Newark, NJ, Evan Fournier walks to the stage after being introduced as the 20th overall pick to the Denver Nuggets.
Evan Fournier. Masai Ujiri kept Nuggets fans guessing once again. The French Kid came to Denver for a workout and told the local media that he mirrored his game after Manu Ginobili, was asked about Tony Parker, and was on his way. As the draft drew near, Fournier's name kept appearing towards the end of the first-round. With scorers making up much of the lottery and big men being selected in bunches after that, it seemed destined that the Nuggets would select a big man to compete with Kenneth Faried. But why? Faried got some recognition as the Rookie of the Year.
A team without a lot of roster spots, the Nuggets selected Fournier and will likely keep him in France for a season or two. But who is this 19 year-old kid? ...
Fournier was just a rookie in the French league two seasons ago, for the Poitiers. He averaged just 6.4 points in 14.4 minutes. Last season, as a second year guy, his minutes and role increased. He averaged 14 points in 26 minutes per night.
Watching highlights of Fournier, and hearing him talk about being like Manu, you can see he likes to draw contact, is comfortable shooting off-balance to finish a play, and has nice form on his jumper. One knock on him is that he doesn't have good range, as evidenced by his 27% shooting from deep last season. But at just 19 years-old, he can easily improve not only his jumper, but his overall game.
Standing 6'7'', he possess a pretty good NBA body already. He's not skinny like Rudy Fernandez and he hit 63% of his two-point shots around the rim, according to Synergy Sports Technology (55% overall). A slasher and hopefully a shooter of the future for the Nuggets.
When he was at the Pepsi Center, he was excited to talk to the media despite a bit of a language barrier. Nuggets fans might be hesitant to embrace this pick as Denver hasn't had a lot of luck with European picks. Does the 1996 draft make you cringe? It should ... the Nuggets took Efthimios Rentzias, a Greek, with the 23rd pick and he never played for the Nuggets. In 2002 the Nuggets infamously selected Nikoloz Tskitishvili with the 5th overall pick and he was traded away just three years later in 2005. How about Axel Hervelle or Sergio Llull? Picks 52 and 34 respectively in 2005 and 2009 ... neither would play for the Nuggets.
But Masai Ujiri also comes from a very good international scouting background and the Nuggets did their homework on Fournier, you can be sure of that. Afterall, he actually worked out for the team ... unlike Skita. With 15 players on the roster for now, this could be a sneaky good pick as Denver could bring Fournier over after a little more seasoning in France.
Missing out on Nicholson, Sullinger, Teague, and Jones
I predicted the Nuggets would select Andrew Nicholson out of St. Bonaventure, but alas the Orlando Magic took him with pick No. 19 and Denver never had a shot to draft him (or pass on him?). Jared Sullinger, Marquis Teague, and Perry Jones III were all on the board when the Nuggets drafted, they will forever be watched by Nuggets fans. People will be able to say, "Glad we didn't take ____" or "Man, we should have drafted _______." Hopes were raised leading up to the draft when rumors swirled around Bradley Beal and the No. 7 pick. Selecting a guy who will likely be sent overseas kills a lot of the excitement of the draft, but Nuggets fans should still hold out some hope for The French Hope.
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