With the seventh pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, The Denver Nuggets select Mario Hezonja, SG, Barcelona.
Come on guys, you were supposed to make this easy for me. Justise Winslow going to the New York Knicks may have been the pick that threw a wrench into several teams' plans, but hey, that's the NBA Draft for you. These things happen.
For me, making this pick meant deciding whether I was going to select who I thought the Nuggets should pick or who I think the Nuggets will pick. I eventually settled on the latter. As much as I believe the Nuggets would benefit in the long run from potentially elite defenders in Willie Cauley-Stein and Stanley Johnson, Mario Hezonja is the prospect that checks all the boxes that the Nuggets appear to be looking for in a prospect.
- Physical Traits (Size and Athleticism): It's no secret that the Nuggets are lacking size at the shooting guard position. At 6'8", 200 lbs, and with a decent wingspan, Hezonja would instantly add size to a Nuggets backcourt that is, well, fairly diminutive. While Hezonja is not what you would consider a freak athlete, like an Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, he's quick from end to end and finishes above the rim with ease. These traits combined give him a fairly high ceiling on both ends of the floor.
Positional Need: Simply put, the Nuggets do not have a lot of depth in their backcourt, and although I still have a ton of faith in Gary Harris, it could be argued that we currently do not have a long-term starter at shooting guard. You have to imagine this will weigh heavily in Hezonja's favor in the minds of the Nuggets front office.
Attitude: It is believed that the Nuggets are targeting players with an "alpha dog" mentality in this draft, and that could certainly be Hezonja. He has the attitude, confidence, and toughness that could eventually lead to him being the leader of this team, and perhaps the face of the franchise. If the rumors that the Nuggets are looking to move Ty Lawson are true, bringing in a potential future leader could be appealing to the front office and coaching staff.
Shooting Ability: If there's one thing that the Nuggets have been missing for the last half-decade or so, it's a consistent knockdown jump shooter. Hezonja has a high release and smooth stroke that, when combined with his size and quickness, could put him in elite company as a shooter. His athleticism and ball handling ability also allows him to keep defenses from overplaying him on the perimeter, as he's capable of attacking off the dribble as well.
Of course, Hezonja does not come without weaknesses. He saw limited action in overseas play, which raises questions about just how well he'll be able to translate to the NBA game and how much credibility you can attach to the statistics he put up. He was also fairly inconsistent on a game-to-game basis, but the same could also be said for most players his age.
Perhaps his biggest concern has to do with one of his strengths: his attitude. As much as you love a player who gets fired up on the court and wants to take over during those big moments, those also tend to be the type of players whose play really suffers when things aren't going their way. A player as competitive as Mario may be looking to come over to the NBA and compete immediately, but as a team the Nuggets are not at that stage yet. Can Hezonja handle a few losing seasons before the Nuggets reach the playoffs again, especially considering he comes from one of the most successful clubs in Europe?
On one hand, these are the kinds of questions the Nuggets have to ask themselves when considering Mario Hezonja. On the other hand, he possesses most, if not all, of the things that the Denver Nuggets appear to be searching for this offseason. If Hezonja is still available at no. 7, you have to believe the Nuggets will take a long look at him.
*Somewhere Jeff Morton is smiling*
TheMozgovCocktail and the Detroit Pistons are on the clock.
|2015 Mock Draft||Player Taken||Team Pick||Pick Made By|
|2nd||D'Angelo Russell||Lakers||RKY MTN Way|