How pleased are you with the Nuggets top pick Jamal Murray?
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): It's an outstanding pick. Chris Dempsey says Murray was Denver's first choice with Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram off the board, and the rumor is Denver engaged in talks with the Boston Celtics to move up to #3. Murray would have been their guy regardless, and Denver didn't have to expend any extra capital to get him. He can shoot the daylights out of the ball and is a good secondary ball-handler. He's a mature kid and can grow with the rest of the young Nuggets. He's also familiar with several players on the team, having played Nike World Hoops with both Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic. Great fit, great kid, great talent. That's a nice trifecta. I don't know how Denver could have done much better at #7.
Zach Mikash (@Zach Mikash): Really couldn't have went any better for the Nuggets than having Murray fall to them at 7. It's really almost a repeat of last draft when Mudiay fell to 7. Murray said he wants to play the point but he fits so well next to Mudiay as a shooting guard and his ability to move off ball and catch and shoot makes them a natural pairing. There are certainly some concerns about athleticism and defense but Denver needed shooting more than anything and they got themselves a stud in Murray.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): I'm over the moon. Jamal Murray was probably my favorite player outside of Simmons or Ingram in this draft, and we got him at seven. WE GOT HIM AT SEVEN! A+ on this pick, and a great job by Tim Connelly understanding the draft board and knowing he didn't have to make a move up in the draft.
Evan Fiala (@eefiala): I'm ecstatic and giddy and everything else about this pick. I didn't think he would actually fall to 7 and that Denver would have to trade up to get him, but this is twice in a row now that extreme patience by Connelly has paid off big time. I couldn't be happier right now.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): Unbelievably pleased. I never expected Murray to be there at No. 7 but low and behold, he's a Denver Nugget. I didn't want to think it could happen so I wouldn't be let down, but now I'm thrilled. It's amazing that the Nuggets were able to get two great guards in back-to-back drafts. I think he's going to be amazing. I'm definitely watching every Summer League game possible.
Do you think Denver should have been more active in the trade market on draft night?
Gross: It's hard to be more active if nobody wants to trade (or everybody's pick is for sale). That makes it very tough to get proper value, and at that point you might as well take the players and work out a trade with the drafted players later if necessary. Sometimes the right pick is to take your picks and see what happens, despite Malone's protestations that he'd rather not add all those young players.
Mikash: It's funny, leading up to the draft everyone was saying the Nuggets can't add three rookies but then as Deyonta Davis started falling I really wanted Denver to move up and grab him as the fourth rookie, but alas it did not happen. Would I have liked to see a Kenneth Faried trade that netted us a big time player? Sure, but like Gordon pointed out, it takes two to tango and it looks like it just wasn't there. Connelly mentioned that the league is very risk averse right now so getting deals done is a difficult task. In the end the deal that was rumored, Denver moving up to #3, turned out to be entirely unnecessary as Connely told us the Nuggets had Jamal Murray as their third ranked prospect all along and still ended up getting him at 7.
Blackburn: To me, I don't think we are done this offseason making moves. If we add three rookies, and two at shooting guard, it spells trouble for Gary Harris or Will Barton to me. I know Connelly loves Barton, but on the current roster, I see his best value as a trade chip. Throwing him in with Faried and a future first round pick probably brings back an elite starting power forward, which is the only major need I see on this team.
Fiala: In hindsight, no, but a move for Nerlens Noel would've been pretty sick. I think Denver got all the guys they wanted and that's good enough for me, at least tonight. However, I think one thing was made very clear by some of the other trades made tonight by the Oklahoma City Thunder and yesterday by the Utah Jazz. If the Nuggets want to compete any time soon, which they do, they need to make a move or two for players that can complement the youth movement.
Lewis: No, especially since it seems like they got the players they wanted in the draft. Some of the players that could be traded in the coming years didn't need to be moved today. This wasn't a situation like last year where Ty Lawson should have been out of the door the minute after Mudiay was the pick, Connelly will have a lot of flexibility with roster moves throughout the season.
Who's one player the Nuggets didn't pick that you wish they had?
Gross: I would have taken Davis at 15, honestly, but that's just because I have seen more of him than of Juancho Hernangomez. The Nuggets were all-in on Juancho, though, and some places have listed him has the 4th-best player in this draft. If we didn't think he'd last until 19, then it makes lots of sense. I am fine with Hernangomez for many reasons, not least of which is because Connelly has earned his scouting bones with me and I'm not in a position to contradict him. Davis was just a nice defensive fit next to Jokic - that doesn't make him a better player than Juancho. Long live Juancho!
Mikash: I also would have liked Davis, or even Skal Labissiere (but I am glad I wont have to spell that name on every game preview in the future), but clearly their value was not where the Nuggets were picking. I'm also puzzled by the pick of Malik Beasley over Furkan Korkmaz, not that I have anything against Beasley but I figured if the Nuggets were going to go after another shooting guard they'd take a guy who they could stash overseas for a bit. With Beasley, Murray, Barton and Harris there is suddenly a log jam at the shooting guard position. Though Connelly has said that they don't expect Beasley to contribute right away and he is a long term selection. He also noted that Hernangomez may or may not come over this season.
Blackburn: My two guys were Murray and Davis. We had many opportunities to draft Davis tonight, but it was clear that shooting was the most important need. In order to combat teams like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, we have to bulk up on three point shooters to keep us in games. It's becoming increasingly clear that the plan is to surround Mudiay and Jokic with shooters. Murray, Beasley, and Hernangomez fit the bill, and Davis doesn't. That being said, his rim protection and defense would have been great at 19 instead of Beasley IMO.
