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Henry Ellenson would provide Nuggets offensive boost, but defensive questions remain

Dan Fatigato Avatar
June 12, 2016


Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

Henry Ellenson was in Denver last week for an individual pre-draft workout with the Nuggets, meaning the team has legitimate interest in the forward, or his agent only wants him to workout solo. He stands currently at No. 11 on BSN’s latest Big Board, and the Nuggets have a very real possibility of landing him with one of their first-round picks. Ellenson is a strong 6-foot-10 four-man that averaged 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a freshman at Marquette last season.


Though Marquette had a disappointing season, Ellenson was a real bright spot. He led the team in scoring and rebounding, displaying a combination of strength, finesse, and tenacity. At 245 pounds, he can absorb contact to finish at the rim, but he also possesses uncommon skill with the ball, able to drive with his left or right hand and create shots with an array of moves. He battles for positioning in the post and on the offensive glass.

Ellenson is not the most explosive forward in the draft, but he compensates with his nifty handle, potent pump fake and precise footwork in the paint. He is developing more range on his jumper, as he understands the way the NBA game is evolving.

He shot just 29 percent from three his freshman year, but the capability is there. His shot needs to be harnessed and nurtured at the next level and Ellenson will benefit from increased space in the NBA game.

Ellenson’s best attribute offensively may be his hands. He’s great at snatching the ball off the glass and securing it in a crowd. He can be a point guard’s best friend with his ability to catch quick passes in the lane and finish with finesse or power.

He struggles overall on defense but can be a factor as a defensive rebounder who excels at the “grab-and-go” in the same fashion that Draymond Green, Blake Griffin or even Nikola Jokic get rebounds and push the ball in transition.

Overall, he projects as a potent scoring and rebounding four who can play a little five, but whose minutes may be limited by his defensive struggles.


Like Bill Murray in Space Jam, defense is Ellenson’s enemy. All the dexterity and footwork, not to mention the hustle that he displays on offense does not translate to the defensive end.

On pick-and-rolls, he doesn’t hedge and sometimes loses his man. When he gets switched out on a smaller player, he often trips over his own feet trying to stay in front of him.

On the interior, his 9-foot-1 reach should help him out, but Ellenson lacks the elevation to truly protect the rim. He also lacks focus in off-ball situations leading to open shots for his man.

However, Ellenson is just 19-years-old and can develop into a passable defender with time, but it’s hard to see him turning into a defensive force.

Potential fit in Denver – There is always a place for 6-foot-10 scoring and rebounding interior players on an NBA roster, but the Nuggets are pretty stocked at the position currently and may be looking for power forwards with a bit more small-ball versatility. Ellenson could fit as a backup to Kenneth Faried, though he won’t help the team’s defense. He may be a reach for them at No. 7 but would be great value if he slips to 15 or 19.

Current projection – Ellenson’s a Wisconsin native that played at Marquette, so he could be destined for the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 10.

Ellenson should make an offensive impact from day 1, but his defense will need to catch up. Credit: Maggie Bean


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