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Denver Nuggets GM Tim Connelly: The Gambler

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You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run

NBA: Denver Nuggets-Media Day Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

I have cursed profusely at Tim Connelly in front of large groups of people. Sorry, Tim. Fortunately, he was not have in attendance, and my fellow bus passengers may have simply thought me one of several folks having the occasional sporadic cursing outburst. Connelly had passed on the guy I was hoping he’d take with the 11th pick in Gary Harris, instead taking sharpshooter Doug McDermott, who had not been someone any of the pundits had thought a wise move for Denver. I was confused.

Connelly took a gamble that year. He swapped McDermott for the 16th and 19th picks, and Harris was still on the board at 16. He’d picked up an extra pick, and kept the guy I’d really wanted. I was impressed. Until the sonuva——- decided to skip on Harris again, taking a raw young center named Jusuf Nurkic. While I was incensed, Connelly realized that the teams picking between 16 and 19 had dire needs for a center, but no needs for a shooting guard. When the 19th pick rolled around, Harris was still there to be had, and Connelly had landed quite a haul, and great value. My cursing and screaming had been a product of my own impatience, and the return Connelly got on those two first rounders (and a second rounder that year we’ve not even mentioned in Nikola Jokic) proved to be impressive. He’s had pretty strong drafts in each of the two seasons following that as well. Until...

Geez, after this recent go-round you’d have thought Connelly drafted a broken rototiller and a bag of rocks with some of the broad reaction amongst the Nuggets faithful. Admittedly, the picks seemed to shore up areas where there weren’t needs, and skip areas of concern. Had Stiffs darling OG Anunoby slid one more pick, it would have been interesting to have seen the difference in reaction, had Connelly been able to trade down 11 picks and still get his man (if Anunoby actually was). Tim might have been heralded yet again with that one minor shift.

That reaction seems particularly strong when contextualized as being about young players who have little chance of cracking the starting or primary backup rotation(s) this upcoming season. As raw and unknown as Tyler Lydon and trade pickup Trey Lyles are, it could be interesting to see how either fits into the Nuggets scheme as they mature. Are either known defenders? No. Are we stocked at that position? Absolutely. Lydon and Lyles have both shown themselves to be skilled young players, and it may have been a little rough reading Denver draft-night coverage to find that they were part of a “debacle”.

And that all assumes the two young forwards remain with the team by season’s start. Or that anyone shy of Jokic, Harris, and Jamal murray do, for sure. Though the Nuggets now seem roster-heavy at two positions, they are fortunate in that they don’t have a basketball game to play as a team until preseason in October. There’s a fair bit of offseason to go. With trading kicking off with a bang yesterday with Chris Paul’s trade to Houston, the Nuggets find themselves a team oft-mentioned in trade rumors and possibilities, like bringing Kevin Love to the Mile High City. Denver could/should have a vastly different makeup by the time the team is suiting up.

It was apparent in his post-draft statements that things didn’t break exactly as Connelly would have liked them to when the night began, but he also sounded as if he felt there were opportunities still to be had with the cards that he had been dealt. It’s an interesting-to-strange hand he’s currently holding, and should this be the team that takes the floor in October, I’m betting that Nuggets fans won’t be the only ones with questions. But Connelly has shown a propensity in the past for having an ace or two up his sleeve. Maybe he just knows when to hold ‘em when he’s not perfectly happy with the hand until something breaks. Let’s just hope that he knows when to walk away, and has no plans to run anytime soon.

Poll

Tim Connelly’s most recent draft was:

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A gamble that didn’t pay off
    (209 votes)
  • 19%
    Not as bad as everyone made it out to be
    (180 votes)
  • 18%
    A debacle
    (166 votes)
  • 3%
    Pretty exciting for the future of the team
    (32 votes)
  • 34%
    Undecided. Let’s see what he does with trades or signings
    (315 votes)
  • 0%
    Something I’ll tell you more about below
    (3 votes)
905 votes total Vote Now