A big thanks to Denver Post's Sports Digital News Editor Nicki Jhabvala for putting together a Nuggets draft roundtable featuring: Christopher "Don't call me Chris" Dempsey, Ben Golliver from Sports Illustrated's The Point Forward, yours truly, Kalen Deremo from Roundball Mining Company, and Jordan White from Hardwood Paroxysm.
We went over a ton of possibilities for the Nuggets in the upcoming June 26th NBA draft, here's a snippet.
If you were the GM, who would you pick?
DEMPSEY: If it were up to me, I'd seriously explore trading the pick to get a veteran player that fills the need. This is a draft full of a lot of talented players, no doubt, but the Nuggets don't view themselves as a young team needing to acquire talent to get better. They see themselves as a playoff team needing to find a way to advance in the postseason. A veteran player can help the most in that respect, and I expect there to be a lot of movement prior to this draft with teams moving up, down and out of the lottery. So the chances will be there to get a deal done.
GOLLIVER: The late lottery is always tricky, and there's a decent chance that all of this class's biggest names will be gone by the time Denver is on the clock. Kentucky's James Young should be available and he would be tempting. Between Foye and (the injured) Nate Robinson, Denver has the smaller scoring guard niche fully covered. Young would offer a bigger, longer, more athletic alternative who could be used alongside or behind Gallinari. Young has plenty of upside, but, at only 18 years old, he proved he was able to be an impact player in the NCAA tournament.
TIMMONS: Denver isn't locked into anyone on the current roster, so taking the guy with the highest ceiling would be my preference. A few guys who have caught my attention: Aaron Gordon out of Arizona: He's a tremendous athlete, versatile player, good defender and he has good fundamentals. He'll likely be off the board by the time the Nuggets pick, but he might slip to Denver. Gary Harris out of Michigan State: He's a good shooter and defender, and can attack the rim. Tyler Ennis out of Syracuse: He's a pure point guard who isn't afraid of taking big-time shots and can really run an offense. And Zach LaVine out of UCLA: a big-time athlete with raw skills but good shooting.
DEREMO: There are about eight to nine players in this draft who will be studs at the next level, guys who have the potential to vie for All-Star spots almost every year: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart. After that there are a handful of guys who have the potential to become starters and also challenge for an All-Star spot here or there: Gary Harris, Dario Saric, Nik Stauskas, James Young, Tyler Ennis, Elfrid Payton and Shabazz Napier.
If one of the "elite eight" happens to slip to the Nuggets - Gordon and Smart appear to be the most likely - then Denver has to capitalize. But the more probable scenario is that those players will be gone when the Nuggets select, leaving shooting guards Harris, Stauskas or Young as the top choices. Harris is my favorite, a two-way player who really gets after it on defense (which the Nuggets desperately need), while Stauskas might be the best shooter to go pro since Klay Thompson in 2011 (who also was selected 11th overall). Young is my sleeper choice; he was often the second best player on a Kentucky that made it to the National Championship in March. But another name to watch out for is LaVine. He tore up the NBA draft combine in Chicago this past week and has steadily risen on draft boards.
WHITE: I'd take Gary Harris from Michigan State. He's slightly undersized at just 6-foot-4, but his 6-6 wingspan somewhat compensates for that. He shot 35 percent from deep in college, and the Nuggets could certainly use more outside shooting. What gives Harris the edge over the likes of the similarly skilled Nik Stauskas is his defense. The Nuggets have a porous perimeter defense, something Harris' great defensive instincts and strong frame could help correct immediately.