The furor around Croatian prospect Dario Saric (who recently signed a three year deal with a team in Turkey) raises the specter of draft and "stash" (ie: acquiring the NBA rights to a player who won't immediately play in the NBA, usually playing in Europe). This was done by the Nuggets last season with Joffrey Lauvergne, who has signed a two year deal with Khimki in Russia.
Commonly, "stashing" is done with late 1st round picks, and 2nd round picks who will be on non-guaranteed contracts. This way the monetary risk is lower and the concept buys you time. But what of Lottery picks? How often is "draft and stash" done with Lottery picks?
It's definitely rare, but definitely not unheard of (Ricky Rubio is a good example), to draft a player with the premium of a lottery pick if you know they aren't going to be playing stateside immediately. It will be done with injured players (Nerlens Noel last season) but it is sometimes deemed a risk of a good lottery pick when you can probably achieve the same thing later and with less perceived "waste", You want a lottery pick to contribute immediately ... but if they can't?
This brings us to the specter of Saric, hanging over the NBA. Having just signed a contract that will bind him to Turkey for two seasons (guaranteed) is it worth it for a team in the Lottery (like the Nuggets) to risk picking Saric and trying to sell your fanbase on a player they haven't seen and won't see for a couple years? Don't know. This isn't new territory, and it HAS been done. I frankly don't have a good answer to this question.
For some this brings back flashes of names from the late 90's and early 00's such as Rentzias, Tskitishvilli, and the Nuggets almost-Lottery pick Darko Milicic. If the Nuggets went that direction it would be hard to sell, but I'd say it wouldn't be impossible. If the Nuggets are truly interested in potentially drafting Saric and stashing him with a Lottery pick, the hard sell will have to begin. I don't envy the Nuggets position if they choose to go that direction.
By and large you take the best player available, regardless. If the Nuggets have Saric projected as the number one prospect available at 11 (if they keep the pick) then they probably will take him. What that would mean for the future, and what the Nuggets actual plan would be, remains to be seen.
Many questions will be answered, or begin to be answered on Thursday night. What directions will the Nuggets take?
Remember to JOIN US for our first-ever NBA Draft Watch Party at 5pm tomorrow at Jake's Food & Spirits. Fellow Stiffs and Nuggets fans will be present as we see what the Nuggets decide to do with the 11th overall pick!