Are you ready for this? The Denver Nuggets have now acquired Charles Smith and Rueben Patterson from Portland and Reggie Evans from Seattle. Rueben Patterson will most likely come off the bench to relieve Carmelo Anthony at small forward. Charles Smith will provide shooting guard support from the bench for Greg Buckner. Reggie Evans is a power forward on a team now with enough depth at power forward for two teams. It will surprising to the Nugg Doctor if he sees much playing time this season.
So it is time for my diagnosis of the trade. I am a little bit perplexed by this one, but here we go. I was under the impression that the Nuggets needed help at the two spot. Charles Smith is averaging only 3.8 points a game and not even a whole assist. I was also under the impression that the two spot was a position that required you to score and play defense, much like Greg Buckner showed us on Tuesday. Why he is now with the Nuggets doesn’t seem to fit with what we were shopping for.
Now to dissect Rueben Patterson and his foreseeable role with the Denver Nuggets. With Carmelo Anthony averaging nearly 37 minutes per game, Rueben is going to have to find a way to contribute without the basketball. This scares the Nugg Doctor because while he shoots a good field goal percentage, just a shade below 50%, it is indicative of his shot selection. Patterson is a slasher and banger off the dribble. He likes to get into the key and score. The only problem with this is you need the ball a lot. Two other areas of concern are his dismal three-point shooting and almost as poor performance record at the free-throw line. One thing positive about Patterson that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet is that he’s a gamer and brings intensity every night.
The most confusing component of the trade to me is Reggie Evans. The 6’8” Evans is putting up numbers almost identical to Eduardo Najera. He certainly isn’t going to start over Kenyon Martin when he is healthy, which now that he is going to be with us down the stretch is hoped to be soon, and in no way shape or form gives us the intangibles that Najera gives us either. Thus leads us to believe that when Najera is back Evans will be on the bench for the majority of game action. Especially with Linas Kleiza now vying for minutes.
Mind wrenching I know, but now lets go a step further and play best/worst case scenario with the midseason move. The best-case scenario is that three former University of Cincinnati players will come together and explode with favorable chemistry. Patterson will ignite Martin, and Johnson will follow. Charles Smith could also blossom into a 12-15 points per game scorer; he is averaging 12.62 points per 48 minutes, and would give us a humungous lift in our weakest position. Obviously being optimistic, Reggie Evans would also find ways to become an effective contributor off the bench regardless of the injury situation at the power forward spot. Who knows, he could be a tremendous asset if Kenyon goes lame again, or Najera takes longer than expected. Best part about this trade is our core nucleus remains unmolested.
Now to play spoiler of the optimistic outlook. Rueben Patterson could very well come in to Denver and cause agitation in shot selection and minutes. Charles Smith could provide little assistance in an unfamiliar, fast break oriented offense. Keep in mind that both he and Patterson are coming from the lowest per game scoring team in the entire league. I have already alluded to what could happen to Reggie Evans. He could find himself at the end of the bench lost in the power forward shuffle if he doesn’t find ways to earn George Karl’s good graces and get rewarded with playing time.
Ah, to have a crystal ball would make this so much easier. Unfortunately, the realm of crystal balls, unicorns, and Pegasus doesn’t exist. The reality is that Nuggets fans are going to have to wait at least until Friday’s game against the Timberwolves to see what materializes from all of this shuffling. I expect the chemistry to be slow to begin with, but hopefully it will be in full bloom right around playoff time. Only time will tell…