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Nuggets Free Agency Preview 2019: Shooting Guards

Jun 19, 2019, 9:41 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Everybody loves Gary Harris. When it comes to the Nuggets, their starting shooting guard is among the most popular players on the team. Fans are behind him. Coaches love him. And the media doesn’t have a bad thing to say about him.

To a large extent, that makes sense. Harris is a quiet, low-key guy, so he doesn’t ruffle a lot of feathers. Plus, he’s a hard-working player who competes on both ends of the floor, epitomizing Denver’s unselfish brand of basketball with his willingness to defer to teammates and do the dirty work.

As a result, Harris is pretty well penciled into the Nuggets starting lineup. When looking at ways to improve the team, few think Denver would be better off by making a change at shooting guard.

But is that really the case?

This past season, Harris averaged just 12.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers. Granted, the guard didn’t battle through injuries all year, which limited him to just 57 games, but that doesn’t totally excuse the lack of production; in reality, Harris put up numbers in 2018-19 that nearly mirrored his career averages.

Denver needs more from a player slated to earn nearly $18 million this season. The Nuggets need Harris to be a star if they’re going to become an elite team. As much as people hate to hear it, that’s just not the case at the moment.

If an upgrade is something Tim Connelly and Company were seeking, there are plenty of shooting guards in this year’s free-agent market.

***

Top Five Available

1. Klay Thompson | Golden State Warriors – The torn ACL he suffered during Game 6 of the NBA Finals puts a cloud over his immediate future, but the five-time All-Star is an elite player. He’s among the best outside shooters in the game, as well as an underrated defender.

2. Jimmy Butler | Philadelphia 76ers – Butler’s prickly personality, as well as his desire to play in particular markets, may scare some teams away. That said, he’s a big-time scorer, lock-down defender and world-class competitor. When happy, Butler is an elite player.

3. Danny Green | Toronto Raptors – There’s a reason why Green keeps popping up on championship teams; he brings elements to the floor that are keys to winning. He can knock down open jumpers with the best of them and is an elite defensive player.

4. J.J. Redick | Philadelphia 76ers – If a team is looking for someone to spot up and knock down three-pointers, they’d be hard pressed to find a better option than Redick. In his mid-30s, however, he’s not going to bring much else to the court.

5. Terrence Ross | Orlando Magic – Coming off his best season as a pro, Ross is hitting the open market at just the right time. A career 37.4% shooter from behind the arc, he can help any team looking for a perimeter player. He’s also solid creating his own shot off the dribble.

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Realistic Options

1. Tomas Satoransky | Washington Wizards – In terms of what the Nuggets need, this former Czech Republic star is the perfect fit. He’s an elite outside shooter, something Denver desperately needs, and he’s crafty cutting to the basket, perfect alongside Nikola Jokic.

2. Jeremy Lamb | Charlotte Hornets – Lamb has improved every single season, averaging a career-high 15.3 points per game last season. He’s a well-rounded wing player, able to shoot, cut and fill the lane in transition. Plus, he’s an above average rebounder.

3. Austin Rivers | Houston Rockets – If a team is looking for a tenacious player who will get after it on both ends, especially defensively, Rivers is an interesting option. Not a great shooter, he can score off the dribble, which makes him invaluable.

***

Centers – With Nikola Jokic on the roster, there isn’t a huge need in the middle for the Nuggets. But the Millsap decision could have a domino effect.

Power Forwards – Depending on what the Nuggets do with Paul Millsap, this could be their No.1 position of need in 2019.

Small Forwards – The weakest link in the Nuggets starting lineup is Will Barton, providing Denver with the perfect place for an upgrade

Next Week: Point Guards – Moving Jamal Murray to the two and bringing in a true point guard would be an interesting proposition for the Nuggets

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Nuggets Free Agency Preview 2019: Shooting Guards