remember that even though the Nuggets have MVP-caliber big man Nikola Jokic, they still need a true rim protector. To help Jokic inside, Denver may make a play for Austrian big man Jakob Poetry. This involves sending Smith and two more players, possibly forwards Zeke Nnaji and Christian Braun, to the Spurs.
Once more, the Nuggets should want the 27-year-old to help them shore up their weak interior defense behind Jokic. Keep in mind that Denver struggles to stop opponents from scoring around the hoop. They may therefore use Poeltl as a rim protector. Due to Jokic’s ability to shoot threes, the two may wind up playing together frequently.
The Spurs would gain a lot from Smith’s seasoned leadership and locker-room presence. They would also receive 21-year-olds Braun and Nnaji. Those two might help with San Antonio’s reconstruction efforts in the future.