Back in 2009, the Nuggets had a high-priced team with some high-profile players. Four of the five starters were former lottery selections in: Chauncey Billups the 3rd pick of the 1997 draft, Carmelo Anthony the 3rd pick of the 2003 draft, Kenyon Martin the 1st pick of the 2000 draft, and Nene Hilario the 7th pick of the 2002 draft (Dahntay Jones was the 20th pick of the 2003 draft, the only non-lotto pick of that starting group).
Currently with Danilo Gallinari out of the lineup, the Nuggets don't have a single lottery pick* in the starting unit with Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee. These Nuggets have been built with a different blueprint, but that hasn't meant lowered expectations.
A lottery pick indicated draft picks Nos. 1-14.
A look at the 2011-12 Nuggets roster of when and where the players were drafted:
Arron Afflalo 2007, 27th overall by Detroit
Chris Andersen 2001, undrafted
Corey Brewer 2007, 7th overall by Minnesota
Wilson Chandler 2007, 23rd by New York
Kenneth Faried 2011, 22nd by Denver
Danilo Gallinari 2008, 6th by New York
Jordan Hamilton 2011, 26th by Dallas*
Al Harrington 1998, 25th by Indiana
Kosta Koufos 2008, 23rd by Utah
Ty Lawson 2009, 18th by Minnesota*
JaVale McGee 2008, 18th by Washington
Andre Miller 1999, 8th by Cleveland
Timofey Mozgov 2010 free agent from Russia
Julyan Stone 2011 undrafted
* = The Nuggets made trades for Lawson and Hamilton prior to the players be drafted. They were drafted specifically for the Nuggets.
It's pretty interesting to look at the Nuggets current roster, see where the players were drafted, and then compare your expectations for the team to where the guys were selected. Denver is made up of only three lottery selections in Gallo, Brewer, and 'Dre. Miller is entering the twilight of his career, but he refuses to really slow down at 36 years-old.
We have high expectations for this team, and while guys like Chandler, Afflalo, McGee, Lawson, Faried, Harrington were all thought to have either major flaws in their game judging by where they were selected - they have been changing perceptions ever since the day they were selected.
Is it crazy to expect this team to be able to come together as fast as that WCFs team of 2009? It is an interesting thing to consider. Masai Ujiri has put together a complete roster of guys who were castoffs, overlooked, and considered expendable for other player options. That's how it works in the NBA and the Nuggets have been using trades, the draft, and free agency to mix and match the semblance of one unit.
Each player on the roster is a success story. Nobody on this roster has had an easy go of it in the League. And if you are saying to yourself, "Well Gallo had high expectations and was loved in New York." Well, think again ... check the reaction of the heavily populated New York crowd on draft night back in 2008 ...
These Nuggets have been fighting for their NBA lives from Day 1 and this current playoff race and odds are something each guy should be accustomed to. The Nuggets have an uphill battle, but haven't they always?
Just for fun, let's go through each draft class and take a look at the players drafted ahead of and around the current Nuggets players ...
22nd Kenneth Faried - looking like the steal of the draft in his rookie season.
25th MarShon Brooks – worked his way into the Nets starting lineup.
26th Jordan Hamilton - acquired in a trade with the Blazers and Mavericks.
Nuggets didn't keep any of their first-round picks this season. They had the 16th pick at one time that went to Minnesota who selected Luke Babbit. Also the Nuggets had the 25th pick that went to Memphis who selected Dominique Jones.
18th Ty Lawson - Nuggets traded with the Timberwolves to obtain Lawson.
20th Eric Maynor – backup for Thunder before tearing ACL.
25th Rodrigue Beaubois – in-and-out of Mavericks starting lineup.
In 2009, Denver originally owned what would become the 26th pick, that was sent to the Thunder and eventually the Bulls who selected Taj Gibson, who is a key bench contributor in Chicago. What a point guard loaded draft this was. The Timberwolves selected Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn ahead of Lawson.
1st Derrick Rose - Bulls
3rd O.J. Mayo – Minnesota – traded for Love
4th Russell Westbrook - SuperSonics
5th Kevin Love – Memphis – traded for Mayo
6th Danilo Gallinari - Knicks
18th JaVale McGee - Wizards
21st Ryan Anderson - Nets
23rd Kosta Koufos - Jazz
24th Serge Ibaka - SuperSonics
25th Nic Batum - Rockets
Denver’s pick that season was the 20th overall and went to Charlotte who selected Alexis Ajinca … who? Exactly. Looking back at this draft, it was LOADED. Check out how many of those guys are currently playing major roles for their respective teams.
1st Greg Oden
2nd Kevin Durant
3rd Al Horford
4th Mike Conley Jr.
5th Jeff Green
6th Yi Jianlian
7th Corey Brewer
8th Brandon Wright
9th Joakim Noah
10th Spencer Hawes
22nd Jared Dudley
23rd Wilson Chandler
24th Rudy Fernandez - Phoenix
25th Morris Almond
26th Aaron Brooks
27th Arron Afflalo
28th Tiago Splitter
29th Alondo Tucker
Denver had their hand in two selections that year that never came to town (part of the Allen Iverson deal): the 21st pick by the 76ers for Daequan Cook and the 30th pick by the 76ers, Petteri Koponen out of Finland. Denver now has four members of this draft class and all of them have played a big role with the team this season.
1st Elton Brand
2nd Steve Francis
3rd Baron Davis
4th Lamar Odom
5th Jon Bender (Nuggets traded this pick to Indiana)
6th Wally Szczerbiak
7th Richard Hamilton
8th Andre Miller
9th Shawn Marion
10th Jason Terry
The Nuggets had their hand in two draft picks that year, trading the 5th overall pick as part of an earlier trade and getting the 18th pick, James Posey as part of another deal. Pretty amazing to see how productive Miller has been this season compared to others in his draft class.
23rd Tyronn Lue
24th Felipe Lopez
25th Al Harrington
26th Sam Jacobson
29th Nazr Mohamed
32nd Rashard Lewis
41st Cuttino Mobley
The Nuggets had their hands in two picks in this draft, taking Raef LaFrentz with the 3rd overall pick and Lue with the 23rd pick. Harrington might be the steal of this draft ... Mobley was a star before his career ended because of a heart condition and Rashard Lewis is surely rich, but has seen a huge drop-off in production.
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