The Denver Nuggets made some small news this week with the signing of Jakarr Sampson. As the team finalizes its roster for the remainder of the season we are going to discuss what Sampson's signing means as well as what we can expect in the upcoming home stand. Finally, we'll talk draft and how many first round picks is juuuuust right.
1. What are your thoughts on the Jakarr Sampson signing?
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): I’m okay with the Sampson signing. I know Mike Miller exists, but the Nuggets didn’t really have a backup for Gallinari. Will Barton is a good rebounder, but Sampson gives the Nuggets a more physical backup for Gallo. This lets Barton spend more of his energy on offense as well, and can give him some more energy for the fourth quarter. He’s as raw as they come on offense, and if the ball is in his hands late in the shot clock, sayonara to that possession. He can cut and finish if the lane is open, but really he’s here to help give relief to Gallo. I don’t see him with Denver next season.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): It’s a zero risk signing. The Nuggets get a backup SF for the rest of the season and if he doesn’t pan out, his contract is non-guaranteed next year. It’s the perfect gamble because there is virtually no risk in taking him. Chances are he isn’t a rotation player but the same could’ve been said for Barton last season. Barton had shown more signs of upside, but no one thought he’d be a 6th man of the year after playing just 2 minutes per game in Portland. Hopefully, we’ll all be saying the same thing about Jakkar in a few months.
Russell Hamilton (@rscotham): Not an exciting signing, but not one that is bad either. As Adam states, it’s a zero risk signing. I don’t expect him to be on the team beyond this season, though. It does give the Nuggets coaching staff the opportunity to work on his game for the remainder of the season and through the off season, but I think the chances of JaKarr ever becoming more than an end of the bench energy guy are very, very remote. It does allow the Nuggets to play Barton at the back up two more and give Gallo more breaks - as long as scoring is not needed from the three. Overall, I think it’s fine, but not consequential.
2. What should the Nuggets record be on the upcoming seven game home stand?
Lewis: It could be 7-0, that would be exciting to have a seven game win streak on the books. I’m going to guess that the Nuggets go 4-3, but I can’t guess which games will be wins and which will be losses. The Nuggets are such a young team, we never know if Kenneth Faried or the Manimal will show up, and the Lakers fans are going to be a presence when they come to play.
Mares: I’m going to say 5-2. Everytime I think this team has turned a corner, they go on an extended losing streak or drop a home game against a bad team. All seven home games are winnable but I think 5-2 is a solid record. If they somehow manage to go 7-0, then they will likely squeeze back into the playoff discussion. Anything short of that and it’s almost certainly over.
Hamilton: I think they probably lose to Memphis, but they could pull that one out, so I’ll go totally over the top optimistic and say 6-1. They’ll lose to a desperate Washington team led by my preseason MVP pick John Wall, and should be able to take care of everyone else (I don’t trust the Mavs at all, and think that Carlisle’s amazing smoke and mirrors coaching job will ultimately collapse). Of course, this team has proven that they can certainly drop games to lesser competition, so I would be surprised with some disappointing losses.
3. How many 1st round picks should the Nuggets hope convey in the 2016 draft?
Lewis: They should hope for all four! The Grizzlies keep winning, even with Lance Stephenson getting minutes, which is frustrating. The Rockets are a broken team and may end up missing the playoffs, which is more frustrating. The Trail Blazers are a playoff team - they have the fourth-best record in the league against Western Conference teams, at 23-15. They’re 7-12 against the Eastern Conference, but they are really good against the West. Like seemingly every other person on the Internet that cheers for a team that will have a mid-first round pick, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Nuggets draft Denzel Valentine with this pick. If the Nuggets end up with all four, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade one of them for a future pick. Four rookies is a lot of youth to add to a team at one time, especially a team that is currently starting three players under the age of 21.
Mares: It really all depends on what their highest draft pick is. I really like Brandon Ingram and love the way he could fit on this roster. If the Nuggets land outside of the top 2, I think it’s best to snag just two total first rounders and find more solid role guys and keep the rebuild slow and steady. But if they are in position to land Ingram, 3-4 draft picks become currency for filling out the roster exactly the way that the Nuggets need. The Nuggets blueprint would be much clearer with Mudiay, Harris, Ingram, Jokic, and Nurkic and the other players and draft picks become much more valuable trade assets to properly build around those guys. But still, the Nuggets will likely end up with the 6th or 7th pick and that means they’d probably only want a total of 2 first rounders this year, 2 more next year.
Hamilton: I think the perfect world would have us getting two picks this year - the Houston pick and whichever of the Nuggets/Knicks pick is the best. I expect to get at least two, but am worried that the second pick will be the PDX pick and that the Houston pick will turn into a pumpkin. If we did end up getting three or four picks this year, it’s fine, but not ideal. I would expect it would lead to Tim Connelly to work very hard on consolidating them, either through moving up or moving multiple picks for a player.