June 25, 2022

April 24, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) runs past Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) in the first quarter of the first round for the 2022 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NBA Draft is less than 24 hours away, and rumors, trades and scuttlebuts are flying left and right.

The Nuggets weren’t the subject of many pre-draft rumors, but on Wednesday night Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer dropped some information regarding Denver. Development? Point guard, where the Nuggets were named suitor for Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic.

“Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic remains a hot name in the trading market. OKC holds draft rights and Nikola Jokic would be a key factor in Denver’s interest in securing the EuroLeague MVP. San Antonio, Milwaukee and Chicago were also mentioned as legitimate contenders.

A few comments :

First, Vasilije Micic is an elite international player. As mentioned by Fischer, he won the EuroLeague MVP in the 2020-21 season for Anadolu Efes, averaging 16.7 points, 4.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.0 minutes per match. In the 2021-22 season, he ranked third in total points scored and fifth in total assists. He’s 6’5″ and has both scoring and point guard traits that project him to fill a bit of a combo guard role at the NBA level. He’ll probably be a good defender in the NBA, but that’s not a skill on his part.

Second, Micic’s rights belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even if Micic wants to come and play with Denver, the Nuggets should do another one trade with Sam Presti and the Thunder. Giving Presti extra draft equity seems like a bad idea, as the Nuggets have already set their 2023 first-round pick and 2027 first-round pick on the way to OKC. Maybe this trade would be cheaper for Denver, but there is still a cost. Micic is not a traditional free agent.

Third, there is the contract. Micic would no doubt want more than a minimum contract to come to the NBA, but the Nuggets have limited flexibility this offseason. Denver has the mid-level taxpayer exception to work with, but it’s the only way they can sign any player for more than the minimum. If the Nuggets give that money (or some of it) to Micic, it limits what they can give to other free agents. While there’s some merit in pairing Micic with Nikola Jokić and uniting two Serbian MVPs, the Nuggets need to think about maximizing their roster this year so they can apply more pressure to every decision. Denver cannot throw its MLE taxpayer lightly.

Fourth, the Nuggets are coming off a two-year experience with a former EuroLeague star at Facundo Campazzo. There were some good times with Campazzo at the NBA level, but the signing ultimately proved disappointing as opponents began to get an NBA scouting report on the 5’9″ point guard. Micic may be entirely different from Campazzo, and his height at 6’5″ and his shot are key differences.

Still, is this a chance GM Calvin Booth is willing to take? Is Micic the right chance to take advantage of this offseason with Denver so badly in need of perimeter defense? Can Denver even get the rights to Micic from Oklahoma City for a reasonable price?

So many fair questions that make me a little skeptical about this match between Micic and the Nuggets. Denver already has Jamal Murray, Monte Morris and Bones Hyland to play point guard, but in the same article, Fischer names Morris as a point guard who “would be available” on the commercial market this offseason.

Denver may need another capable ballhandler at some point, so it’s not a wild claim that Micic could come in and be a useful player right away. Cost is cost, however, and the Nuggets would have to balance that with what they would actually get with Micic on the roster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.