The Nuggets will have the No. 7 pick in next month’s NBA draft after failing to move up in the lottery for a 14th time. All is not lost, though, the Nuggets didn’t move back and should be in position, especially with their bounty of assets to be a major player in the lottery. The BSN Nuggets crew gave their thoughts on the draft and how the Nuggets should approach what could be a pivotal night in the organization’s history.
What are Denver’s biggest needs heading into the draft?
Jake Marsing (@JakeDMarsing): They need help at shooting guard. Gary Harris is a nice young option who grew a heck of a lot last year, but they need shooters. If you can grab one of this draft’s top three two guards in Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown, or Furkan Korkmaz, you’d be upgrading that roster tremendously.
Dan Fatigato (): The Nuggets biggest need for me is more 3-point shooting. A stretch four that can knock down threes and shooting depth off the bench would be a good place to start. Mudiay needs to play with as many shooters as possible at this point and in today’s NBA (I hate this phrase, but it is somewhat unavoidable), it’s such an equalizer that can make up for lapses elsewhere. And have you seen the Cavs these playoffs? Channing Frye, Kevin Love, JR Smith, Kyrie Irving – teams with multiple 3-point shooters create such a math and morale problem for opponents. Plus Nikola Jokic is an ideal big man for spot up shooters to thrive with given his passing gifts.
Johnny Domenico (@JohnnyD_BSN): The Nuggets are in an interesting spot in that they don’t actually have a truly glaring need at any position. That gives the front office the opportunity to draft the best player available, then respond with corresponding roster moves. Any moves before or during the draft will likely be to move up from No. 7 and increase the odds of finding their elusive “superstar” earlier in the draft, or trade No. 7 along with their other picks and players to get a superstar that way. The only real need I see is to settle on a rotation while still giving the young guys enough playing time to develop their games.
An Nguyen (): I think our biggest need has to be shooting. The Nuggets shot a putrid 26th-best in the league from three last year in a time where spacing and shooting are getting more and more critical. Another need not talked about often enough, is our need for defenders who can guard both guards and bigs, a la Draymond Green. Switching on screens is running rampant and it’s becoming vital to have versatile defenders.
Should the Nuggets try to move either up or down in the lottery and who should they draft at No. 7 if they stay put?
Jake: Both Tim Connelly and Michael Malone said after the lottery on Tuesday night that they would feel comfortable picking at seven. However, I think doing so would be a mistake. They have to move up in this draft to acquire the most talent they possibly can, and with three first-round picks, they’ve certainly got the capital to do so. If Hield somehow falls out of the top four, you have to go get him, in my opinion.
Dan: My gut tells me they should stand pat and stay at seven. I’m on the record as a Timothe Luwawu admirer, although he comes with the risk of the unknown and they might be able to get him later in the draft if some of the latest mocks are to be believed that is. I agree on Buddy, as unfortunately it’s always difficult to get star power in Denver, and he at least has that potential. Plus, the shooting he would bring helps solve some of the Nuggets problems. To do so, they may have to package all three picks, which would probably be worth it.
Johnny: Outside of the top two picks, there are no players that are locks to provide an immediate upgrade, but with three picks in the first round, Denver would be foolish to not at least explore their options to move up. Barring the availability of a guy like Kevin Love or DeMarcus Cousins, standing pat is probably their best option, but it’s hard to imagine the Nuggets finding roster spots for three (or even two) rookies on next year’s roster. Anyone the Nuggets take at No. 7 will take the place of a significant contributor from last season. Hield would take some of Barton’s minutes but is likely to become a much more consistent scorer.
An: I think it’s absolutely imperative that the Nuggets at least attempt to move up from seven using their two other first-round picks as ammo. Fortunately, I believe Tim Connelly knows this too, as he’s been adamant about trying to make playoffs next year – a task that would be much, much more difficult with three fresh rookies on the squad. Worse case scenario: I think Denver takes Luwawu at seven and utilizes the draft-and-stash if we’re unable to package our other picks in a trade.
Which 3 players are at the top of your Nuggets big board if they stay at No. 7?
Jake: 1. Hield, but I don’t think he’s there at seven. 2. Luwawu. 3. Korkmaz, who I agree I think is the most likely player in this entire draft to be a future Denver Nugget.
