NBA draft day will be upon us tomorrow. In anticipation of that, I exchanged emails with Denver Stiffs reader Agaliarept to go over some various scenarios on what he would want to see the Nuggets do in the draft. Check it out:
Nate Timmons: Alright, we've been talking about the drafts in the comment sections for what feels like years now. It's obvious to say that this is where the talent comes from to re-stock the league, but I've never understood why some people (Jeff Morton!, others) are just lukewarm on the draft. I've always been a fan of the draft because I used to watch a lot of college hoops and someway or another found myself rooting for and hoping for guys like Nick Van Exel, Lawrence Moten, Kerry Kittles, John Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Charlie Ward, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, and Tim Duncan to wind up with the Nuggets. I loved watching those guys in college (Ward more-so for football).
Nowadays I find myself catching less college hoops, but my draft interest is probably at an all-time high each and every season. What do you like about this time of year?
Agaliarept: Haha, I hate to harp on Jeff's feelings about the draft, but I definitely agree with you when it comes to being excited about this part of the off-season. I mean if you think about it, the vast majority of players that we watch day-in-and-day-out in the NBA today have come through the draft, both college and international players alike. We truly are witnessing the future of the league every year in June, and that makes it so easy to get excited about this prospect or that prospect as being someone who could make an impact on the team, whether right away or in the long-run. I also have to admit that I'm glad for the draft because otherwise I doubt I would be as interested in the college game as I am (although CU's success is looking to be another reason!).
Timmons: Not to get off-topic, but we could easily be talking about CU's Spencer Dinwiddie and where he'll go in the NBA lottery next season.
What do you hope the Nuggets do with the No. 27 pick? Let's start off with this scenario: they keep the pick. Give me three guys that you want the team to take and one or two sentences on why they'd be a good fit?
Agaliarept: Well, I will say that I certainly hope we keep the pick. But to answer your question ... I like a lot of guys in the range where we're picking, so limiting it to three will be tough.
PG: You would think that we'd have this position locked up with Ty Lawson and Andre Miller under contract and Julyan Stone as a restricted free agent. However, a lot of Stiffs aren't extremely happy with Miller going into next season and Stone is far from a sure thing.
With that being said, I like Nate Wolters, Senior out of South Dakota State. Erick Green is another option here, but I like Wolters size and statistically he's the slightly more efficient shooter. Additionally, reports of his high basketball IQ lend itself well to learning the game behind Ty and Andre.
Wing Shooter/Scorer: Not a true position, but I think most Stiffs would agree that we could use a legitimate shooter. DraftExpress' latest mock draft has Allen Crabbe from California available at 27, and he would be a great choice. He excels at coming off screens and catch-and shoot jumpers, perfect considering how many ball-handlers this team already has.
C: With Timofey Mozgov potentially gone in free agency, we could use a third big man to groom behind JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos, who have the center position on lock for the short-term. Two names here are Jeff Withey out of Kansas and Mike Muscala out of Bucknell. Withey is perhaps the more NBA-ready of the two, and has a lot of potential defensively, which we struggle with at times. Muscala has the better range and more refined offensive talent. Either player would be good value at 27.
Timmons: It's so tough to pinpoint where the Nuggets need anyone because they have so much depth. I do agree with you that a point guard should be a serious consideration. Miller has no future with the team beyond his current contract (two year remaining, one year guaranteed) and Stone may not return. The Nuggets must decide on Stone and if they can bring him back for a reasonable deal. He made $762K last year and the No. 27 pick is slated to make $899K next season. If Stone comes back around that figure, keep him and don't take a point. He knows his teammates and keeping that chemistry with a new system would be fine.
I do quite like Muscala's offensive game and he could grow into a player with some nice scoring touch. I do worry about his defense at the NBA level and Withey is the opposite - good defender and little offensive game.
I lean with a different guy it seems like on a daily basis. Today I'm growing more fond of Crabbe's game and his size (very Iguodala like). He did not workout for the Nuggets and we can think it'd break tradition, but since there's a new GM in town - we shouldn't look too much into it.
What do you think about these three guys: Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Rice Jr., and Ricky Ledo?
Agaliarept: I think with Hardaway Jr., Rice Jr., and Ledo you chose three players who are potentially going to be compared to one another as they're relatively similar prospects. Each are 6'6" guard/forwards who are primarily scorers and have late 1st-round to early 2nd-round projections. In terms of the Nuggets, however, I'm not sure they're the greatest fits. I wouldn't mind grabbing any of the three with the 27th pick, as they would be great value there, but none of them are great shooters, and not especially prolific three-point shooters. That being said, all three have that "boom or bust" quality about them, as they could be one of the next top wing scorers in the league or just another college scorer who struggles in the NBA. I think you can certainly see where the upside is in that.
