The NBA Draft is one week away, and as of publication, the Denver Nuggets have three first-round picks at their disposal.
The Nuggets have been hosting workouts in preparation for the draft, getting one last look at prospects that have declared for the draft. Once the draft is finished, and all the teams have made their selections, there could potentially be five new members (three first-round picks, two second-round picks) of the Denver Nuggets.
While the previous mock drafts have been solo projects, this time, four of the Stiffs writers got together to pontificate on the process. Evan Fiala had the first pick, Ryan Blackburn had the second pick, Tim D'Elia had the third pick, and Daniel Lewis had the fourth pick (and so on).
Follow along with Denver Stiffs as they continue their Draft Series - the latest post was on Brice Johnson, a rebounding power forward from UNC.
Team needs have been taken into consideration for this mock draft.
1. Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons (Evan)
No surprise here: Simmons remains the most versatile player in this draft with given his skill, height and ball handling ability. His shot still needs a lot of improvement but he arguably has the highest ceiling of anyone on the draft board. The Sixers need more wing players than power fowards but with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the trading block it certainly seems that they are trying to make space for Simmons. Philadelphia has rode Sam Hinkie's coattails into the depths of misery for the last few years; now that they have the No. 1 overall pick, not taking the best player available would be a mistake.
2. Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram (Ryan)
I'm going best player available here. Brandon Ingram is tailor made for the NBA with his perimeter skill set and ability to rise up over other players with his length in order to shoot. Kevin Durant comparisons aside, Ingram would go to LA with the expectation of being the superstar scorer the Lakers need in the place of Kobe Bryant. Can he do it? He fills a position of need at small forward, had a very successful year at Duke, and complements the ball handling exploits of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle very well. Each of those players has the capability to find Ingram on the perimeter or cutting into the lane, and it makes for an exciting Lakers core moving forward.
3. Boston Celtics, Dragan Bender (Tim)
If the Celtics keep this pick I'm assuming they'll go best available again. Bender has had a massive spike in attention recently, due to his stretch 4 capabilities. A big man who can shoot 3-pointers effectively is coveted in the league these days, and Bender can do that quite effectively. Standing at 7"1 at 18 years old Bender has the capabilities to become a very dangerous power forward due to his size and age.
4. Phoenix Suns, Jaylen Brown (Daniel)
With the best players on the board at this pick playing a guard position, and the Suns rostering Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker, the Suns take the best player available that isn't a guard. Brown has the physical tools to be a difference maker on defense, which should help with their perimeter defense. He's able to finish around the rim, and can find other ways to score. It'll be a rocky start, but he is worth the risk.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves, Jamal Murray (Evan)
With how young the Wolves are I think they still need to draft BPA for one last time and Murray is the perfect choice. His versatility will bring depth to both guard positions and he would fit in nicely with both Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine, More importantly, his shooting fills a huge need while creating floor spacing for Karl Anthony-Towns to do his thing. Thibodeau will lust after Kris Dunn's defensive capabilities a little bit but ultimately realize that Murray is the better choice in the long run.
6. New Orleans Pelicans, Buddy Hield (Ryan)
The Pelicans could select Kris Dunn or Marquese Chriss here, but Buddy Hield is the best option here for the Pelicans. Nuggets fans hate it right now, but Hield is the perfect replacement for Eric Gordon who is likely gone in free agency. Ryan Anderson will also likely depart, leaving a big hole in the three point shooting capability of the team. He plays shooting guard, also a position of need, and fits well off ball next to Jrue Holiday and as spacing for Anthony Davis.
7. Denver Nuggets, Timothe Luwawu (Tim)
I think the Nuggets here look to add some depth on the wing, with Gallinari having new trade rumours daily and the unknown of Wilson chandlers return, a bit of extra depth of a good defensive wing wouldn't be out of the question here. The nuggets like their euros and so Luwawu fits the profile here.
