Tomorrow is finally June 23, the next big day in Nuggets franchise history. Denver has three first-round and two second-round picks in this draft but of course nothing is guaranteed. Who will they select? Will any big trades be made? Will the Nuggets continue its long-standing tradition of drafting international players? Let's get down to business and find out what the Stiffs have to say:
1) Who do you want the Nuggets to draft at No. 7, assuming that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are off the board?
Tim D'Elia (@tdelia96): I'm a fan of Buddy Hield, he's the best shooter in the draft and could make an almost instant impact for the Nuggets if drafted. Currently Denver lack consistent shooters and this is where Hield fits in nicely.
Zach Mikash (@Zach Mikash): I'm so conflicted between Hield and Murray. I love that both have the ability to fill it up from the three point range and give the Nuggets the spacing that they desperately need to maximize Emmanuel Mudiay's skills. However I'm also fairly pessimistic about the prospects of either of those guys still being there at 7, so at that point I'm hoping Dragan Bender is still there and if not I guess begrudgingly I would take Marquese Chriss.
Evan Fiala (@eefiala): I really want Jamal Murray. I think his shooting is sorely needed and he'll fit in nicely to help spread the floor like Zach said. Hield will of course provide those same benefits, but Murray is younger and offers far more flexibility on offense with his scoring and ballhandling, while the older Hield seems pretty one-dimensional. That said, if Murray is gone and Hield is still there I would choose him over anyone else, but ultimately I think if Denver wants one of these two shooters they need to move up.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): One of Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield, or Jaylen Brown. I think Hield will be able to be an excellent perimeter threat, and would really help the Nuggets. Bender could be a great Nugget someday, but it won't be next season. Brown could also be a great Nugget someday, but he'd have to wait for Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler to depart before he gets enough minutes to make an impact.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): My guess is it will either be Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss. I see Kris Dunn being selected at 3 by the Sixers after completing a trade, followed by: one of Chriss/Bender at 4, Murray at 5, and Hield at 6. Unless the Nuggets trade up, they are stuck with whoever's left between one of the power forwards and Jaylen Brown. I don't want Jaylen Brown, and I don't think Tim Connelly does either.
Mike Olson (@visiblemike): At the risk of sounding like a local echo, I'd much prefer Jamal Murray, not just for the broader offensive skillset, but the ability to fit in defensively to Michael Malone's starting point. If Murray is off the board, Hield is a nice prize. If they are both gone, I think Ryan is dead on with the Chriss/Bender fallout, and that creates a bit of a frontcourt logjam. If they end up with another power forward, I'm betting Tim Connelly doesn't keep all those players on the team.
Thomas Rowberry (@Rowberry_): If Dragan Bender is available at 7 I fully expect Connelly to add another Euro big to the Nuggets frontcourt rotation. Realistically however I think Buddy Hield is ‘the guy' at 7, he's arguably the best shooter in this years draft and fits arguably the Nuggets biggest need - backcourt scoring. That's essentially all that Hield can do but given how well he shot in college it's hard to imagine him not translating to the pros.
2) Who do you want the Nuggets to draft at No. 15 and No. 19, assuming no trades are made and they keep both picks?
D'Elia: Hopefully Timothe Luwawu at 15 and if he's still on the board at 19 Skal Labissiere. This draft is so shrouded in mystery as no one apart from Ingram and Simmons will definitely go to a specific team. I'm hoping Luwawu is still on the board at 15 because he can develop into a very good 3 and D wing player. Skal has such a high potential and he adds even more perimeter shooting from our bigger guys, most importantly he adds size at the power forward spot which Denver lacks with Faried.
Mikash: If in some crazy scenario Deyonta Davis slides to 15 then absolutely he's the guy to take there. In the likely event he is not the Nuggets need to address the lack of athleticism and rim protection from their big men. Skal Labiessiere could be a target at 15 that would make some sense. As for 19 they need a guy to stash, Juancho Hernangomez seems like the natural fit as the Nuggets worked him out and appear to be high on him. Don't sleep on Luwawu or Furkan Korkmaz though if either starts to slide.
Fiala: It depends on who goes at 7... If the Nuggets select a shooting guard/wing player early, then at 15 I would like to see them go after a big. Deyonta Davis' and Skal Labiessiere's names have already been mentioned, but I wouldn't mind someone like Sabonis either. If at 7 Denver takes a PF/C, at 15 I'd like to see them nab Denzel Valentine (though he will likely be gone), or either Luwawu or Korkmaz. If at 19 they could grab Hernangomez that would be a huge success as well.
