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NBA Draft Big Board 3.0: Taking stock of the 2016 international class & the Nuggets draft-and-stash potential

Harrison Wind Avatar
May 23, 2016


With a roster full of youth and the organization’s desire to keep taking steps forward in their rebuilding effort, it’s hard to envision the Nuggets making all three of the selections they currently hold in the first round of next month’s draft.

If they stand pat and don’t make a trade to move up in the lottery or to acquire a rumored star, they have choices of how to use those picks. One direction which Denver will most likely go is towards the draft-and-stash route, which has proven to be successful for the franchise in the past.

Let’s take a look at some of the better International prospects in this year’s draft, including some draft-and-stash options the Nuggets may look at later in the first round.

Dragan Bender (projected 3-10)

At the top is 18-year-old, Croatian national Dragan Bender, who currently plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Bender is an athletic, 7-foot-1 power forward who can play some center and projects as a versatile stretch four at the NBA level. In 35 games between the Euroleague, the Eurocup and the Super Israeli Super League, Bender is averaging 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game and is shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers may leave you wondering how Bender is projected so high, but he’s on one of the better teams in Europe and a lot of coaches there don’t play their young players a ton, especially if they’re headed to the NBA.

Bender runs like a deer in transition and his footwork is coming along nicely on pick-and-pops. He possesses solid form on his jumper and has shown vision outletting the ball to start the break and passing in the halfcourt.

On defense, Bender isn’t a classic rim protector but is explosive enough to come over from the weakside and block shots. He’s got quick enough feet to stay with smaller guards on potential switches and can run the floor with the best of them. He’s currently just 216 pounds and might get pushed around on the block during his rookie year and his low 11.6 rebound rate is a bit concerning even with his relatively small sample size.

Bender is projected to go in the top-10 and with the Nuggets, he could be the team’s stretch four of the future. Versatility may be the most important trait that big men need to have when they enter the league today, and Bender possesses a lot of the skills we’ve seen in some of the league’s frontlines.

Timothe Luwawu (projected 10-25)

Luwawu’s frame and shot checks a lot of boxes for a modern-day two-way wing and his measurables and skill set are what makes him so appealing. Standing at 6-foot-7 with a rangy wingspan, Luwawu has great vision and all the tools to be an effective pick and roll player.

Luwawu has made a lot of progress in his jumper over the past year and has developed into a quality catch-and-shoot weapon from the corner and wing. His ability to slash and get into the teeth of the defense makes him a beast in transition. Luwawu struggles with turnovers and his 17.3 percent turnover rate as of a week ago is a cause for concern and he will have to prove he can make shots against better defenses.

I’m comfortable with Luwawu in the top-10, and he should be a quality role player wherever he ends up, but could blossom into something more in the right situation.

Furkan Korkmaz (projected 12-25, potential draft-and-stash)

Korkmaz, a Turkish native who plays at Anadolu Efes, is extremely raw but oozes with potential. He’s a fluid 6-foot-7 athlete who runs the break well and has a great looking jumper. Korkmaz is comfortable and confident in the pick and roll, able to pull up for a jumper or slash into the paint. He’s also a skilled finished at the rim which is helped by his athleticism.

Currently, Korkmaz weighs just 175 pounds, but even that seems generous and his slight frame gives him trouble on the defensive end. He easily gets backed down and outmuscled by stronger defenders and also doesn’t have the best fundamentals on that end of the floor. Sometimes his effort on defense has been questioned, but the intangibles are there, Korkmaz just has to capitalize on the gifts he has.

Juan (Juancho) Hernangomez (projected 20-40, potential draft-and-stash)

The Nuggets were in Spain to visit with their 2015 second-round draft-and-stash prospect Nikola Radicevic a few weeks ago and reportedly checked up on Hernangomez who plays at Estudiantes in Madrid. Hernangomez is a versatile 6-foot-9 forward who scores in a variety of ways.

