The Denver Nuggets own the 27th pick in the upcoming, June 27th, NBA draft. Yes, that's a long way away - especially when you consider that Fast and Furious 6 will be out before the draft (May 24th! Who's coming with me?!). The Nuggets do not currently own a second-round pick as their pick belongs to the Phoenix Suns via the Los Angeles Lakers (I believe from the Chu Chu Maduabum trade of 2011).
So, what will the Nuggets do with their pick? We'll look at some early mock drafts (remember the Nuggets have yet to even work anybody out) and discuss areas of need for the Nuggets.
Some things to consider heading into the 2013 draft:
-The Nuggets have up to five players that could be gone next season in Corey Brewer (unrestricted free agent), Timofey Mozgov and Julyan Stone (potential restricted free agents), Quincy Miller (team option), and Andre Iguodala (could become an unrestricted free agent if he opts out of the last year of his deal, which is a $16.1M player option).
-The Nuggets could trade up into the draft to acquire a player they like. Perhaps a more rounded big man? Here is a look at the top big men in the draft by Sean Sullivan from Bright Side of the Sun.
-The Nuggets could trade down or out of the first round to get some second-round talent that they could perhaps try to store overseas or in the D-League.
-The Nuggets could trade out of the draft all together - something Masai Ujiri has yet to do in his time in Denver.
Areas of need for the Nuggets?
Well, this is the tough question. Let's tackle it position-by-position:
Point Guard: The Nuggets could always use a young point guard to compete with Andre Miller and Stone. Or the Nuggets could let Stone walk and focus on drafting a third point guard to challenge Miller and maybe Lawson, down the line.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward: With Iguodala's situation up in the air and Danilo Gallinari recovering from knee surgery, the Nuggets might have a need here. Fournier has shown promise and Hamilton has been waiting for an opportunity, but you can never have enough shooting or solid defenders ... especially young prospects. The Nuggets' ability to spot a guy like Fournier late shows there could be promise for more quality in the draft.
Power Forward: A position I thought the Nuggets might address in the draft last season. When the Magic took Andrew Nicholson with the No. 19 pick, I thought they stole Denver's pick - George Karl mentioned during the season that Denver would have taken Nicholson had he been there at No. 20. Might the Nuggets look to draft a well-rounded big man? Not a bad thought, but with Kenneth Faried and Anthony Randolph competing for minutes, it'd be an uphill battle for any rookie.
Center: Perhaps the Nuggets' deepest position. I would be surprised if Denver took a true center in the draft, but with Mozgov's situation up in the air, the Nuggets could look for depth here too.
Mock Drafts - the 27th pick:
Both Draft Express.com and ESPN's Chad Ford (hat tip to Tyler Lashbrook from Nugg Love) have the Nuggets selecting shooting guard Allen Crabbe, 21 years old, out of California with the pick. He's a 6'6", 205 pound kid with long arms who will be forgoing his senior season to enter the NBA.
Reminds Nate of: Andre Iguodala. From his long arms to his jump shot, he looks a bit like Iguodala out there. Obviously he has a long way to go once he gets into the NBA, but I'm just saying he sort of gives off that kind of impression in his playing style.
Rated as Draft Express' 27th player in their Top 100. From Draft Express:
Crabbe's primary asset on the offensive end is his shooting stroke, where he has excellent form, elevation, and touch, with range beyond the NBA three point line. Crabbe is very good as a catch and shoot threat, something which he should be able to translate to the next level immediately. Overall, Crabbe shot 44.1% on catch and shoot opportunities according to Synergy Sports Technology, which in and of itself is already a very good mark. However, due to Crabbe's role as the focal point of the Golden Bears offense, a disproportionately high percentage of these came with a hand in his face.
From NBA Draft.net: They have the Nuggets selecting DeShaun Thomas, 21 years old, the small forward/power forward out of Ohio State. He's a 6'7", 225 pound lefty. I was trying to remember the last time Denver had a left and it hit me ... Anthony Randolph.
Reminds Nate of: Nobody really. A nice outside shot and a very raw post game. Looks like he depends quite a bit on shooting in rhythm from the perimeter.
Draft Express rates him as the 47th best prospect in their Top 100:
Thomas has done most of his damage with his jump shot this season, but remains a productive finisher and one-on-one threat in the post. Accounting for 25% of Ohio State's total possessions, up from 18% last year, Thomas has fared well in a large roler that has tested his skill set, although his efficiency has dipped and his strengths and weaknesses as a prospect remain largely unchanged.
Nate's choice: Shane Larkin, 20 years-old, point guard
A guy I wouldn't mind seeing the Nuggets select if he's there: Shane Larkin out of Miami (The U!). He's a 5'11" and 162 pound scoring point guard. He's also the son of former Major League Baseball player Barry Larkin - it has been working out well considering history of players with dads that were former pros. Consider that Lawson is 5'11" and 195 pounds - Larkin is a little light, but could easily add a few pounds with Steve Hess training him.
Reminds Nate of: Mark Price. He will use his quickness, but he's not tricky about it. Just a burst and go guy with a nice jumper that leaps into his shot. Will look to distribute off a shot fake and is accustomed to being a leader.
Larkin rates out as Draft Express' 26th best prospect in their Top 100:
People's choice: Erick Green, 22 years old, point guard
I've received a few emails and a tweets from people asking me to check out Green's game and hoping that the Nuggets will draft him. He was a senior and is coming out of Virginia Tech. He's a nice sized point guard at 6'3" and 185 pounds.
Reminds Nate of: Russell Westbrook. He's not the explosive finisher that Westbrook is, but he gets the ball and just goes in a B-Line to the rim. He has a pretty nice stroke on his shot, which already looks better than a guy like Westbrook. He could come in and challenge for minutes right away. Again, this isn't to say he'll be Westbrook - a guy many Nuggets fans do not like - but just his impressions on the court reminded me of the OKC guard.
Draft Express rates him as the 30th prospect in their Top 100:
Last time we checked in our Erick Greena little under a year ago, he was coming off a strong junior season that saw him pick up where Malcolm Delaney left off as Virginia Tech's leading scorer. Despite the departure of Head Coach Seth Greenberg and the Hokies' struggles in ACC play (3-12 thus far, last place), Green has been among the most improved players in the country and ranks as the nation's top scorer by a significant margin.
Standing 6'3 with a thin, wiry frame and near 6'7 wingspan, Green is a natural scorer who can put points on the board in bunches with his pull-up jump shot and ability to get to the free throw line, but has also shown improvement as a distributor this season, particularly in the pick and roll. Fitting the mold of a modern, up-tempo, scoring point guard, the senior's skills have been tested on a nightly basis this season as his team's first option, primary ball-handler, and end-all, be-all solution on the offensive end.
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