With the (short-handed) Sixers headed to Denver for a match-up with the Nuggets tonight, I talked with T.J. McBride to learn more about one of the league’s most improved teams this season.
Question #1: The Sixers have a star center in Joel Embiid, but Nikola Jokic has been arguably just as good, if not better, this season. As those two will likely be competing with New Orleans star Anthony Davis for the First-Team All NBA spot at the center position, make the case for Jokic.
The case for Nikola Jokic is a unique one because there has never really been a player like him.
First and foremost, the argument for Jokic being first-team All-NBA starts out with the fact that he has led the Nuggets to their best start in franchise history and he has done so despite the Nuggets leading the league in total missed games due to injury. Additionally, the Nuggets second-youngest roster in the NBA, making their ascension even more impressive. The Nuggets have held onto the first seed in the Western Conference for more total days than any other team and if the Nuggets end up with top-four seed in the West after not making the playoffs last season, most of the credit should be given to Jokic.
Right now, Jokic is leading the Nuggets in points, rebounds, assists, and steals- and he is doing so with incredible efficiency. Jokic is also on pace to break nearly every facilitating record for a center. Simply stated, Jokic has shown that he is the greatest passing center ever this season and because of his altruistic ways, the Nuggets have reached heights they have never seen before.
Question #2: When the Nuggets were desperate to shed salary over the summer, they made a deal with the Sixers, giving up Wilson Chandler, who averaged over 30 minutes per game throughout his stint in Denver from 2012 to 2018. Has Chandler’s absence proven to be a legitimate concern for the Nuggets, or have they transitioned well without him?
The Nuggets have managed to transition well without Wilson Chanlder because they have Paul Millsap occupying that starting power forward role. Also, the Nuggets have a bevy of young wings on their roster that needed playing time in Will Barton, Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, and Malik Beasley.
Chandler was undoubtedly a helpful player for the Nuggets during his time in Denver, but it was time for both parties to move on. Chandler had grown frustrated in Denver and the Nuggets did right by him by trading him to Philadelphia; a team that not only would continue to compete for the playoffs, but a team that also needed his talents. The situation resulted in a win for both parties.
Question #3: It’s the end of January, and that means the Trade Deadline is coming soon. If you had to pick one archetype of a player that the Nuggets should pursue, what would it be?
This is a tough question because the Nuggets have only been able to start their opening night starting lineup twice all season. Without having a complete idea of what the Nuggets will look like when fully healthy, it becomes difficult to choose a particular archetype.
I’m going to cheat and say that the Nuggets goal at the trade deadline should be to get back into the first round of the 2019 NBA draft. Denver does not have a pick in the first round this year after giving up their pick to Brooklyn to get off of the last year of Kenneth Faried’s contract, so a consolidation move makes the most sense to me.
The Nuggets’ biggest acquisitions at the trade deadline will be finally getting their own players healthy and back in rhythm.
Big thanks to T.J. for taking the time to answer our questions!