The Denver Nuggets acquired forward Trey Lyles from the Utah Jazz on draft night in exchange for the 13th overall pick. Tuesday, the Nuggets formally introduced Lyles, along with their 2017 draft choices. For Lyles, the trade to Denver resembles a chance to grow as a player and start anew.
“It’s an opportunity for me to kind of reinvent myself as a player on a different team,” Lyles said.
Denver was thrilled when they were able to acquire Lyles last Thursday. Back in the 2015 draft, the Nuggets had him profiled as a top-10 talent.
“We had a chance to add a guy like Trey Lyles, who we had in the top-10 two years ago,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said after the draft. “I think his ability to play both frontcourt positions, his age; he’s only 21 … Big enough to play five. I think he’s a high-IQ guy who can make shots. [He’s] able to move the ball, kind of play the way we like to play.
Lyles should have a positive impact on the Nuggets immediately. Regarded as one of the more versatile young players in the league, Lyles’ game fits the Nuggets mold seamlessly and will give them the much-needed help on the defensive end of the court they have lacked for years.
Outside of Wilson Chandler and the injury-riddled Darrell Arthur, the Nuggets don’t have much length on their roster – a big reason why the team ranked 29th in defensive efficiency last season. Lyles’ size and athleticism will help plug some of the defensive holes that have hurt Denver over the past couple of seasons.
While he is known primarily for his defense, Lyles will have an opportunity to grow into a solid offensive player in the Nuggets’ system alongside their other young players. Known as a dribble and drive type of player, the Nuggets’ offensive scheme plays to Lyles’ strengths.
“I think that plays to me quite perfectly,” Lyles said. “I’m a dribble-drive guy. I can knock down shots too. I’m capable of making plays, so I think I’m going to fit in this system,”
However, the biggest draw is the potential one-two combo of cornerstone Nikola Jokic next to Lyles in the frontcourt, a combo Lyles believes could do some damage on a nightly basis.
“Nikola is a versatile big, so that’s what the league is going to,” Lyles said. “I think that me and him on the floor at the same time could be pretty lethal. Both able to make plays, score, and do multiple things. I think me and him go hand in hand.”
Lyles profiles to be a solid addition to the Nuggets roster, one that will help them on the defensive end of the floor instantly. Having played only two seasons in the league, Lyles will join the rest of the Nuggets young core as they look to grow, improve their games, and hopefully build a championship contending team down the line.
“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder when I was playing, but this helps out a little bit more. It’s a fresh start for me, and I’m excited to get started,” Lyles said.