8. Sacramento Kings, Kris Dunn (Daniel)
Last year the Kings had an opportunity to draft a franchise point guard and took Willie Cauley-Stein instead. This year, they repent and take Kris Dunn. Dunn is the top guard in the draft, with tremendous defensive skills that helps separate him from the other point guards in the draft. His court vision and physical tools will help him succeed from Game One. Vlade Divac makes a great decision here and gives new head coach Dave Joerger a point guard to craft his team around - as long as Dunn gets along with DeMarcus Cousins.
9. Toronto Raptors, Marquese Chriss (Evan)
The Raptors benefit from Chriss falling and GM Masai Ujiri jumps on the opportunity to grab one of the highest touted players this summer. With Luis Scola mercifully on his way out, Toronto's ideal fit is a mobile, decent at shooting, defensive-minded power forward who can play alongside Jonas Valanciunas. Chriss is raw and not quite to that point yet but can benefit from playing off the bench while he develops. This pick is made almost solely based on Chriss' potential, but shooting for the stars in the draft isn't anything new for Ujiri.
10. Milwaukee Bucks, Jakob Poeltl (Ryan)
The Bucks do the smart thing here and grab a future rim protector. They have a bunch of money committed to Greg Monroe and John Henson, but neither possesses the blend of two-way skills that Poeltl has. He may not start immediately, but it's safe to assume that the center out of Utah will be a consistent contributor for most of his career.
11. Orlando Magic, Dejounte Murray (Tim)
The Magic need a small forward, however there isn't a small forward that hasn't been taken that can be justified being picked at 11. So with that in mind the Magic take Dejounte Murray. Murray isn't afraid to take a shot, which is completely opposite to current point guard Elfrid Payton. Murray has the ability to be a lock-down defender and probably one of the best defensive guys in the draft class. Frank Vogel is known for playing a half court game therefore defense is a must.
12. Utah Jazz, Furkan Korkmaz (Daniel)
The Jazz are in a tough spot, with established starters on a team that is young but doesn't have the potential to be a championship squad. Dante Exum will be back after an ACL tear, so point guard can be addressed that way. With Korkmaz, the Jazz get insurance in case Gordon Hayward leaves in free agency. He's a talented perimeter shooter, has great bounce, and has good footwork. He could be a draft and stash candidate, but if he comes over, he could help their bench big time.
13. Phoenix Suns, Henry Ellenson (Evan)
With Jaylen Brown already selected at 4, Phoenix will next look to fill a need at PF. Even if Mirza Teletovic is re-signed, he is better suited off the bench anyways, making room for Ellenson to potentially start as a rookie. Ellenson brings a polished offensive game; he is strong in the post, has incredible ball handling skills for a man his size (including in transition) and a not too shabby jump shot. Defensively he still needs work, but with Tyson Chandler anchoring at center Ellenson has some margin for error in that regard.
14. Chicago Bulls, Wade Baldwin IV (Ryan)
The Chicago Bulls are in a precarious position. There's no way around that. They may very well trade Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler this offseason. That makes the selection of Baldwin that much easier. Not only is he close to the best player available, but he's the most versatile player available. He demonstrated a quality three point shot, and his wingspan and agility should allow him to defend every kind of opposing guard effectively. Even if neither star is traded, Baldwin would be an effective guard at either position.
15. Denver Nuggets, Skal Labissiere (Tim)
Labissiere possesses immense size and length for a power forward standing at 7"1. With Faried the subject of trade talks skal could come in and potentially replace him, however this will add to Denver's logjam of forwards. Labissiere was touted as one of the top prospects of this draft class but failed to love up to his potential. The smart move here would be to draft Labissiere and try to orchestrate a trade for another piece that is more useful to Denver if Faried stays.
16. Boston Celtics, Ivica Zubac (Daniel)
The Celtics will be trading picks during the draft - they can't add eight players to their roster. With this pick however, they can add an international player that they can stash overseas this season. Zubac is a giant, with the mobility of a man much smaller in size. He can be a valuable screen setter, rebounder, rim protector, and post scorer for a team that prides themselves with doing the little things right.