He can score from both the perimeter and block, and is comfortable in the pick and roll and also shoots 37.9 percent from three. Hernangomez averaged 9.8 points on 46.9 percent shooting and 5.6 rebounds per game in Spain’s top league. Historically, the 20-year-old is putting up incredibly good numbers for such a young player in Spain’s ACB League, as DraftExpress detailed here.

Hernangomez is fluid but not an amazing athlete, can finish above the rim and does show good verticality defending the basket. His shot is smooth, looks great and he has legitimate range. He’s also comfortable spotting up off screens, a necessary skill for of stretch fours. He’s shown the ability to attack closeouts and looks mildly comfortable handling the ball. He has a great feel for the game too and always knows where to be on offense.

Others to watch:

Thon Maker – Forward/Center | 19-years-old | 225 pounds | projected 20-50

Ivica Zubac – Center | 19-years-old | 7-foot-1 | 265 pounds | projected 20-40

Ante Zizic – Center |19-years-old | 6-foot-11 | 240 pounds | projected 20-45

Petre Cornelie – Forward | 20-years-old | 6-foot-11 | 220 pounds |  projected 25-50

Zhou Qi – Center | 20-years-old | 7-foot-2 | 218 pounds | projected 25-50

Hernangomez could be an interesting draft-and-stash prospect for the Nuggets if they end up with a late first-round pick.
Hernangomez could be an interesting draft-and-stash prospect for the Nuggets if they end up with a late first-round pick.
Harrison Wind’s Big Board 3.0
Rank Player School Year (Age) Position Height Weight
1 Brandon Ingram Duke Fr. (18) SF 6-9 190
2 Ben Simmons LSU Fr. (19) F 6-10 240
3 Kris Dunn Providence Jr. (22) G 6-4 220
4 Dragan Bender Croatia — (18) PF 7-1 216
5 Jamal Murray Kentucky Fr. (19) SG 6-4 207
6 Timothe Luwawu France — (20) SG 6-7 205
7 Buddy Hield Oklahoma Sr. (22) SG 6-4 214
8.  ↑4 Marquese Chriss Washington Fr. (18) PF 6-9 225
9.   ↓1 Jaylen Brown California Fr. (19) F 6-7 225
10. ↓1 Denzel Valentine Michigan St. Sr. (22) G 6-5 220
11.  ↓1 Henry Ellenson Marquette Fr. (19) PF 6-11 245
12. ↓1 Furkan Korkmaz Turkey — (18) SG 6-7 175
13. ↑4 Skal Labissiere Kentucky Fr. (20) PF/C 6-11 225
14. Brice Johnson North Carolina Sr. (21) PF/C 6-10 230
15  ↓1 Domantas Sabonis Gonzaga So. (19) PF 6-11 240
16. ↓3 Deyonta Davis Michigan St. Fr. (19) PF 6-9 225
17. ↓3 Jakob Poeltl Utah So. (20) C 7-0248
18. Wade Baldwin IV Vanderbilt So. (20) PG 6-3 194
19 Ivica Zubac Serbia —  (19) C 7-1 265
20. ↑1 Tyler Ullis Kentucky So. (20) PG 5-9 160
21. ↓2 Dejounte Murray Washington Fr. (19) PG 6-4 170
22 Malik Beasley Florida St. Fr. (19) SG 6-5 196
23. DeAndre Bembry Saint Josephs Jr. (21) SF 6-6 210
24. Taurean Prince Baylor Sr. (21) F 6-8 220
25. Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame Jr. (21) PG 6-1 201
26. Thon Maker Australia — (19) PF/C 7-1 218
27. Cheick Diallo Kansas Fr. (19) PF/C 6-9 220
28. Gary Payton II Oregon St. Sr. (23) PG 6-3 190
29. Juan Hernangomez Spain — (20) F 6-9 220
30. Patrick McCaw UNLV So. (20) SG 6-7 181


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