What did Trey do to deserve all the hate?
It’s a legitimate question, how did Trey Lyles get onto everyone’s must-trade list? Sure, he’s had a down season shooting but otherwise, he’s performing really well, particularly for a guy that, at $3.4 million is the 102nd best paid power forward in the league. For a team that’s barreling toward salary issues, having Lyles at such a favorable salary is a huge deal.
Put another way, do you think there are 101 power forwards in the NBA better than Trey Lyles? There are not and until someone steps up behind Paul Millsap, the Nuggets reserve PF will have to be by committee.
Lyles has struggled with shooting but otherwise statistically, he is flat or in the case of steals and blocks, slightly up. He generally makes his free throws, shooting 71% from the stripe and most importantly, he fits the roster. Beyond the salary, beyond the stats, Lyles just fits the Denver Nuggets.
Lyles was the 12th pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That year the Kentucky Wildcats posted four of the top 13 picks in the draft with Karl-Anthony Towns going first, Willie Cauley-Stein sixth, Lyles twelfth and Devin Booker thirteenth. Emmanuel Mudiay fell to seventh and the Nuggets couldn’t pass on the guard with all the upside. Had Mudiay not been available at seven, the Nuggets had two guys they were really high on and one of them likely would have been the pick. One was Duke swingman/shooting guard Justise Winslow, the other was Lyles.
Denver had long coveted Lyles for his touch from the field and his defensive ability. In a perfect world, Lyles would step into Millsap’s spot when Paul moves on from Denver. That is all still on the table, with no clear challenger to the spot, Lyles has a pathway to Denver’s starting lineup.
Of course he needs to improve his shooting, all of the Nuggets do at this point but Lyles brings a lot of positives to this team with not a lot of salary attached. Like many of the current Nuggets it’s also important to remember that Trey is just 24 years old.
Lots of basketball mileage left on him.