17. Memphis Grizzlies, Tyler Ulis (Evan)
Mike Conley is an unrestricted free agent and is by no means guaranteed to re-sign with Memphis. Ulis would provide insurance in case Conley does leave, and if not, would still add depth to that position. Ulis is a pure point guard, has a high basketball I.Q. and has the potential to become a solid perimeter threat. He's also an excellent passer and would facilitate the offense around Marc Gasol or the bench unit with ease. Even though he's tiny and weighed in at 149 lbs. at the combine, he won't be that small forever, and could really thrive if given the opportunity.
18. Detroit Pistons, Denzel Valentine (Ryan)
This really is the perfect fit. Not only did the Pistons struggle to generate offense last year when Reggie Jackson went to the bench, but they also need as many floor spacers around Jackson and Drummond as possible. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is basically the antithesis of Valentine, and his two major weaknesses are ball handling and shooting. Acquiring a player who can do both, along with playing small forward in small ball lineups, would be the ideal scenario for the Pistons. Oh, and Valentine played about 90 miles down the road at Michigan State.
19. Denver Nuggets, Deyonta Davis (Tim)
The fact that he has fallen this far is pretty crazy, not many would bet he would be available at this point. The Nuggets have a lot of big men, but he seems like he could be a fit. This draft isn't that deep as it gets further on so by now its probably a wise move to just take the best available in Davis
20. Indiana Pacers, Domantas Sabonis (Daniel)
Yung Sabonis is a center in a power forward body, but that works fine with Myles Turner being a power forward in a center body. He brings energy, rebounding, and basketball IQ that the Pacers will need under Nate McMillan. His playmaking in the post will also help their offense click.
21. Atlanta Hawks, Brice Johnson (Evan)
The Hawks have to deal with Al Horford's free agency and have already been linked to rumors for Nerlens Noel, so if they turn to the draft for a big man they'll likely need someone who log a lot of minutes from the get go. Johnson has the athleticism, offensive touch and rebounding ability to make an immediate impact. He might be older but he has the experience and could easily turn into a really good player within Atlanta's system.
22. Charlotte Hornets, Juan Hernangomez (Ryan)
The Charlotte Hornets are an interesting case. They have major free agents at literally every position: Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Al Jefferson. To me, the most pressing need is to maximize money. The max contract given to Batum is worth it, but paying near max money to Marvin Williams is not. He is the prototypical role player in today's NBA, but Charlotte cannot afford to pay too many players. That's why Juan Hernangomez fits in so well. In the spacing NBA, he has the potential to assume Williams' role as a floor spacer and offensive weapon at power forward. With Batum potentially sliding to shooting guard to accommodate the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist into the lineup, more spacing will be needed at power forward. Juancho may not start immediately, but he's tailor made to do so shortly.
23. Boston Celtics, Thon Maker (Tim)
Celtics pull the trigger on Maker here, with the Celtics having so many draft choices they can be prepared to take a punt on the big man. Maker could potentially turn out to be anything that's why teams are so scared yet intrigued about drafting him. Maker is not NBA ready due to his stick thin frame but he's only 18 anyway so there's heaps of time for him to work. Boston pride themselves on all players being very good facilitators and Maker has very good ball handling and passing skills for a 7 footer.
24. Philadelphia 76ers, DeAndre Bembry (Daniel)
Bembry looks like he's playing basketball set to an Earth, Wind & Fire album, with a nice pace, versatility, and old school swag. He's a 3&D prospect that played college ball in Philly at Saint Joseph's, and his ability to contribute in a variety of areas should help the 76ers as they look to return to relevancy.
25. Los Angeles Clippers, Taurean Prince (Evan)
The Clippers still have a loaded team but their window of opportunity is quickly closing. Prince is one of the more NBA ready players this late in the draft and should translate into an effective player, especially on defense. His three point shot isn't bad either, and it's not unreasonable to see him fill in a role similar to that of Matt Barnes in the past.
