The Denver Nuggets have not been one of the more effective teams in building through the draft. The only player on the roster who was drafted by the Nuggets is Carmelo Anthony (although Nene and Linas Kleiza were drafted for the Nuggets by other teams). Aside from failing to help their team through the draft there is one thing you can count on with the Nuggets. They will probably make a trade.
Since drafting Carmelo Anthony in 2003 with their first round pick the Nuggets have traded a first round pick every season since. The years they have not already given their pick away they still end up working up a trade on draft night. In 2004 they drafted Jameer Nelson with the 20th pick and shipped him off to
The wheeling and dealing even goes back before 2003. In the 2002 draft Antonio McDyess and the draft rights to Frank Williams were sent to
In fact over the previous ten drafts, going back to 1999, the Nuggets have used and retained their first round pick only three times. Who were the three players? Skita, Melo and Julius Hodge. Not the best track record. Maybe we should pray for a trade.
Even so, there is a chance that the Nuggets can help themselves in the draft. It is clear what this team needs, an upgrade at point guard and some front court depth in case Kenyon Martin, Nene or Camby are either injured or traded. They are set at shooting guard with Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith. They have a good duo of small forwards with Melo and Kleiza. And if Martin and Nene could be counted on to stay healthy and George Karl would use Steven Hunter they would be pretty well set in the front court as well. Add in Eduardo Najera and the Nuggets go at least two deep at every position except for point guard where they may very well be zero deep.
In the Ridiculous Upside blogger mock draft I selected Mario Chalmers citing the facts that he is a good defender, can shoot, penetrate and knows how to play winning basketball on a talented team. At the time I thought it was a bit of a reach, but since then Chalmers stock has skyrocketed to the point where he could go as early as 12th to
If Chalmers does not drop to the Nuggets at pick number 20 they would have to either address their point guard position via a trade or free agency. One potential deal I could foresee would be a swap with the Trailblazers.
The question then is who could they draft?
Kyle Weaver out of
Another potential point guard prospect the Nuggets could consider in the late first or early second round is Jamont Gordon from
The other available options would be Mike Taylor, who was booted from Iowa State and played with the Idaho Stampede in the D League last season, or George Hill from IUPUI (that is Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis).
Out of those four players my preference would be for Weaver or Hill although neither is as good of a point guard prospect as Taurean Green.
The Nuggets are a very tight lipped organization this time of year so it is very difficult to surmise what they are thinking. The do have a draft section on their official website. The only really interesting aspect of it is they have a few prospects that they profile by position. I think it will be very interesting to see if they draft a player out of that group of profiled prospects or if that is more of a smokescreen designed to make other teams wonder if those are the players they are interested in. I imagine the profiles were put together by someone in the media department and they are simply their best guesses as to who might be available, but I would not put it past the Nuggets, or any other team really, to use their draft section to spread disinformation.
The players that they have featured by position are point guard Chalmers, shooting guards Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee and Brandon Rush, small forwards Nicholas Batum, Donte Greene and Bill Walker, power forwards Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson and Nathan Jawai and centers Kosta Koufos, Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee and Marreese Speights. They also list a handful of other prospects after the featured players. The only other point guard listed is Mike Taylor. Jamont Gordon and Kyle Weaver are listed, but as shooting guards. Hill is not listed, but that might just mean he is the player they really want. The list of the other players named is too long to print here, but you can check it out for yourself if you are so inclined.
Blah, blah, blah, what does all of this mean?
My ideal draft for the Nuggets, aside from them trading Camby (to the Knicks for the 6th pick - Jerryd Bayless? and Eddy Curry - by him out) and AI (to Cleveland for Wally Szczerbiak, Andreson Varejao and the 19th pick – Courtney Lee) as I have discussed previously, would be to have Chalmers fall to the Nuggets with their 20th pick, which is entirely possible. Even though Chad Ford at ESPN.com has Chalmers going 12th to
If the Nuggets cannot land Chalmers, the other player I am interested in is J.J. Hickson from
Other players that intrigue me are Donte Greene, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee and Kosta Koufos though I have reservations about all of them. With Green I do not see the need to add another high volume shooter to the roster. Douglas Roberts is not a good perimeter shooter and Lee is a solid player in the mold of a Rodney Stucky, although without the point skills, but my primary concern with him is that his presence might make it easier to let J.R. Smith walk and talent wise Lee is a far cry from Smith. Koufos is a highly skilled big man, but can he rebound and defend against NBA centers?
Nicholas Batum is another player that I like, but how does he fit in with Melo and Kleiza in front of him? He probably would not play for at least two seasons and with the Nuggets current aged roster they are playing for now, not the future.
There are also a gaggle of players that I am exceedingly fearful of and that group includes Robin Lopez, Alexis Ajinca, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan. Lopez is nowhere near even Steven Hunter’s talent level. Ajinca is the typical workout wonder that is shooting up the charts despite the fact that he was not able to be an effective player in
With all of that being said, in the end none of us really have any idea what the Nuggets will do. Will they trade down? Trade up? Trade out? Will Chalmers fall to them? If so, do they take him or go after some high risk, high reward bust waiting to happen?
Only time will tell and fortunately for us that time is near.