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Stiffs NBA Draft Series: Henry Ellenson

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After a strong freshman campaign at Marquette, Henry Ellenson is one of the top rated power forwards heading into the draft. Would he be a good fit with the Nuggets?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Stiffs will be covering all of the top prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft in our Stiffs NBA draft series. Check back daily for video, stats, and analysis of all the projected first round prospects.

Stiffs Draft Series

Thon Maker Denzel Valentine Marquese Chriss Jaylen Brown
Dragan Bender Cheick Dialo Furkan Korkmaz Skal Labissiere
DeAndre Bembry Jamal Murray Tyler Ulis Buddy Hield
Malachi Richardson Domantas Sabonis Brice Johnson Deyonta Davis
Brandon Ingram

Henry Ellenson

Stats

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Field Goal % Three Point % Free Throw %
17.0 9.9 1.8 0.8 1.5 2.4 44.6% 28.8 74.9

Strengths

Offense: Ellenson has a polished offensive game - he's effective in the post, but his biggest offensive strength might be face-up. He can score in a variety of ways, including off the dribble and on pull up jumpers and he likes to use his size and ballhandling ability to attack closeouts. His mid-range jumper is respectable, but Ellenson only shot 29% from three in college. Still, with a 75% free throw percentage and good mechanics he could potentially spread the floor a bit better if he improves his long range shooting.

Hands/Ballhandling: For a 6'10 big man Ellenson has great ballhandling skills, which also makes him a threat in the transition game. He has the composure and body control to take it coast to coast while weaving through players, and even in the half court  game he's creative in his shot fakes and other moves to create his own scoring opportunities. His quick hands have also helped him develop into a solid rebounder and outlet passer, and given that he handled the ball on nearly 40% of possessions at Marquette, that's a pretty good sign.

Size: Ellenson measured 6'11.5 with a 7'2.5 wingspan and 9'0 standing reach at the draft combine, making him the ideal size for a power forward. In the modern NBA he would also be able to slide over to center in a small ball lineup. His 245 lbs. gives him the ability to finish with contact as well as the potential to create mismatches in smaller lineups.

Weaknesses

Defense: Defense it the biggest question mark in Ellenson's game. It doesn't seem like he shows a lot of commitment on the defensive end of the floor. He's not effective in defending the pick and roll and isn't aggressive enough in the post to be considered a rim protector. He'll get beat by quicker forwards and his feet aren't quick enough to effectively defend the perimeter. However, his length does allow him to contest and at least make things difficult.

Athleticism: Ellenson is athletic, but he really lacks the explosiveness needed to be a dominant. He has good body control, but his feet are slow which really impedes his ability to drive on offense and especially inhibits his defense. He also isn't very muscular  (which shouldn't be a problem in the long run) but he could definitely use more strength, which would improve his post game and defense at the rim.

Pro Comparisons

Kevin Love: Both Love and Ellenson have the same strengths and weaknesses, namely rebounding, stretching the floor a bit and a mild post game, but with much left to be desired on defense. Love didn't even shoot from three his rookie year but has since added that to his repertoire; to be effective Ellenson will have to do the same.

Markieff Morris: Ellenson is built almost identically to Morris and neither are tremendous athletes. Morris has developed a solid pick-and-pop game, and given Ellenson's size and mid-range shooting ability he could easily do the same.

Fit with the Nuggets

I think the answer to this depends on what direction the Nuggets are headed in. Denver is currently well off on paper at the 4, but that's also a position that is likely to change if Tim Connelly is active on the trade market and depending on how Darrell Arthur's player option pans out. My bet is Arthur will opt out to make more money, but if Connelly doesn't want to re-sign him for what he wants then drafting a 4 isn't out of the question. As the roster currently stands Ellenson would fill in behind Kenneth Faried, but if Denver is looking to make some big trades, either for picks or other assets, Faried's name will likely be in the mix. Regardless of what happens, Ellenson would provide some insurance and depth at that spot.

As a rookie, Ellenson would be able to slide into a bench role and provide instant offense and solid rebounding. With his pick-and-pop ability and adequate three point shooting he could also help spread the floor, a commodity the Nuggets have lacked in recent years. If he were to ever replace Faried it would be a blast watching him alongside Jokic, but that would be a horrible defensive lineup in the front court. On that regard, having Ellenson on the bench with Jusuf Nurkic patrolling the paint seems a lot more reasonable to me, at least until he gets in better shape and has more defensive commitment.

Projected Draft Spot

SB Nation - 17 (Memphis Grizzlies)

Draft Express - 10 (Milwaukee Bucks)

CBS Sports (Vecenie) - 14 (Chicago Bulls)

Sports Illustrated - 13 (Phoenix Suns)

Final Thoughts

Ellenson has the offensive skills to be a good player in this league; however, I think his lack of elite athleticism will ultimately determine his ceiling. His draft stock has fluctuated quite a bit so where he will actually land is a bit unclear, though he has been in the top ten at various points. I think that's a little much and that a mid-to-late first round pick is appropriate for him.

The Nuggets certainly won't be picking Ellenson at seven, but if he somehow falls to 15 or 19 then you never know. If there aren't any better players available at those spots, then Ellenson wouldn't be a bad pick up. There's also the possibility to package those two picks and trade up a few spots, but if Denver is going to move up for a power forward I don't think Ellenson is the guy to do that for. I would much rather see the Nuggets go after Deyonta Davis or maybe Marquisse Chriss, as both of these players are a bit more well-rounded and have a higher upside.

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SAVE THE DATE THURSDAY 6/23
STIFFS NIGHT OUT: 2016 NBA DRAFT

Join your fellow Stiffs as we find out what the Nuggets will do with their THREE first round selections during the 2016 NBA Draft. We will gather at our home bar Jake's Sports & Spirits (3800 Walnut Street) around 5:30pm and Jake's will extend happy hour drink prices for us all draft long. And we'll play Denver Nuggets draft trivia for prizes, including individual game tickets during the 2016-17 season. We hope to see you there!

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