26. Philadelphia 76ers, Demetrius Jackson (Ryan)
Jackson is an absolute steal here for the 76ers. They got Simmons and Bembry, a wing and a forward with ball handling skills. Now, they get their guard who can handle the ball a bit, play off ball, shoot from beyond the arc, take it inside, and play solid defense to boot. They have Ish Smith, but it's hard to envision Smith being a starting point guard on a successful NBA team. A future lineup of Jackson-Bembry-Insert SF from Okafor trade-Simmons-Noel isn't hard to imagine being successful. They need more shooters, but the 76ers take what is by far the best player available here who also plays a huge position of need.
27. Toronto Raptors, Malachi Richardson (Tim)
With Demar Derozan announcing he will become a free agent, the Raptors are in search for a two-guard. Malachi Richardson is a 6-foot-6-inch shooting guard who can get hot from 3-point range in a hurry, he can be a very potent scorer when he's in rhythm.
28. Phoenix Suns, Malik Beasley (Daniel)
The Suns have a nice group of guards on their roster, but adding another athletic guard that shot 38.7% on 3-point attempts at this point of the draft is a fine decision. Beasley wasn't asked to create plays often at Florida State, but he was able to score efficiently thanks to his shooting form and ability to finish near the rim.
29. San Antonio Spurs, Cheick Diallo (Evan)
Against the Thunder, the Spurs sorely needed a center who could defend, rebound and protect the rim. Diallo is raw and lacks offensive polish, but his 7'4 wingspan, high-motor and tenacity around the rim will make him a good defender and excellent rebounder from the get go. With Tim Duncan on the decline, at 29 this is a high upside pick that could payoff huge in the long run.
30. Golden State Warriors, Damian Jones (Ryan)
The Warriors wrap things up with a selection geared to help them at center. Damian Jones is the best player left on my board, and he's a great fit. The Warriors don't need a ton of offense from him, but they will need a guy to develop. Andrew Bogut isn't getting any younger, and Festus Ezeli is due a big raise. The Warriors won't want to handcuff themselves by paying their own players exorbitant amounts of money. If the choice is to keep two of Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes, and Ezeli over the next two offseasons, they shouldn't pay Festus. Now they simply draft his replacement.
Who is your favorite pick in this mock draft and why?
Evan Fiala: My favorite pick is Denzel Valentine to the Pistons. I really like Valentine's game and think he will fill a lot of holes for that team with his versatility, floor spacing, leadership and basketball I.Q. Plus, who doesn't love a good hometown hero story?
Ryan Blackburn: I will go with the Toronto Raptors getting Marquese Chriss. Not only could he eventually fill a position of need for a team in desperate need of an athletic power forward, but he has an all-star ceiling, and they got him out of the Andrea Bargnani trade....priceless.
Tim D'Elia: My favorite pick is Thon Maker to the Celtics. Everyone loves a story and Makers was that when he was 5 he escaped a war in Sudan and was eventually accepted by Australia to come live there as a refugee. Maker has so much potential and the fact that he's an Aussie just makes it my favorite pick of the draft. (Ed. note - Tim uses "favourite")
Daniel Lewis: My favorite pick is Deyonta Davis to the Nuggets at No. 19. His athleticism separates him from a lot of the other big men in the draft, and he has a lot of potential. He didn't get a lot of minutes at Michigan State because of an upperclassman, but it definitely wasn't because he couldn't play. He'll bring the ability to finish above the rim, defend on the perimeter, and protect the paint to whichever team selects him.
With the Denver Nuggets holding THREE first round selections in June 23rd's NBA Draft, the 2016 draft is sure to have an everlasting impact on the Nuggets franchise and will be a must-see event. Join your fellow Stiffs and Nuggets fans as we gather to see who the Nuggets draft (or trade for!). And in-between picks we'll play Nuggets draft trivia for prizes!
Stiffs Night Out: 2016 NBA Draft will take place at our home sports bar, Jake's Sports & Spirits in Denver's vibrant RiNo neighborhood at 3800 Walnut Street. Located conveniently across the street from the new 38th and Blake Commuter Rail Station and just five minutes (by car) from Coors Field. Jake's will extend happy hour for all Stiffs attendees.
All ages are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!