With the NBA Draft looming on June 27th, the Nuggets' plans for the 27th pick remain a mystery. This is nothing new. Under Kiki Vandeweghe we saw the Nuggets trade away first round picks and it was the same story with the Mark Warkentien regime. Masai Ujiri used both of the first round picks he was able to (remember he didn't come to Denver until August of 2010 - after the draft and the Nuggets owed their 2010 pick to the Memphis).
Perhaps the Nuggets' most famous pick was made in 2003 when the team took Carmelo Anthony. But what have the Nuggets done with their first round picks since that time?
Kiki Vandeweghe's drafts, 2004-06:
2004, 20th pick: The Nuggets selected Jameer Nelson, but not even Dick Vitale's fondness for the Saint Joseph's star could keep the hype going for long. Moments after the pick was made, it was announced that the Orlando Magic had acquired the rights for Nelson - for a future first round pick.
2005, 20th & 22nd picks: The Nuggets received the 20th overall pick from the Orlando Magic (from the Nelson trade the season before) and selected Julius Hodge - a Kiki special as a shooting guard who could not shoot. Hodge would only appear in 18 games for the Nuggets over the course of two seasons before moving on to the New Jersey Nets for a year and then he was out of the NBA. He has spent time playing in Italy, Australia, Belarus, Iran, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, and most recently - at 29 years old - in France for Paris-Levallois Basket for the 2012-13 season.
2006, no first-round pick: Kiki left the team in May of 2006, before the draft (contract not renewed), but is on the hook for why the Nuggets didn't get to keep the 20th pick. Denver owed the pick to the New Jersey Nets, who traded the pick to the New York Knicks - who selected Renaldo Balkman. One could argue that Denver wound up getting the best years of Balkman's career as The CrimeStopper spent three seasons with the Nuggets and put up a career best 5.0 points during the 2008-09 season.
Mark Warkentien's drafts, 2007-10:
2007, no pick. In December of 2006 the Nuggets pulled off a whopper of a deal when they acquired Allen Iverson from the Philadelphia 76ers. Their 21st overall pick in 2007 and their 30th pick that Denver acquired in a deal with the Dallas Mavericks went to the 76ers as part of the Iverson deal (along with Andre Miller and Joe Smith). Philadelphia selected Daequan Cook with the 21st pick and Petteri Koponen with the 30th pick.
Who is Koponen? He's now a 25 year-old shooting guard, born in Finland, who plays for the Russian team BC Khimki. He has yet to appear in the NBA.
Sit back for a moment and realize how much of a rotten deal the 76ers got for Iverson. Sure, Miller was a quality point guard at the time, but he wasn't on Iverson's level. Smith was washed up and the draft picks were not going to be lottery picks as the Mavs finished 67-15 in the 2006-07 season and 60-22 the year before. The Nuggets were also a playoff team. So, the Sixers got back a decent point guard for their superstar. Now you know why the Melo deal has been applauded so much (and the Nuggets have yet to swap picks with the Knicks in 2014 and 2016 for future considerations from that Melo deal).
2008, no pick. The Nuggets traded this pick away to the Charlotte Bobcats for a future first-round pick - that was once believed to be a very valuable commodity. The Bobcats used Denver's 20th pick to take Alexis Ajinca. We'll get to that "valuable" Bobcats pick in 2009.
2009, no pick, but traded "in" for a pick. The Nuggets pick wound up being the 26th pick in this draft. The Chicago Bulls made the pick and took Taj Gibson. The Bulls received the pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Thabo Sefolosha. The Thunder got the pick from the Nuggets, along with Chucky Atkins and cash considerations, in exchange for a second-round pick and Johan Petro.
The second-round pick was the 34th of the 2009 draft and the Nuggets selected Sergio Llull. And sold his draft rights to the Houston Rockets (passing in DeJuan Blair) and used that money, in part, to re-sign Chris Andersen to a five-year, $25 million deal.
The Nuggets also wound up trading into this draft by giving up that "valuable" Bobcats future first-round pick they acquired in 2008. They traded that future pick for the draft rights to the 18th pick, Ty Lawson, by way of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
2010, no pick. The Nuggets pick in the 2010 draft was the 25th overall. The pick was made by the Memphis Grizzlies, who took Dominique Jones. His draft rights were then sold to the Dallas Mavericks. The Grizzlies got the pick when the Nuggets sent them the oft-injured Steven Hunter, along with the pick and cash considerations.
The Nuggets also had ties to the 16th pick as that was the "valuable" Bobcats pick the team acquired back in 2008 and then traded in 2009 for Ty Lawson. The Timberwolves selected Luke Babbitt, but then traded him and Ryan Gomes to the Portland Trail Blazers for Martell Webster.
The 2010 draft happened in June and on August 3rd the Nuggets announced that Warkentien and Rex Chapman would not be back with the club. Masai Ujiri was hired on Aug. 28th to succeed Wark and Chapman (a fun read by Woody Paige on Ujiri).
Masai Ujiri drafts, 2011-12:
2011, 22nd pick: The Nuggets used their pick to select Kenneth Faried. Simple enough, finally!
The Nuggets also wound up obtaining the 26th pick, Jordan Hamilton, from the Mavericks in a three-team deal and Andre Miller from the Blazers. The Mavs received Rudy Fernandez and the rights to Petteri Koponen (remember him from 2007? He was in a roundabout way the Mavs 30th pick that year, go back up and look). The Blazers received Ray Felton from the Nuggets and the 57th pick, Tanguy Ngombo, from the Mavs.
2012, 20th pick: The Nuggets selected Evan Fournier out of France. A surprising pick as George Karl later revealed that Denver had interest in St. Bonaventure power forward Andrew Nicholson (Canadian!) and a couple well-known college names went after Fournier in Jared Sullinger, 21st, and Perry Jones, 28th.
Here is what I had to say about Fournier on draft 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. -Full article here.
What will the Nuggets do Thursday night? Well, GM Tim Connelly is preparing for it all, according to Aaron Lopez of Nuggets.com:
"Over the next 24 hours, the phone calls will become more and more regular," Nuggets general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said Wednesday. "We have a couple options right now. We want to go into tomorrow night with options A, B and C, so whatever happens in a fluid environment, we're not caught unprepared."
With a roster that includes 20-year-olds Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller, 22-year-old Jordan Hamilton and 23-year-olds Faried and Anthony Randolph, the Nuggets are not in the market for another young prospect.
"We're in a unique situation because I look at some of our guys and they're as young as some of these guys in the draft - younger in some cases," Connelly said. "That's why I'm open to any and all possibilities at 27. I look at our roster and I see a couple guys who, if they were in this draft, would be way, way higher than 27."
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