The Nuggets season ended on Wednesday with a 111-105 win over the Thunder, capping the 2016-17 season with a victory to bring their record to 40-42.
That’s a seven game improvement over the previous season, and a sign of the progress the team was able to make. Nikola Jokic became a player the franchise can build around, Jamal Murray showed glimpses of a bright future, Gary Harris took a big leap, and the Nuggets veterans were able to teach the young players some valuable lessons.
It’s been four months since the first mock draft of 2017 came out (I apologize for nothing). Since then, the Nuggets traded their extra first round pick in the 2017 draft, and dropped into the lottery by finishing ninth in the Western Conference.
The draft process is underway, with prospects declaring for the draft, hiring agents and attending workouts. You know we’ll keep you posted on what the Nuggets do in preparation for the draft here at Denver Stiffs. Be sure to come back as well for updated Big Boards from Ryan Blackburn and myself, as well as a few more mock drafts before that wonderful June evening.
As always, a disclaimer that there is a high probability that all these predictions are wrong. The draft order is also unofficial - for example, four teams finished with a 51-31 record, and I don’t know how those tiebreakers will sort out (I have placed Portland last in that group though, because rivalries). 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||Phoenix Suns||Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke|
|3||Los Angeles Lakers||Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA|
|4||Philadelphia 76ers||Malik Monk, SG, Duke|
|5||Orlando Magic||De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky|
|6||New York Knicks||Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas|
|7||Minnesota Timberwolves||Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Frank Ntilikina, PG, Strasbourg|
|9||Dallas Mavericks||Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State|
|10||Sacramento Kings||Rodions Kurucs, SF, Barcelona||from NOP|
|11||Charlotte Hornets||Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga|
|12||Detroit Pistons||Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State|
|13||Denver Nuggets||OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana|
|14||Miami Heat||Harry Giles, PF, Duke|
|15||Chicago Bulls||Luke Kennard, SG, Duke|
|16||Portland Trail Blazers||Justin Patton, C, Creighton|
|17||Indiana Pacers||Terrance Ferguson, SF, Adelaide|
|18||Milwaukee Bucks||Jarrett Allen, C, Texas|
|19||Portland Trail Blazers||Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville||from MEM|
|20||Atlanta Hawks||TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Jawun Evans, PG, OK State|
|22||Brooklyn Nets||Borisa Simanic, PF, Serbia||from WAS|
|23||Utah Jazz||Josh Hart, SG, Villanova|
|24||Orlando Magic||Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina||from TOR|
|25||Toronto Raptors||Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova||from LAC|
|26||Portland Trail Blazers||Bruce Brown, SG, Miami||from CLE|
|27||Brooklyn Nets||Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky||from BOS|
|28||Los Angeles Lakers||Justin Jackson, SF, UNC||from HOU|
|29||San Antonio Spurs||Wesley Iwundu, SF, Kansas State|
|30||Utah Jazz||Tyler Lydon, SF, Syracuse||from GSW|
The night the lottery order is determined will be fascinating. Will the Nuggets get their first ever No. 1 pick? Will the Lakers move out of the top three and send their pick to Philadelphia? Will the Kings win the lottery, only to swap their pick with the 76ers? Will the league toss another No. 1 pick to the Timberwolves?
I don’t know how the Celtics (assuming they get the first pick) can pass on Fultz, even with Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics don’t have the pieces to take their play to the next level, and Fultz could be that piece. He’s a better overall player than Josh Jackson or Lonzo Ball, and that’s what the Celtics need.
Speaking of Josh Jackson, I think he could slide to the Knicks, and here’s why. The Suns need help on the wing, but need someone that can score. They can put Tatum alongside Chriss and Booker, and be set at those three positions. If Dragan Bender can become a thing, then the Suns just need a starter at point guard (it’s not Tyler Ulis). That’s a good position to be in.
De’Aaron Fox is amazing. Favorite point guard in the draft for me. He’s a blur, incredible on defense, makes smart plays, and just needs to add a 3-point shot. Good luck stopping him in transition.
