The Denver Nuggets will have increased expectations this season given the return to play for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. The team has failed to have their best lineups on the floor with the absence of this duo, but that will change. As Denver flips the switch from a good team to a title contender, they must be sure to have the piece in place to make this possible. While Murray and Porter Jr are certain to make an impact, the Nuggets also must be sure to have the proper complementary pieces in place around superstar Nikola Jokic.
Here are three possible free agents the Nuggets should be looking to target in free agency.
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3 players Nuggets must sign in 2022 NBA Free Agency
It has been an up-and-down career for Ricky Rubio. After a strong start last season, Rubio was forced to be shut down for the year with a torn ACL. It is unclear what the market is for the 31-year-old, but Rubio would be a nice addition to the Nuggets. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game with the Cavs. He would be a terrific piece for the second unit and provide some lineup versatility in Denver.
He may not have lived up to the lofty expectations after going 5th overall in the 2009 draft, but Rubio has reinvented himself. Monte Morris is currently set to be the backup point guard and Facundo Campazzo is a restricted free agent. Ricky Rubio brings a slightly different element than either guy as the backup point guard. Rubio can be more reliably counted on to run the second unit and is the best passer out of this group. While it is possible a team believes highly in Rubio and outprices the Nuggets, such as the Cavs making a strong attempt to resign him, Dever should certainly try their luck, too.
A lengthy 29-year-old forward, Chris Boucher has spent the past four seasons with the Toronto Raptors. Standing 6’10” with a 7’3″ wingspan, Chris Boucher has a very unique style of play. The Oregon product averaged 9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game last season. This was a small step back for the power forward as he was coming off an impressive 2020-21 season.
Boucher shot a career-high 38.3% from beyond the three-point arc on 3.9 attempts per game during the 2021 season. He also averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. The emergence of Scottie Barnes and the overall logjam of lengthy forwards in Toronto likely stunted Boucher’s growth. This also could provide the Nuggets with the opportunity to add him at a discounted price.
He is a willing floor spacer on offense and an above-average rebounder on both sides of the ball. Despite the overall statistical decrease last season, Boucher did average a career-high 2.2 offensive boards per game. Adding another asset on the boards who plays with a high motor would help Denver greatly. His lengthy wingspan would also be a major help on the defensive side of the ball. His ability to play alongside Nikola Jokic or with the second unit would make him a useful addition to the team.
While centers have become largely devalued across the NBA, this is not the case with the Nuggets. The franchise has its system in place to best compliment reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic whom just about everything runs through offensively. Considering his importance to the team, investing in a high-quality backup to fill in when he is off the court is also extremely important. The Nuggets found success by using DeMarcus Cousins in this role last season and the team would be wise to re-sign him once again.
The 31-year-old big man was released by the Milwaukee Bucks midseason last year which opened the door for the Nuggets to bring him in. Despite only averaging 13.9 minutes per game last season, Cousins’ impact was greatly felt. The four-time all-star averaged 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. The impressive flashes of playmaking were especially notable this season. Despite technically being labeled as a center, Jokic is the best passer on the Nuggets. It is rare for a big man to be relied upon to make such an impact passing the ball, and leaves massive shoes for the backup center to fill. While DeMarcus Cousins is certainly no floor general, he is one of the best backup big men in the NBA and has a versatile enough game to do exactly what the Nuggets want.