Timmons: We've heard the rumors that Denver might trade back in this draft or trade out of it all together. With what you just said about Hardaway, Rice, and Ledo - the Nuggets could easily trade back to say, No. 35 and get a very similar prospect on a cheaper deal and a non-guaranteed deal past the first season. I highly doubt that Denver is going to get a first-round pick for the 2014 draft, unless it's heavily protected, so would you rather see the Nuggets get a second-round pick this year or next year if they trade No. 27?
Agaliarept: Well, I definitely think you're right in that Denver probably won't get a 2014 first-rounder in return for this year's 27th. I also agree that you could likely find similar value in the early 30s as you can at 27. However, I'm not sure it's really worth it. Denver may be over the cap going into next season, but even if Andre Iguodala ends up being re-signed, they would still likely have some room under the luxury tax. Like you said above, the 27th pick is only slated to make $899K next season, which is pocket change really. And although 2nd-round contracts are non-guaranteed after the first season, 1st-round picks have two-year team options after the initial two years, so it isn't cap crippling by any means. Is the difference worth moving back five to 10 spots?
But to answer your question, I think you take this year's second-rounder if you can. There really isn't too much of a difference in value between years, but they still have a couple of needs they could attempt to fill and it might be a good idea to grab another young player that Coach Shaw and Co. can work with in his first year in Denver.
Timmons: I totally agree with you that moving back doesn't have the monetary savings that should really matter. If your guy is there at No. 27, take him.
Let's wrap this up. Will you be rooting for the Nuggets to take a certain guy? If you're Tim Connelly who do you take?
Last one: Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, or somebody else should go No. 1?
Agaliarept: There are several prospects that I wouldn't mind seeing us select, so it's difficult to pick just one. DraftExpress has Allen Crabbe falling to us and if that happened I'd be ecstatic. Honestly though, I can't see him falling that far so my choice is Ricky Ledo. I tend to love boom-or-bust guys and at 27 you generally don't expect much, so why not take a risk? Best case you get a guy who fulfills the enormous amount of potential that everyone says he has and worst case you swung and missed on a pick that didn't have high expectations anyway. Besides, we're relatively safe with the talent we already have on the roster, so there's no immediate need to hit now.
In terms of the No. 1 overall pick, I'm on the Nerlens Noel train. He may be one of the weaker No. 1 overalls in recent memory, but he's still a better prospect than any of the other available choices. His athleticism and shot-blocking ability makes opposing players extremely hesitant to drive into the lane against him and that is the kind of impact that can truly change a game. Not to mention that he would fit in well with returning coach Mike Brown's defensive mentality. Trading the pick away for future assets is another good option, but barring that I believe that actually selecting anyone but Noel would be a mistake.
Timmons: As much as I like the boom-or-bust potential of Ledo, the shooting prospects of Crabbe, Bullock, or Hardaway Jr., and the potential of big men like Withey, Muscala, and Gorgui Dieng - I can't escape how good I think Green could be. Yes, he's 22 years-old, but I think with better teammates around him, his scoring ability, his passing ability, and his ability to draw fouls would fit perfectly with the Nuggets. He's 6'3" in shoes and weighs just 180 pounds. He needs to add strength, but he thrives with his speed getting out in the open court. He can catch-and-shoot, and create on his own.
Consider, Green scored less than 20 points in just four of his 32 games. That's incredible. He averaged 25 points per game and 3.8 assists (which might be a bad indicator of his passing since his teammates were sub-par). Against five ranked opponents (Oklahoma State, Miami twice, Duke twice) and Colorado State he averaged 24.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 points.
Green drew an incredible 8.3 foul shots per game (81-percent). Trey Burke, perhaps the highest rated point guard in the draft drew only 4.3 foul shots per game (80-percent) in comparison. Yes, Green was the offense for Virginia Tech and he shot 47-percent from the floor (46-percent for Burke) and 38.9-percent from three point land - while taking 4.9 threes per game (Burke 38.4-percent and 5.1 attempts). Green is also just a year older than Burke.
I'm not saying Green will be a better pro, but did Burke have better teammates at Michigan? How are we supposed to really tell the difference between who is the better player? I love the potential of Green and would be ecstatic if the Nuggets grabbed him.
The last couple of picks that I remember being excited about the Nuggets taking? Jalen Rose in 1994 (13th overall), Carmelo Anthony in 2003 (3rd overall), Ty Lawson in 2009 (18th overall), and Kenneth Faried in 2011 (22nd overall). So, it doesn't happen too often that Denver takes the guy I want them too.
I can't wait to see how things unfold tomorrow down at the Pepsi Center with my colleagues Jeff Morton and Andrew Feinstein.
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