I love the fit of Markkanen in Minnesota and Isaac in Dallas. If Tom Thibodeau can have an elite defense with Carlos Boozer, he can do it again with Markkanen, who is an elite shooting prospect. If Dallas can sign Nerlens Noel to a new contract, they’re just a point guard away from being great again. A Noel-Isaac-Barnes frontcourt is not a bad way to move on from the Nowitzki era in a couple years.
I have Dennis Smith Jr. sliding as well, although I could see the Kings taking him. I think he’s better than Lonzo Ball (I want nothing to do with Lavar’s son) but am worried that his off-court problems will lower him on draft boards. Getting with Stan Van Gundy in Detroit should be a good landing spot for him, and could be the piece they decide to rebuild around when they eventually blow up their roster.
If OG Anunoby is on the board when Denver picks at 13 (if they don’t move up), I think the Nuggets have to take him, offensive woes and injury concerns be damned. They have their backcourt settled with Murray, Harris, Mudiay and Beasley. They have their center position figured out. They can roll with Faried, Arthur, and whatever small forward they retain this summer in Chandler or Gallinari. They desperately need defenders, and Anunoby has the best chance at developing into that role at this position (especially if Mikal Bridges stays at Villanova). If the Nuggets can’t get Anunoby, they could make a run in free agency at Andre Roberson or James Johnson, and I’d be fine with that.
With the Memphis pick, I have the Trail Blazers taking Donovan Mitchell, a 3&D wing from Louisville. Before crying out “The Nuggets could of had this pick!” I think that Malik Beasley will be much better than Mitchell. Beasley can defend and rebound at a similar level, but is a better athlete and more talented scorer. Instead of them fighting for minutes, the Nuggets can just focus on developing Beasley. At this point in the draft, teams are drafting backups with the hope that someday they’ll be contributors - Beasley can play, Denver is fine with him on their roster.
I think the Nets are in a good place to take chances on guys late in the draft. It’s not like they’ll be competitive for a few years, so gambling on Simanic and finding a solid center prospect in Adebayo is a great haul for them.
I don’t get the Justin Jackson hype. He’s an old wing prospect that is a streaky shooter, an inconsistent defender, and doesn’t share the ball. Plus, the Lakers already were able to grab Lonzo Ball - why not take two busts?
I think my favorite value pick is Jackson to the Knicks. If they’re serious about the triangle, Jackson can defend, pass, and I think he’ll be an average shooter eventually. His athleticism should play really well alongside Kristaps Porzingis as well. But if the Knicks bring Derrick Rose back, they’ll be in the top-5 of the lottery next season, especially if they trade Carmelo Anthony. That franchise is a mess.
Instead of mocking all 60 picks, I’ll just list a few sleepers I think the Nuggets could be looking at with their two picks. With their first round pick, they’re at minimum going to have 12 players under contract next season. Add in Mike Miller and Mason Plumlee, that jumps to 14. So barring a trade or roster move, there is a high probability they either trade one of their second round picks or take a player they can stash in Europe. Who knows, maybe they’ll move it for cash assets?
Deonte Burton - I love this kid. Short and stout, he’s really strong and he’s a competitor. He’s had to deal with four different head coaches in four years of college basketball, and I think that if he can get some consistency at that position, he could bloom. If Will Barton is a Corvette, Burton is a F-350. It’d be nice to see the Nuggets draft someone that has the kind of ass built for boxing out for defensive rebounds.
Alpha Kaba - A big man prospect that plays for Mega Leks? He screams “Future Denver Nugget.” He has elite wingspan, has the height and weight to play center, but needs seasoning before he could even be considered for a NBA roster. He has a great basketball name though.
Chris Boucher - He’s old, coming off an ACL tear, but boy is he exciting. Another center prospect, he’s skinny as a reed. He’s a 100 block-30 3PM prospect, a rare combination of skills. If he ever gets strong enough to play, maybe he’s worth the gamble.
Sterling Brown - I mean, why not take a flier on a 3&D wing that can dribble and pass?