As the NBA All-Star break approaches, some teams are thrilled with their season so far. Some teams are disappointed with how their season has gone. And some teams are right in the middle – either they are just out of playoff contention or they are only a 7th or 8th seed. Let’s take a look at 3 teams that are only one trade away from securing a playoff spot.
New York Knicks and Greg Monroe
The Knicks made one of the biggest moves of the off-season last year when they traded for the former MVP Derrick Rose to form a big three alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Unfortunately, as of now, they are still a few games short of even making the playoffs. Let’s take a look at why I think Greg Monroe is the answer for the Knicks.
Greg Monroe is in a similar situation on a different team, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have made it clear they want someone else to take over the center position after making John Henson the starter and drafting Thon Maker. So it’s clear that the Bucks want to trade Monroe, but why is he a good fit for the Knicks? Well, the triangle offense Knicks GM Phil Jackson is so determined to utilize, requires a good post scorer and their current center, Joakim Noah, just isn’t that. If they acquire Monroe not only will they have another option on offense but a good fit for their complicated offense. The Bucks would also get rid of an expensive center that doesn’t work with their offense and doesn’t fit in with their young core.
Portland Trail Blazers and Nerlens Noel
Last season, the Blazers were one of the biggest surprises. This season they are one of the biggest disappointments. They have one of the most explosive backcourts in the NBA but so far this season they are only 16 and 22. Their biggest issue is defense. They are giving up 111 points per game which ranks 28th in the league. I think the answer to their defensive woes is Nerlens Noel.
Nerlens is a super athletic shot blocker who can be effective on offense by catching lobs and getting offensive rebounds. Unfortunately, on the Sixers, he gets limited minutes behind their other two big men Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. If Portland were to make a move for Noel it would improve their defense and allow them to get back to playoff form. The Sixers could acquire a young player from the Blazers like Al-Farouq Aminu or Noah Vonleh. A trade like this would make Portland a contender again and allow the Sixers to continue to rebuild with the addition of a young player.
Milwaukee Bucks and Jordan Clarkson
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been nothing short of amazing this year for the Bucks and since he’s only 22 the future looks very bright in Milwaukee. So far this season, the Bucks are 18 and 16 which while an improvement over last year, it’s not enough to go deep in the playoffs. One of their weaknesses is the point guard position. Even though Giannis can play PG it still helps to have a traditional point guard and their only other good option is Matthew Dellavedova.
This is why the Bucks should try to make a move for Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers. The Lakers have two very young point guards in D’Angelo Russel and Clarkson who are currently starting alongside each other. If the Bucks made a move for Clarkson they could give the Lakers a more traditional PG like Rashad Vaughn or Kris Middleton. Milwaukee is already 5th in the league in fastbreak scoring. If they added Clarkson, I believe they would possibly be the most dangerous team in the league on the fastbreak and would very quickly be able to compete for a championship.
As the trade deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see if any of these teams have the courage to pull the trigger on these deals and try to secure a spot in the playoffs.