Entering the 2017 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets were in desperate need of length and defense from the forward positions. With the addition of Tyler Lydon, they add neither length nor defense but rather a 6’10” power forward with a sweet outside shot and a lot of offensive upside.
Denver takes a Syracuse forward for the first time since...— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 23, 2017
First, let’s analyze how this went down. There were a lot of centers and guards projected in the middle of the first round of the draft and a lof of intruguing forwards in the 20’s so the Nuggets probably felt that they could get value by trading down. Utah was able to offer Trey Lyles in addition to the 24th pick and the Nuggets pulled the trigger.
Lyles was the 12th pick in the 2015 NBA draft and has had an underwhelming career in his two season with the Jazz. He has some unique talent and upside. He’s got a decent outside shot and some perimeter offensive skills. However, those skills haven’t developed nearly as well as most people would’ve hoped and he, like Emmanuel Mudiay, appears stagnant in his development. A change of scenery could provide some newfound motivation and confidence but at the moment, he feels more like a throw in than a useful piece.
Who knows if Lydon was the Nuggets preferred pick or if OG Anunoby, who was taken one spot ahead of the Nuggets by Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors, was their man. We’ll probably never know but most Nuggets fans seemed pretty set on Anunoby as a dream defensive specialist to pair with Jokic.
Lydon is as different from Anunoby as possible. Other than a knack for shot blocking, his defense is pretty sub-par. He is fairly stiff out on the perimeter, soft inside the paint, and gambles for steals far too frequently. He doesn’t appear to have a great feel on the defensive end, and that is factoring in the 1-3-1 style of defense that he played at Syracuse.
Offensively, he’s actually really impressive. He’s a career 40% three-point shooter on pretty high volume. He has excellent feel which is a stark contrast to his awful feel on defense. He moves well around the perimeter and, in addition to the efficiency, his shot just looks smooth. He has a solid post game and a knack for creating a mismatch whether he’s on the block or driving with the ball in his hands. He should fit well into a team that likes to move the ball, even if he isn’t an elite finisher through contact.
Offensively, Lydon should fit right in. Defensively...well, he should fit right in, but not in a good way.
Lastly, there is the issue of the Nuggets adding two power forwards onto a roster that already features Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur, two guys that play almost exclusively power forwrad. The Nuggets are also best with a stretch four, like Wilson Chandler or Juancho Hernangomez. And of course, the whole idea of trading for Mason Plumlee was so that the Nuggets could play him at power forward for a few minutes every game. So where do Lyles and Lydon fit in?
This pick seems pretty bizarre to me but, I must admit, that after three straight years of great draft picks, I’m content to trust Tim Connelly and company and at least give it a chance. Lydon will be fun to watch in summer league, especially when paired with Juancho and Malik Beasley, two great shooters. Unfortunately, that might be the only place we see him play for some time.
What grade do you give this pick?
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