Lewis: I hope that the Nuggets get two of Furkan Korkmaz/Timothe Luwawu/Juan Hernangomez. I am also really high on Deyonta Davis as a power forward prospect, but I don't think he'll be available when the Nuggets are picking at No. 15. Hernangomez has a lot of potential as a stretch four, and projects as a better rebounder than Danilo Gallinari. Luwawu is an athletic wing, and has star potential. That guy is going to be a quality NBA player - like a Courtney Lee type player.
Blackburn: If we draft Bender or Chriss, then we will need a ready-made contributor at some point, but not at 15. We should select one of Furkan Korkmaz or Timothe Luwawu at 15 as they are two prospects with high ceilings that fit a need on the wing. At 19, my ready-made contributor is Taurean Prince, who could be an absolute steal. He has good athleticism, a legitimate jump shot, and multi-positional defense, something Malone would love to utilize.
Olson: It's been fun digging in on all the players this year, and for some reason, I'm a big Furkan Korkmaz fan. I think he'd be in the right place at the right time for this team down the road, right as they need him to be. While I agree about Deyonta Davis' potential, I'm already arguing against a power forward logjam, so am also hoping for a Luwawu pickup.
Rowberry: Anybody that has interacted with the Stiffs writers on Twitter will know just how high on Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz I am. Luwawu is ‘my guy', I've seen him as high as 12 and as low as the early 20s, 15 seems like a realistic spot. He's a terrific defender, able to cover one through four on the court, let him develop behind Gallo and Wilson. At 19 I want Juan Hernangomez, he reminds me of Ersan Ilyasova when he joined the NBA. He can shoot the ball, he'll add great range to the Nuggets frontcourt.
3) What is your dream scenario for the Nuggets? Trades and all that apply.
D'Elia: Somehow trading up to pick 2 and nabbing either Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons. I have no idea what sort of crazy trade this would entail and the amount of uproar it would cause would be insane. Tim Connelly is a wizard and he is so aggressive with pursuing trades that if given the task he could probably make something happen. I Leave it in your capable hands Mr Connelly.
Mikash: Landing Paul George in a draft day deal. The likelihood of this is very slim, especially considering the Indiana Pacers have publicly said they would only consider trading George for a Kevin Durant type of player. Still, that's a natural response for them given the situation and of the rumored star players to be available (George, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins) the Pacers dynamic two way swingman would be my top choice for the Nuggets.
Fiala: I don't think Hield or Murray will last til No. 7, so I would love for Denver to package No. 7 with Gallinari or Faried (but not both) to move up a few spots, ideally to grab Murray. They could then package No. 15 and No. 19 to move up again, this time drafting someone to fill the hole of whoever is left with one of Deyonta Davis/Timothe Luwawu/Wade Baldwin if possible. This route would be another year of development but in the long run would be more of our best interest I think. I know there's the chance of Denver grabbing some of these guys with the picks they already have, but I'm a believer in creating your own destiny and not just settling for what might be there. If the Nuggets really like someone, no matter who it is, I'd be content knowing they did what they had to in order to draft or trade for that player (without blowing up the whole team, of course).
Lewis: I love this question. My dream scenario has the Nuggets take Buddy Hield with the No. 7 pick and Deyonta Davis with the No. 15 pick. Then things get crazy, with the Nuggets sending the No. 19 pick to Sacramento as part of a three-team trade with the Kings and Boston Celtics. The trade sends Kenneth Faried to Sacramento and Danilo Gallinari to Boston, but the Nuggets get back Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, the No. 31 and 35 pick in the 2016 draft, as well as the Brooklyn Nets 2018 pick. With the second round picks they get from Boston, the Nuggets take Guerschon Yabusele and Isaia Cordinier. With the No. 53 pick, the Nuggets pick up Robert Carter Jr., a power forward that played at Maryland. With their final pick, the No. 56 pick, the Nuggets sell it to a team for cash. So they leave the draft without Faried and Gallo, but pick up Crowder, Johnson, Hield, Davis, Carter, and stash Yabusele and Cordinier. I know it's unrealistic, but you asked for a dream scenario. (Scene)
Blackburn: Hard to top Daniel's theatrics, but my dream scenario is to land Jamal Murray at 7 after teams decide he's not athletic enough. I have made no bones about my love for Murray, but I genuinely believe he is the best shooting prospect to come out of the draft in, oh about seven years. Playing him next to Emmanuel Mudiay would be incredible. After that, THEN we make our draft day trade of Paul George! Gallo + Barton + Nurkic + 15 + 19 + Memphis 1st for George sounds about right. After that, Marvin Williams calls Tim Connelly and says he wants to play power forward for free. Hey, a man can dream!
