Evaluating the Denver Nuggets Draft


1st Round, 18th Overall: Point Guard, Ty Lawson (UNC), 6', 195 lbs. (in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves)

Last night was a huge success for the Denver Nuggets. By trading into the first round to draft Ty Lawson out of, George Karl's alma-mater, the University of North Carolina, the Nuggets have essentially found their backup point guard.

Can the Nuggets waive goodbye to Anthony Carter? Not so fast.

Thanks to reader NuggetsFan99 for sharing this Yahoo! link with these thoughts from Karl on AC and Lawson:

 

"My hope is that we can get A.C. back and Chauncey and have Ty as a guy who will work hard and prove that he’s got to play sometime," Karl said. "He’s a great talent. Over the last four or five years, I’ve become more and more impressed by little guards because you just can’t cover em. It’s hard to cover ‘em. From what I’ve been evaluating and seeing is you’ve got one of those guys who’s very difficult to cover."

 

On that same radio interview with Mark Warkentien the other day he mentioned how much the Nuggets liked having that protected first-round pick and now we know why. It landed the Nuggets a great prospect at a position they sorely needed to upgrade.

I also really like what I'm hearing from Ty Lawson about being a Denver Nugget. I think everyone participating in this blog wanted Chauncey Billups to get a chance to mentor a young guard and Lawson seems like a willing student.

 

"He’s (Billups) probably going to be a Hall of Fame guard and he’s an All-Star guard right now. So I’ll learn tricks of the trade and veteran moves," Lawson said. "He knows how to run a team and be a leader, so everything. In practice I’ll go hard at him He’ll be my mentor."

 

And in drafting Lawson they are getting a guy coming off his best college season. Not only did the Tar Heels win the National Championship (something Carmelo Anthony will be able to relate to), but in 29.9 minutes per game Lawson averaged 16.6 ppg on 53.2% shooting (shot 47.2% from three-point land (51-108)), 6.6 assists per game, 2.1 steals, and only 1.9 turnovers per game (3.48 assist to turnover ratio).

And he turned things up in the NCAA tournament versus LSU, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Villanova, and Michigan State.

 

 Regular Season    NCAA Tournament  

 Points

16.6

20.8

 Assists  

6.6

6.8

 Steals

2.1

3.2

 

I didn't think the Nuggets had a realistic shot at landing one of the top point guards in this draft, but they went out and surprised a lot of people, myself included, and landed, in my opinion, the most NBA ready point guard in the draft. There is some concern about Lawson's toe injury that he suffered in college, but I don't think it will be an issue.

This is what I had to say yesterday about the Nuggets chances at Lawson:

 

The unrealistic options:
Eric Maynor and Ty Lawson. They may be too rich for Denver's blood, as the Nuggets would have to crack the top 15-20 range to get them ... not exactly the 26th spot that Wark mentioned, but he is a poker player and likes to bluff.

The Perfect Storm ...

Things really turned in the Nuggets favor when at the 13th pick the Indiana Pacers, who were supposed be to drafting a point guard (maybe even Lawson) instead selected Lawson's teammate Tyler Hansbrough. That was the one slip that was needed for a top point guard prospect to slip in the draft and it worked in Denver's favor as it allowed Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, and Jeff Teague to remain on the board until the 76'ers took Holiday with the 17th pick and then Denver was able to work out the trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

I also can't express the importance of the Bulls selecting James Johnson out of Wake Forest at 16. The T-Wolves apparently told teams that if Johnson was available at 18 they were going to take him and keep him. It's always funny how these things play out and for the Nuggets it all ended up working out ... now Lawson just has to play his way onto the floor! But being a Tar Heel should help his cause with George Karl.

 

2nd Round, 34th overall: Point Guard, Sergio Llull (Spain) 6'3'', 175 lbs, point guard*

*The Nuggets traded the rights to Llull to the Houston Rockets for cash
Andrew from the Denver Stiffs is reporting the Nuggets received a record $2.25 million for Llull's rights (an NBA record for a 2nd Round Pick and the money the Nuggets are getting will go directly to help re-sign Chris Andersen.)

 

I was talking to my buddy Rory while the Nuggets were on the clock and ESPN was on commercial break. We were discussing the possibilities of players like DeJuan Blair and Sam Young from Pittsburgh, Chase "Bread and" Budinger from Arizona, and Patrick Mills out of St. Mary's.

As I was making a point, Rory interrupted me with, "Who the !#^* did we just take?"

I was lost for a moment before realizing that the pick was just posted on the television during the commercial break. I had to rewind the live action (thanks to my handy DVR courtesy of Comcast! How about some money for that plug?) and see whom Denver just drafted. Needless to say I was disappointed, but like Denver Stiffs points out ... I think Denver is in a better position now that they have the $2.25 million instead of DeJuan Blair who Chad Ford of ESPN said on Bill Simmons' latest podcast has virtually no ACLs in his knees and may have a very short career.

Quick side note: Hey ESPN ... I realize the 2nd Round of the Draft may not be that important, but we only get two rounds of the NBA draft! This isn't the 6th Round of the NFL draft! I didn't get to see my team's only real pick get announced, discussed by the yahoos on ESPN, or see any highlights of Sergio Llull ... had the Nuggets not made the Lawson deal I would have been even more upset about this!!

 

 

So, the Nuggets reportedly received $2.25 million for their pick to go along with the $2 million to $3 million they received for being under the NBA's luxury tax at the end of the 2008-09 season, as I noted in my blog post here.

That's an extra $4.25 million to $5.25 milion for Mr. Kroenke to spend on Birdman, Dahntay Jones, Johan Petro, A.C., and whoever else the Nuggets decide to add to the roster next season.

Not a bad days work for the Nuggets and a great draft for a team that hasn't had a first-round pick since the immortal Julius Hodge in 2005.

 

 

 

Click here for round-by-round draft results.

Click here for the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla's thoughts on Ty Lawson.

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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