This morning the Denver Nuggets worked out Will Barton from Memphis, Austin Dufault from Colorado, Kevin Murphy from Tennessee Tech, Andrew Nicholson from St. Bonaventure, Tyshawn Taylor from Kansas, and Marquis Teague from Kentucky.
Royce White's (Iowa State) workout has been rescheduled.
Upon entering the practice court at the Pepsi Center, the six prospects were just finishing up a little scrimmage - all decked out in the powder blue, gold, and white. Sitting across the floor in a row of folding chairs, acting as court-side seats, sat Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke, general manager Masai Ujiri, and head coach George Karl.
It'll be up to the three men, and perhaps a few others, to decide which players the Nuggets will select with the Nos. 20, 38, and 50 picks in the June 28th NBA Draft. Certainly not an easy decision and a nearly impossible one with the current Nuggets roster.
With Ty Lawson and Julyan Stone under contract and manning the point guard postion, could the Nuggets really select Marquis Teague or Tyshawn Taylor? Where would Will Barton fit into the wing rotation that is loaded with Arron Afflalo, Jordan Hamilton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Corey Brewer? It would seem to make the most sense for the Nuggets to go after a big man, perhaps a versatile and intelligent player like Andrew Nicholson - who could stretch the floor a bit for Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, and the Nuggets' attacking style.
There will be more workouts to come this week as the Nuggets brass seeks to find the best fits for their team. It'll be hard to imagine that they'll bring in a better bunch of characters than the ones on hand today. These rookies have been traveling from city-to-city, answering boring question after boring questions about how their game will translate, how much they want to win, and if they could see themselves playing for Team X, Y, or Z. Surely these guys have been studying how to handle the media, so why not lob out some (hopefully) off the wall questions and see if these guys are ready ... (my questions are bolded below, I didn't get a chance to chat with Kevin Murphy or Austin Dufault)
Tyshawn Taylor: The Senior point guard out of Kansas seems like more of a thinker than he probably gets credit for. He, like me, grew up in a house full of women and was the older brother to two sisters. Responsibility is something he has known from a young age and basketball was a place for him to escape the burdens of his childhood.
When asked if playing for the Nuggets was a good fit, Taylor said, "For sure, they get up and down. They play fast. Coach (George) Karl let's them guard and make plays. I would love to be in a position like that, where the ball is in my hands and I can create for my teammates."
When Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post asked Taylor what position he could see himself playing in the NBA, he didn't hesitate when he called out "point guard". Taylor is a kid who is used to being in charge and relishes the opportunity to prove himself in the NBA.
He's thinking he'll be selected between No. 20 - No. 40. Could the Nuggets get a little lucky and grab Taylor at No. 38? And Taylor doesn't think his moves on the court will be the deciding factor on where he is selected as much as who he is, "I think they want to see what kind of person I am, what kind of character I have."
And for The_NGUYENNER, Taylor sees himself like a Ty Lawson, "I watched Ty, at (North) Carolina. The way he gets up and forces the tempo, that's kind of how I want to play. To be in a program like this (Nuggets) where they get up and down, I think that would fit my abilities really well."
Tyshawn talked at length after the workout with assistant coach Melvin Hunt, showed off some outside shooting for the cameras, and was still waiting to have a chat with coach Karl - which was scheduled after the workout. I was impressed with the way Taylor spoke and the confidence he has, he may not have scouts drooling over his potential because he was a Senior, but he seems destined for success.
Marquis Teague: You can't help but to see the youth in Teague's face. He has those soft Allen Iverson eyes and hasn't been beaten down by the media quite yet, as he was only a Freshman at Kentucky last season. Teague knows that stressing his defense is his biggest asset at the moment - defense and potential. It didn't take his brother long (Jeff Teague) to take over the starting gig with the Atlanta Hawks, and some think this younger brother has a brighter future.
I don't think anyone would come to Denver and claim they didn't like to play a fast-paced style. Teague was no different. He stressed his quick play ability and defensive prowess. He also stated that he probably needs to show people that he can hit shots from the outside on a consistent basis.
George Karl would probably deny it, but he has reputation of not playing rookies a lot. Ty Lawson of course from North Carolina, you're from rival Kentucky - what could you do to get on Karl's good side and get playing time on this team? "Come in and try to defend. Put pressure on the ball full-court and try to make good plays for my teammates. Be a coach on the floor basically."
Are you familiar with MTV Cribs? "Yeah." If we opened up your refrigerator, what would we find in there? "A lot of juices, Gatorade, fruits ... things like that."