Dan: Hield if he somehow falls would be my first choice and I don’t think Jamal Murray gets past Minnesota. More realistically, I’d rank my top three as Luwawu, Korkmaz and Denzel Valentine.
Johnny: Hield provides a nice complement to Harris and could anchor the scoring for the second unit, which is something that was hit or miss for the Nuggets last year. Murray has the ability to play alongside any of Denver’s young guards, providing flexibility for Malone in the backcourt. Jaylen Brown is a high-risk, high-reward type of guy, but that’s exactly the kind of gamble the Nuggets need to take if they want to find a future star at seven.
An: If Murray lasts until seven, which I think is very doubtful, he’s my first choice. He solves a lot of problems and has a very good head on his shoulders. Even his floor would bolster our shooting (he shot 25-27 from the NBA three in the draft combine’s shooting drill) and he also solves Denver’s search for a long-term backup point guard since D.J. Augustin could be on a new team next year. It’s also in the Nuggets best interests to take advantage of Jameer Nelson’s mentorship while he’s still here. The more realistic option is Luwawu, a versatile defender, and a competent spot-up shooter. He would fit perfectly with what the Nuggets are trying to build and would put an end to the days of having to start JaKarr Sampson and Axel Toupane, as much as I grew to love those guys. My third choice would be to take on Brown as a project. I think the Nuggets have enough depth next year to afford that and he could blossom into something really special in the future if he manages to improve his shooting.
Who would you take No. 1 overall and is there one guy you’re staying away from at all costs in the lottery?
Jake: I’d take Duke’s Brandon Ingram No. 1 overall, no question about it. He has all the tools you look for in a young NBA player. He needs to improve defensively and put a little more weight on his frame, but, I think he’s absolutely the right pick for the 76ers, especially when you consider the non-basketball related questions that have been raised recently about Ben Simmons’ character. I’d honestly stay away from Simmons in the top three.
Dan: Simmons really caught my eye early on when he had a ton of hype and came out scoring and rebounding like a monster. I know he tailed off at the same time that Ingram was coming on and didn’t even make the tourney, but I still think he has the higher ceiling. I’d take Simmons No. 1. Admittedly I’m not much of a college basketball fan, so I’m not super informed on what Ingram can do better than Simmons, but No. 1 picks through the years are usually either franchise guys or horrendous busts and I don’t see him falling into the latter category. But if I’m the 76ers specifically? For a team with no veteran leaders, maybe Ingram is the safer pick, and you can team him with a fellow Dukie in Okafor. I’d probably stay away from Bender because he brings back memories of Jonathan Bender. Kidding, kind of.
Johnny: Barring a significant trade, I would take Ingram considering his shooting ability and the fact that both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have never been able to put healthy seasons together. Ben Simmons could really turn out to be a superstar, though, so I would have a hard time passing on a guy with such unique abilities given his potential. I would probably take Simmons, then look to trade a couple of frontcourt players to carve out some playing time for him. As you can see I’m pretty torn and think they will both be outstanding players at the next level. It was just one game, but Jakob Poeltl was so utterly dominated by Domantas Sabonis in their NCAA Tournament matchup that I just don’t see how he can become a productive center without significant improvement. People seem to love Henry Ellenson’s shooting, but I don’t know much else about his game. His shooting better be great!
An: Ingram. I know, I know, Simmons has “more star potential.” But the thing is, Ingram’s skill set is absolutely perfect for the NBA today, as well as fitting in with the Nuggets current roster. He also has plenty of star potential himself, despite not being able to take over games as well as Simmons. Just remember, the Spurs didn’t draft Kawhi Leonard for his star potential, they saw a player who would help them win and they got him. That’s what the Nuggets would need to do. I’m really not feeling Ellenson and Poeltl. Not sure what all the hype is about around them. I think it’s just because of the glaring lack of quality big men in this draft. Simmons simply would be a tough fit for the Nuggets because he would dimish the value of Mudiay. Simmons needs the ball in his hands to be effective and would relegate Mudiay to being a spot-up shooter. We’re just trying to fit a square peg in a round hole here. Ingram on the other hand, can defend and knock down shots. He’s also an underrated playmaker and isolation scorer. He would help the Nuggets from day one, no questions. I would stay away from Bender as I’m just not that big of a fan. The Nuggets definitely don’t need any more big men and I’m not as high on him as others. I think people are just getting “Porzingis Fever”.