Draft lottery night in the NBA has come and gone, and for once it was all chalk - and as always, Denver did not move up into the top-3. All 14 picks fell exactly as the odds predicted they should, leaving the Nuggets with the 7th pick as a result of the pick swap with the New York Knicks to complete the Melo trade (thanks New York!) to go along with the 15th they got from the Houston Rockets for Ty Lawson and the 19th pick from the Portland Trailblazers as part of the Arron Afflalo trade.
So what might the Nuggets do with those three first-round picks in this draft? Tim Connelly mentioned right before the draft on a podcast with The Vertical that the Nuggets are not afraid to keep all their picks:
"There's certainly 19 guys we like, we wouldn't be hesitant taking three first round guys if it's guys that we think could help us. We tend to be aggressive. We like to be opportunistic when something presents itself. But, as (today) night is the first chance that we'll have a crystal clear picture of our off-season and we'll move forward from there."
It takes two to tango, however, and while the Nuggets would like to be opportunistic, sometimes the chips don't fall your way. If the Nuggets keep all three picks, here are some of the names being referenced by draft experts in various mocks at this point. Remember, individual and group workouts are still on the horizon, and evaluations are ever-changing. This is all written in quicksand at this point. The seven sites listed are DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and SBNation.
As you can see there's little consensus yet, not even on the quality of certain players. Fox Sports has Denver taking Luwawu 7th, and NBADraft.net has him going 25th to the Clippers. After the top six or so the draft really flattens out, so fairly serious discrepancies in player assessments and slotting will likely continue right up until the draft.
In the early going, several people have Buddy Hield falling out of the top-six (usually surpassed by Jaylen Brown) and that would be a boon for us. Whether Hield can still have a high ceiling as a 22 year old rookie is a question for a later article (short answer: yes, but...) however he would fill a huge need for us as a shooter who can hit from anywhere. If he's not there, though, the options range pretty widely and no one really agrees on who is best for us at 7 if it's not Buddy.
The other point of agreement in the early mocks is that Denver will look to add an international player. That's a safe bet based on Tim Connelly's past draft history, and also an acknowledgment that it's hard to find time to develop three rookies at once and a stash could prove useful. Nikola Jokic and Joffrey Lauvergne were stashes, but Jusuf Nurkic was not, so simply drafting an international player doesn't guarantee Denver will not bring him over immediately. It may just be that they believe he is the best player available.
There will be lots to go over as draft season rolls on, and more profiles on the potential draftees in question, but for now we stand on the edge of a busy (and vitally important) month for the Nuggets. Whether they stand pat and draft what the basketball gods have given them or try to work trades using both the picks and the commodities on the roster makes a huge difference to the future of Denver basketball.
Circle June 23rd on the calendar, boys and girls. Draft night for the Nuggets will be a must-see event.