Teague gauges that he'll be drafted, "Anywhere between 15 and 25." And when he was asked why he chose to leave school and if winning the NCAA title had anything to do with that, "Winning a National championship and I just felt like I did enough after this season where I could just come out. I was just ready to play on this level."
Has your brother given you any advice upon entering the NBA? "Yeah, he just told me just to be ready and stay focused everyday. It's your job. Come out and compete at a high level. Come into these workouts and show these guys what you can do."
The Tough Mudder, a 10-mile obstacle course, was just here, Cross-Fit is sweeping the nation - what do you do to change up your workout routine? "We like to do boxing. My trainer, we do a little boxing to stay in shape." I asked him about the Manny Pacquaio vs. Tim Bradley fight, he said he didn't watch it. His favorite boxer is Floyd Mayweather, he said he likes Manny, but that he just likes Floyd a little more.
Will Barton: One of our readers mentioned that Barton might be too much like Corey Brewer. They are both tall and slender players. After the workout, Barton showed off his athleticism by doing a couple different dunks - one an alley-oop pass from behind the hoop and another where he was bouncing the ball off the floor to himself. The kid has a ton of athleticism and plays the game with a hard-nosed and scrappy style that he thinks lends himself to being a good fit for the Nuggets.
Barton believes he'll be drafted between the 17-25 range - which would fit right into the Nuggets at No. 20. He has done nine to 11 workouts and has three more left for different teams. This kid seems like he has already been put through the pre-draft workout ringer. I wouldn't blame him for being tired, but he was alert and gracious to those firing questions at him.
Where will you be watching the NBA Draft and who will you be with? "I'm going to be home, in Baltimore, Maryland, that's where I'm from. I'm going to watch the draft with my family. The ones who have coached me and been there all my life."
I know you're from Baltimore, so I have to ask ... Avon Barksdale or Stringer Bell? "Ahh (a laugh) Barksdale. Barksdale."
Barksdale and Bell were both villains or heroes on HBO's hit series The Wire. Bell liked to do things by the book and was, at times, a backstabber and a snake. Barksdale was a working man, a tough guy, wore his emotions on his sleeve, and you always knew where you stood with him. The ultimate villain. Sometimes when you play basketball, you have to play with that villain chip on your shoulder and Barton seems to carry a chip with him and he wants nothing more than to prove that he belongs in the NBA.
Andrew Nicholson: A very intriguing prospect and person. He majored in Physics in college ... another Stephen Hawking? Perhaps someday, but for now he's focusing on basketball and is one of the more complete players in this draft. The knock could be that he didn't play against big time talent all the time, but that was also the knock on Kenneth Faried and he's turned out just fine. Nicholson is quiet and probably a private person, he's only going to let you in so far, but he has real NBA talent.
You're from Ontario, why aren't you playing hockey? You could literally block the entire net! "I'm not sure there are skates that will fit my size." Nicholson said that one with a bit of a laugh.
You were a Physics major ... so, would you rather discover time travel or win an NBA title? Again I got a slight smile from the big man, "Definitely an NBA title, physics is just something I do."
I see some Rasheed Wallace in your game. Am I correct in saying that or who do you mirror your game after? You can stretch the floor, play inside, and you're a fierce defender. "I'm pretty versatile. I play good defense that just makes the game a little easier for me."
The 6'9'' Nicholson has worked out for about nine other teams. You could tell he was getting a little taxed from all the airports, hotels, and workouts that he has been doing. It was his first time ever in Denver, CO ... but he didn't really get a chance to look around.
Let's say you wind up in Denver. We have skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, and more. Where could your fans find you on an off day or night? "I don't do any of that, so on an off night I'll just be in my place. Just relaxing. I'm not that exciting."
Nicholson has that "all business" approach. Like I said, he seems like a bit of a private person, but you can tell he has a lot to talk about. Discovering what he likes to talk about might prove to be a greater task than this knucklehead (me) had first thought.
The feel of what these players have to go through is a bit torturous. Airplanes, shaking hands, hotels, questions from the teams, questions from the media, workouts, tests, and on and on. It'll be over soon for them, so I hope they enjoy some aspects of this experience.
On my way out of the practice gym I ran over and said hello to Ujiri. He asked me if everything went well today, always thinking of others. I told him that he had a good group of players in and then I wished him luck. Ujiri and the Nuggets will need a little bit of luck, just like they got last year as Faried fell to them at No. 22 and Jordan Hamilton as well (No. 26).
As Ujiri walked away I found myself not too envious of his upcoming decisions ...
Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/i/connect