The Nuggets are about to embark on a wonderful journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the home of bangers and mash, London, for an international game against the Indiana Pacers.

While the team is amidst the swirling discussions of trades, D-League roster moves, and genuinely awful defensive play on the court, a new year gives Nuggets fans an opportunity to talk about the one summer event that is guaranteed to be fun for the team – the draft.

While the 2016 draft didn’t have a lot of elite talent in the draft, but a good chunk of bench players, the 2017 draft has about a dozen or so players that I could potentially see being inserted into a starting lineup in their first season.

There are a lot of young players that are playing exciting basketball in the NCAA, and my rankings of players will only continue to change as the season progresses. There’s always players that separate themselves in conference play and the postseason tournaments. Who those players are, we’ll all have to wait to find out.

Here’s a much-earlier-than-last-year-wow-the-Nuggets-are-just-as-bad-this-year-as-last-year mock draft, with predictions on how I see the draft shaking out right now. As always, a disclaimer that there is a high probability that all these predictions are wrong. Please comment below if you agree/disagree of have a prospect you’d like me to keep an eye on going forward.

Pick Team Player, Position, Team Notes
1 Boston Celtics Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington from BRK
2 Philadelphia 76ers Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
3 Miami Heat Dennis Smith, PG, NC State
4 Minnesota Timberwolves Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
5 Dallas Mavericks Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
6 Phoenix Suns Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
7 Philadelphia 76ers Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky from LAL
8 New Orleans Pelicans Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
9 Denver Nuggets Frank Ntilikina, PG, Strasbourg
10 Sacramento Kings De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
11 Portland Trail Blazers Harry Giles, PF, Duke
12 Orlando Magic OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
13 Detroit Pistons Ivan Rabb, PF, California
14 New York Knicks Terrance Ferguson, SF, Adelaide
15 Washington Wizards Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
16 Chicago Bulls Monte Morris, PG, Iowa State
17 Milwaukee Bucks Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M
18 Charlotte Hornets Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
19 Indiana Pacers Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
20 Atlanta Hawks TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
21 Oklahoma City Thunder Alec Peters, SF, Valparaiso
22 Denver Nuggets Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova from MEM
23 Utah Jazz Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
24 Brooklyn Nets Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana from BOS
25 Toronto Raptors Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada from LAC
26 Toronto Raptors James Blackmon, SG, Oklahoma State
27 Houston Rockets Danjel Purifoy, SF, Auburn
28 Portland Trail Blazers Rodions Kurucs, SF, Barcelona from Cleveland
29 San Antonio Spurs Justin Patton, C, Creighton
30 Utah Jazz Kostja Mushidi, SG, Mega Leks from GSW

A few notes

  • If the Celtics get the No. 1 overall pick from the Nets, I have a strong feeling they would trade it. There are superstar players on teams that are middle-of-the-pack but need a point guard that should be willing to trade for Markelle Fultz. That’ll just give the Celtics more trade assets to work with in the future, guaranteeing that trade rumors will continue to leak out of New England faster than they can get plugged.
  • The Dallas Mavericks really need a point guard, but finding Markkanen at No. 5 is too tempting to pass on with Fultz, Ball and Smith off the board. Ideally, they’d get a crack at one of those three, but missing on all of them is the cost of not tanking.
  • It’s pronounced “nee-lee-KEE-nah,” get used to having to say that. He’s the son of Rwandan parents who grew up in Belgium. He’s 6’5” with a 7’0” wingspan. One of the point guards the Nuggets take will eventually click as the starter, right? If the Nuggets draft Ntilikina, they ought to waive/trade Nelson.
  • Milwaukee could wind up with a Giannis-Middleton-Parker-Williams-Maker lineup and wow, that’s a lot of length. Williams has a reported 7’3” wingspan and is blocking 5.1 shots per 40 minutes through 13 games.
  • TJ Leaf should be a good fill-in someday for Paul Millsap.
  • Mikal Bridges is a fun prospect to keep an eye on. If Juancho Hernangomez is going to be the power forward of the future, Bridges is a defensive forward that is also shooting 38 percent on 3-point attempts. He’s OG Anunoby without the hype and with the jumpshot.
  • The Raptors have the Clippers pick, and have to take a risk to get young contributors with both picks. They may have to pay Kyle Lowry a lot of money, and they’ll need as much depth as they can get. Oliver and Blackmon are high-risk, high-reward fliers that won’t be two years away from two years away on draft night.