It’s that time again: NBA draft day. For your Denver Nuggets that means drafting a little lower than they’d like and hoping the right players fall to the team, but there are all sorts of things in play tonight. If you are not well-versed in draft minutae (or you’d like a refresher) here’s a run-down tonight’s expected happenings as well as some things to look for, Q&A style.
Q: What time is the draft?
It starts at 7 PM Eastern Time, 5 PM Mountain (1 AM in Serbia - come hang out).
Q: How long between picks?
In the first round teams have 5 minutes after the pick is announced to make their draft selection. In the second round, that drops to 2 minutes.
Q: What picks do the Nuggets have?
The Nuggets currently have their own natural selection at #13, as well as a pair of second-rounders at #49 and #51, obtained from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade for Joffrey Lauvergne last year.
Q: Can teams trade picks on draft night?
Yes, but unlike in the NFL the original team announces the selection and then later on the trade is announced. This creates awkward situations where a player is wearing one hat and being interviewed about his fit with that team but may not yet be sure if he is staying with that team. It happened with Doug McDermott in 2014 - he came out wearing a Nuggets cap but was shipped off for a pair of picks from Chicago that were turned into Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic. Just be aware.
Q: What is Denver looking for with their first pick?
An impact player and everyone will say “best player available” but they mean preferably at either the small forward position (referred to as the three) or the power forward position (the four), as those are positions that are not currently locked down with a young starter going forward. Because Juancho Hernangomez can play either position (depending on the rest of the rotation) the Nuggets have flexibility there. Coach Michael Malone has also stated a preference for adding defenders this offseason, but that’s on his Christmas wish list every year. The most common player referenced for Denver at forward until this week has been OG Anunoby, but other players like John Collins have been brought up in recent mocks.
Q: What about a backup center? After trading Jusuf Nurkic don’t they need one?
Mason Plumlee is a restricted free agent, so Denver retains his rights and just extended him a qualifying offer. That means they now have the right to match any offer he receives if they so choose. Denver could certainly take a backup center or combo center/power forward in the draft, and that might change what they are willing to pay to retain Plumlee. At #13 the only likely candidate for that would be Zach Collins out of Gonzaga, so if you hear his name called that will have a ripple effect on the rest of Denver’s offseason.
Q: Could the Nuggets trade up, and if so who would they target?
Absolutely. They have a lot of tradable players and picks and could certainly move up a few spots. Getting into the top-8 would require a lot of ammunition, though. They would almost certainly want Josh Jackson or Jonathan Isaac, but both of them should be top-6 players and it’s unlikely Denver will pay the price to move up that high to get them.
Q: Could the Nuggets trade back?
They could definitely do this too. There is a cutoff after the first 9 or so picks on my own draft board, as well as many others. If the Nuggets feel like the talent between 13 and whatever pick they might trade down to is relatively equal then they may move back to acquire more assets (like another pick next year) and still select a player they could have had in mind at 13 originally. That’s part of the chess game on draft night.
Q: Would Denver be willing to trade the pick and get out of the first round entirely?
Is Kristaps Porzingis available? What’s that, Phil Jackson says he is? Then yes, Denver is absolutely willing to part with its first-round pick to acquire an NBA player with a few years already under his belt.
Q: How about in the second round, what should I expect?
Well you should definitely expect Denver to select a European player. They have done that in every year that former GM (now President of Baskeball Operations) Tim Connelly has been with the Nuggets. You should also expect Denver to look for a defensive-minded bench player with some upside, as that fits the roster needs. It’s possible Denver could sell one of those picks (or try to package both to move up a little higher in the second round) but the valuable second round picks are in the early part of the round and these are late. *EDIT: as John Kobbeman points out in the comments, the Nuggets cannot sell their pick this year due to league rules capping the amount of money a team is allowed to receive for selling assets at $3.5 million, which Denver has already reached during the season. Thanks John!*
More likely, Denver will take both selections as long as one is a European pick that can be “stashed” overseas for a year to avoid a roster crunch.
Q: Will Denver Stiffs be covering the draft?
Denver Stiffs will have multiple reporters inside the Pepsi Center as well as a second set of writers feverishly typing up content all evening. There will be running news articles here all night, several Facebook Live broadcasts, and roundtable reactions after every pick or nugget of Denver news. We’ll have it all.
Follow us on twitter @Denverstiffs as well as individually per Adam’s handy tweet list below, and hit us up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/denverstiffs/ .
Ask any other questions you have in the comments, and enjoy the draft!