The Nuggets will be bringing in Murray State's Cameron Payne and Sevilla's Nikola Radicevic, according to Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post and David Pick of Bleacher report, respectively. And those names have been confirmed with an offical release from the Denver Nuggets. Included in the workout will be Kentucky Big man Trey Lyles.
NBA workout dates for Serbian PG Nikola Radicevic. June 11 Wizards, 13 Thunder and 15 Nuggets, said agent.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 10, 2015
#Nuggets expected to get a workout w/ Murray State PG Cameron Payne on Monday. Payne's stock on many draft boards is rising fast.— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) June 11, 2015
If you are not familiar with Payne (20 years old, same 8/8 birthday as Danilo Gallinari), he's 6'2" and 185 pounds. He's a crafty point guard with range, played in a lot of pick-and-roll at Murray State, and has a very nice floater game.
Payne biggest appeal as a NBA prospect is the terrific blend he displays between scoring and passing. He shouldered a huge amount of offense for Murray State (32% Usage, second highest in the DX Top-100), but still managed to remain relatively efficient (57% TS%) and dished out passes at a terrific rate (39.5% assist percentage, #1 in DX Top-100, 7.1 assists per-40, #4 DX-100).
He's an extremely unselfish player who passes with great creativity and loves to move the ball ahead in transition, either utilizing his excellent ball-handling skills or by finding the open man running the floor.
Payne was a mid-first round pick, prior to the NBA Combine, but around May 29th - rumors started that perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder had made a draft promise to him with the no. 14 pick. Since that time he has worked out for teams like the Lakers (no. 2 pick), Kings (no. 6 pick), and more. Teams at the top of the draft could be looking at scenarios in which they trade back, or try to trade for an additional pick to be in a position to select the slick lefty.
The other prospect that has been rumored for a workout is Serbian point Nikola Radicevic. He's been ranked at the 77th best prospect out of 100 from Draft Express. Radicevic and Nuggets prospect Nikola Jokic both call Serbia home and Radicevic has been playing professionally with CB Sevilla (of Spain) and teammate Kristaps Porzingis.
Radicevic is a 21 year-old point guard (another lefty!), who will turn 22 year-old in April. He's a big body at 6'5" and 200 pounds. Here are some of his highlights from earlier this season:
Standing 6'5, possibly taller, Radicevic's size for a point guard has always been a key part of his value proposition in the European game and is also significant to his NBA potential. Able to see over the defense, Radicevic can make passes small guards simply can't. Only an average athlete by NBA standards, Radicevic has some quickness, but isn't a great leaper and appears more fluid than explosive making plays with the ball in his hands. His lack of athleticism is somewhat of a concern projecting him to the NBA style of play, but his size does help.
What makes Radicevic intriguing is his playmaking ability. Though he's averaged only 3.1 assists per-game this season, the young guard showed solid vision and a good feel for making plays on the pick and roll when he was on the floor. Considering Sevilla relied more heavily on the pick and roll than any other team in the ACB and that 469 of the 786 possessions Radicevic used or created this season came on the pick and roll, his ability to make plays in the two-man game found a prominent place in the team's offense. Bringing the ball up the floor, controlling tempo, and showing a knack for creating openings and delivering the ball in drive and kick situations as well as making the simple play, Radicevic's passing is one of his best virtues.
More steady than dynamic as a ball handler, the lefty can get a bit wild at times and will dribble into trouble, especially in transition, but a noticeable portion of his turnovers also come on deft passes that either just barely miss their target or simply aren't corralled by his teammates. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.75 is good, but not great, and his 1.41 pure point ratio is indicative of his struggles at times with turnovers.
As a scorer, Radicevic is still a work in progress. He does a nice job finding lanes to get to the rim in the pick and roll, and has a little shake to his game, but has struggled to finish this season converting only 52% of his attempts inside, as he lacks a degree of explosiveness and is more effective with his left hand than his right. He's been fairly consistent scoring with his floater, which he's converted at a solid 56% rate on limited attempts. At the junior level, Radicevic was most effective scoring as a slasher and he shot 57% around the rim last season, so it will be interesting to see if he can recapture his efficiency around the rim once he is better acclimated to playing significant minutes at the ACB level.
With where Radicevic ranks, the Nuggets could look at him as a draft-and-stash guy with the 57th pick in the second round. With the Nuggets, likely, adding the 7th pick and Nikola Jokic to the team next season, roster spots will start to be a concern. Tim Connelly and Company also may not want to overload the roster with young guys that still are trying to find their way in the League. It is also worth noting that both these guys play point guard, and the Nuggets have already brought in another first-round talent in Notre Dame's Jerian Grant.
With news that Jameer Nelson could be on his way to opting out of the final year of his deal, coupled with Ty Lawson's cloudy future in Denver, and you start to see that Denver may need to add a point guard or two to the roster to go along with Erick Green (who will battle for a roster spot this season on a non-guaranteed deal).
Trey Lyles is an interesting prospect, too, and rated as the 15th best prospect, according to Draft Express. The 19 year-old (20 in Nov.) power forward goes 6'10" and 240 pounds. He averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Wildcats in his lone collegiate season. Here is a tidbit from Draft Express:
Lyles has excellent size and length for a power forward, measuring 6-10 in shoes, with a strong 235 pound frame, and a huge 7-3 ½ wingspan. He is a fluid and mobile big man, but not overly quick or explosive, lacking a degree of athleticism that may limit his long-term upside to a certain extent. He's done a good job of working on his body over the past 18 months, as he has struggled in the past with his conditioning level, but has worked hard to maximize his physical tools after looking somewhat out of shape in the past.
Lyles has a very nice skill-level for a player his size. Showing advanced footwork and very soft touch, he's strong enough to make some plays with his back to the basket, something that wasn't a featured part of his game at Kentucky, but he's nevertheless capable of. He finished 50% of his field goal attempts in the post according to Synergy Sports Technology, and drew a free throw on 25% of his possessions on top of that.
He also shows nice potential as a ball-handler on the perimeter, being capable of attacking his man off the dribble smoothly driving in either direction, mixing in crafty spin-moves with strong body control and choppy footwork, and often finishing with a floater or using the glass with his soft touch. While he's not overly quick, his strong frame and solid timing and patience helps, and as he goes back to playing at the 4/5 spots like he did earlier in his career, he'll have even more of an advantage taking opposing players out on the perimeter.
While Lyles has promise, the Nuggets have a logjam on the inside. Would the team really look to spend a first-round pick on a power forward with Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Joffrey Lauvergne on the roster? That doesn't even factor in that free agent Darrell Arthur has been working out with the team in Denver (maybe he wants to come back?), Nikola Jokic is expected to join the team, and Danilo Gallinari can play some power forward, too. Not that roster moves won't be coming, but big men are already in abundance on this roster. But if a guy like Lyles or Willie-Cauley Stein have impressed the Nuggets, they could look to make room for a talent they like in this draft.
We'll see how they look tomorrow.