Olson: I concur, Daniel's answer made my head explode. I think I smell toast. Mine may not be so elegant or intricate, but I'd wonder if Kenneth Faried and either the 7 or 15+19 could somehow bring Jimmy Butler to Denver. Probably not without a little more sweetener from Denver. Jimmy would then voluntarily encase himself in Carbonite (TM LucasFilms) or magically wind the clock back a couple years to be coming along in closer step to the rest of the crew. Because we're dreaming, right? The gist is to get a defensive and offensive floor-stretcher at the two, move Gary Harris into the dangerous-small-ball-backup-two role, and roll the dice with the rest of what you have.
Rowberry: For me a trade is a must, I don't want Connelly to trade for a ‘star', he'll have to give up the house to do so but if we can move one of Gallo/Faried I wouldn't be against it. In terms of draft picks my ideal scenario would be - Hield at 7, Luwawu at 15, Hernangomez at 19. All three offer something the Nuggets don't currently have. I'd imagine the Nuggets top free agent targets will only sign one year deals so drafting multiple first round guys may well get them ahead of the curve for next season.
4) What do you think actually happens on draft day?
D'Elia: I'm hoping for everything to turn out just as the front office plans it and they get the guys they want. However I'm a realist and I think the Nuggets keep pick 7 and Jamal Murray slides to 7 where the Nuggets take him absolutely. Pick 15 I think the Nuggets will also look to keep and pick a power forward. Pick 19 is probably going to be trade bait to add in a package with possibly Faried to sweeten up a trade for someone else. However, if no one bites the Nuggets will look to use pick 19 to pick the best player available on the board.
Mikash: I think the Nuggets stay pat at #7 and package #15 and #19 to move up and grab Davis somewhere around #10 or #11. There's a ton of talk in the past couple days about the Nuggets shopping the #7 pick and it being widely available but in my experience most trade talk right near the draft is 100% weapons grade bolognium. Keeping #7 and packaging the other two first rounders to move up is the most realistic and least exciting scenario possible so naturally that's exactly what will happen.
Fiala: The Nuggets will ultimately wait things out at No. 7 and end up taking the best player available at that point. After Simmons and Ingram the next five picks are anybody's guess but I think the odd man out ends up being Dunn, Brown or Chriss. With the other two first-rounders, the Nuggets will either package them and move up to nab a big man or create some combination of keeping one and trading the other, possibly even for a pick in next year's draft..
Lewis: I think the Nuggets will trade one of their picks (7, 15, 19) and get a future first back as part of the deal. They'll use one of 15 or 19 on a draft-and-stash guy, possibly both, depending on what happens with the No. 7 pick. The late picks in the second round, one of them will be a player that played here in the United States, and the other will have a last name that ends with -ic. The Eastern European pipeline always delivers.
Blackburn: Unfortunately, there will be no Paul George trade, but it wouldn't surprise me if a trade of 7 + 15 or 19 to move up one or two spots to get a player we really want. We don't need three picks, so using them as sweeteners in a deal seems like exactly what should be done. We move up to select one of Murray, Hield, or Bender, and then select Deyonta Davis or Timothe Luwawu, depending on the first selection, at 15. Overall, I think we can handle two rookies, but three is pushing it unless the third guy is a late second round pick, and we have two. We probably sell those off, but realistically, Murray and Davis is my ideal draft, and it's incredibly realistic.
Olson: Ugh, this question seems the toughest to project in years, as the Nuggets have so much flexibility in a fluid market. Recent years have shown some surprises and turmoil on Draft Day, others have been as orderly and boring as a roll call. I don't pretend to know how it will all fall, simply by watching Emmanuel Mudiay fall into our laps last year. What I am pretty confident in? I'm confident that Tim Connelly will make the best of the situation. My best guess matches Stu Jackson's from yesterday... They take a solid player at 7 (whoever is left), and they package 15 and 19 for a contributor. I don't know if that's a starter, though. Hoping for another "I can't believe they got ____ there!"
Rowberry: Realistically I don't see anything major happening. I'd like to think the front office is going to allow the team and Malone to develop, this team is not ready to compete for the playoffs so giving up a slew of assets for a chance at the eighth seed makes little sense. I can see the 19th pick being traded but I fully expect to finish the draft happy to have Hield and Luwawu wearing powder blue.