Fiala: I would've liked Timothe Luwawu or Davis at 15, but I think Juancho isn't a bad pickup there at all considering he might not have been there at 19. I'm a bit jealous of the haul that Philly brought in because of that. In the end, though, I can't complain. The Nuggets needed better shooting and with Murray and Beasley they got it and Hernangomez will be a good player.
Lewis: I was surprised to see Beasley taken over Luwawu at 19. I think Beasley is a solid pick, but I think Luwawu has a higher ceiling and he also doesn't currently have a stress fracture in his leg. Hopefully Beasley can recover from that fully and be a more impactful defender. Shooting guard is a really crowded position for Denver now.
Overall how would you rate Tim Connelly's performance in the draft?
Gross: A. Nerves of steel. He made his offer to the Celtics but didn't feel like paying their price and called their bluff instead. Connelly got his guy - both his guys actually - and then drafted Beasley as either shooting insurance or in preparation for a trade. Don't sleep on Beasley - the kid could be a good one. In a draft where it looked like several teams stepped on landmines, Connelly skated on through with apparent ease.
Mikash: B+. Connelly did great addressing the #1 need, shooting, but he didn't pick up that bona fide rim protector to improve the Nuggets defensive woes. When I asked him about it he said both Beasley and Hernangomez could be very good defenders (he noted that Murray will likely struggle on D at first), but by his own admission neither is likely to contribute much to the team next season. Still, getting the guy you wanted all along and giving up nothing to get him is solid work. Shout out to Masai Ujiri as well for getting us that pick swap with the New York Knicks, Murray probably doesn't slide to 9 (of course the Sacramento Kings are insane so who knows).
Blackburn: A. Murray alone makes this class a B+ at it's floor, but Hernangomez and Beasley also add a dynamic that the Nuggets have never really seen. There can never be enough shooters on the roster, and there's something to be said for having players who can make shots. Will defense be a potential issue? Yes, but having another year to execute Michael Malone's schemes will probably be more impactful than any player drafted.
Fiala: A. Connelly killed it. He played his cards right and cashed in huge when Murray fell to 7, which alone makes this draft a raving success. Then he picked two really solid players at 15 and 19 while other teams blundered their way through the draft. Seriously, a lot of questionable selections were made but none by Connelly and I think the Nuggets are a better team after tonight than they were before which is all we could've hoped for.
Lewis: B. Murray was an obvious pick at 7, I only give Connelly credit for not panicking and moving up. Hernangomez projects to be a nice fit at power forward, but he isn't a rim protector and will likely be a rookie next season when the playoffs should be an expectation, not an ambitious goal. Beasley is a talented player, but I already explained how I feel about that selection. I think Petr Cornelie is a nice draft-and-stash late too, I had him ranked much higher than 53.
Given the players added in the Draft, who should be the Nuggets main target in free agency?
Gross: I think it's more likely to be a trade consolidation than a free agent at this point. With Denver apparently keeping all three first-round picks for now and possibly bringing all of them to training camp as well, there's not a lot of room for a free agent. A trade consolidation frees up some more roster space for young players. If they go the free agent route I would still be focused on getting a better backup PG than Nelson, so simply resigning D.J. Augustin could help address that for the long term. He can play with both Mudiay and Murray, and next to Harris for that matter. He doesn't help the defense but he does help the instant scoring, and based on this draft scoring was the biggest need Denver wanted to address. I'm still expecting a trade though - Connelly isn't done reshaping the roster yet.
Mikash: Suddenly I'm very interested in Bismack Biyombo, he gives the Nuggets a rim protector and he could play next to Jokic pretty well. Maybe you see if Joakim Noah has anything left in the tank as well. Regardless of the guy, Denver has to find some defense now and whether that's in free agency or through a trade like Gordon suggests, they need to get it done. Judging by Connelly's comments that he'd be shocked if the roster today is the same when they head into training camp, I'm guessing he gets it done.
Blackburn: The only guy I can really see here is Marvin Williams. As a power forward, he can defend small forwards and centers as well, and he shot the second highest percentage from three point range last season among power forwards at over 40 percent. That skill set pairs well with our current core, and the money needs to be spent somewhere. Williams would be a high quality player who could either start or come off the bench, and he would simply improve the team.
Fiala: I'm going to take an easy out here and agree with Gordon that I don't think free agency is the best option moving forward. I think the PF is now the Nuggets weakest spot (which with this depth is saying something) but simply put Faried isn't the solution here as a starter. If they can move him and get something back I would be happy. As far as free agents go, I'd re-sign Arthur for sure but if someone like Biyombo had any interest in playing here I'd throw a max at him too.
Lewis: Darrell Arthur. Unless the Nuggets plan on rolling with four-guard lineups around Nurkic and Jokic, they should make sure to bring back Arthur. I think Denver can bid farewell to Augustin, the backcourt hasn't been this crowded with talent in a while. Axel Toupane and Mike Miller are unlikely to return. There might be a competition between JaKarr Sampson and Joffrey Lauvergne, depending on if Sampson can play a combo forward role and if Nurkic is back to full health. The Nuggets have a pretty full roster at the moment, barring a trade of course. I'd be interested in Miles Plumlee, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks last season. He's an athletic big that can play the 4 and 5, similar to Lauvergne, but can do more defensively. He could be a great fifth big to roster.