I raised an eyebrow when Nik Stauskas was taken at pick number 8 by the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night. Oh my, I thought, that means Doug McDermott may fall to the 11th pick.
As the Nuggets approached their slot, Nate Timmons leaned over to me in the press lounge and asked if McDermott was the call here. I replied that the Nuggets would have to pick him if they want the best player available. Even though Nate, Les Shapiro and myself occupied the Zach LaVine fan section of the press area ... I kind of knew McDermott would be it.
When Adam Silver announced that it was McDermott (alright ... I already knew because of Adrian Wojnariowski) I was thinking about immediacy. You know? How would this affect the Nuggets starting lineup and how would they get McDermott minutes at a stacked position. Not more than a minute after the pick was announced, did we hear that the Nuggets would trade McDermott and (as we found out later) Anthony Randolph to the Chicago Bulls for the 16th and 19th picks in the draft.
As Nate Timmons recapped, the Nuggets took Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. I won't go over my thoughts about the individual picks because Nate covered my thoughts about them in his recap. I will, however talk about this draft in concept ... and the rather interesting reaction I saw to this draft coming from Nuggets fans on Thursday night.
Are the casual fans of Denver so scarred by European prospects in the Draft (Nicoloz Tskitishvilli, Efthimios Rentzias) that they refuse to give a chance to the prospect (Nurkic) that they drafted? Or is this simply a matter of having hopes and dreams hitched to the wagon of McDermott? Or do people want immediate gratification from their draft picks and are cynical about "potential"?
I am a self-professed draft cynic. My own scars come from many years as a Nuggets fan and watching horrible draft after horrible draft. The Nuggets draft history has to be among the worst in the NBA. It's created in me a prove it to me before I buy in to you mentality. Upside is a nebulous concept that requires alot more guesswork than actual knowledge. More of an art than a science. Betting on futures.
However, you need value. Value for your picks and value for your prospects. The job of "selling" said prospects to the public belongs to the GM and organization alone. Yet, sometimes it's up to the fan to acknowledge that turning one late-lottery pick into two highly valued (at least by analytics people) players who can help your foundation is pretty much a better situation than getting duplicate talent at a lottery cost. Yes, it's a gamble ... but welcome to 90% of the draft. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the development of Nurkic. That is a change for me as a long time Nuggets fan. A big change.
Harris turned out to be one of the steals of the draft. No one, including the Nuggets, thought that he would drop all the way to 19. This is a player many projected the NUGGETS to take at 11. Sometimes things just fall into your lap, and the Nuggets took the opportunity. Value for said 19th pick? Through the roof.
I hope, in my heart of hearts, the reaction to the Nuggets draft wasn't an anti-European concept. That is a very ugly side of fandom and really ... with such an international sport, European and foreign scouting should very much be embraced. The Nuggets have shown that they are going head-first world scouting. Their European scouting department is top notch, lead by Arturos Karnisovas and head European Scout Rafal Juc. One of the best in the NBA. Gone are the days when Kiki Vandeweghe and Bernie Bickerstaff can draft players who they haven't even seen in person.
It's very much a safer place. I've spoken extensively to head scout Juc and have found him to be both extremely smart and, quite frankly, he has an eye for talent that even local scouts dont possess. Trust, it's very much the key and I trust the men making these decisions.
I suppose that's a lot to swallow for the fan. They have no reason to trust, and like this Nuggets fan of the last 25 years, they need to have it proven to them. I respect that. Let's just leave the anti-European sentiment out of it. There's no place for that in this worldwide sport, and, quite frankly it's a thought process that will leave you out in the cold as the NBA progresses into the future. I don't know if these picks will turn out, but it's going to be very interesting to see the results.
Below is a video that I took on Thursday night. It's just some highlights of Draft Night in the Press Lounge at the Pepsi Center. I originally had this much longer, and without music. Yet, the audio was sub par and would have made a bad video. So here is a clip show of our moments from last night with us media stiffs a Pepsi Center. Kind of gives you a behind the scenes look at the life of a working media member.