It’s time for the NBA playoffs to begin, and that means for the Nuggets, it’s time to focus on the NBA draft (for at least one more year, we hope).
The Nuggets won 46 games and missed the playoffs, a historical finish that shows how tough the Western Conference is. With the No. 14 pick in the draft, they’ll have a 0.5 percent chance at getting a top three pick - which means they’ll be picking at No. 14 in the first round, and at No. 43 and 58 in the second round.
I can almost guarantee one of those second round picks will be a draft-and-stash player or get traded - the Nuggets don’t have a G-League team or the roster space to add three players. I would also not be surprised if Denver traded down in the first round again. This time however, they’d be dumping salary in order to move down into the 20-30 range. I would approve of that move, because the Nuggets need cap space more than they need the No. 14 pick.
The Nuggets own their own draft pick this year in the first round. They owe their second round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers, due to a series of trades that’s actually pretty interesting to follow.
Denver traded their 2018 pick to the Utah Jazz, and received the Warriors 2018 pick as well as Randy Foye in the Andre Iguodala transaction. The Jazz then moved that pick to the Chicago Bulls as part of a three-team trade in exchange for Shelvin Mack in February of 2016. The Bulls then flipped that pick to the Lakers after the 2016 draft in a salary dump, moving Jose Calderon to Los Angeles for Ater Majok, who will likely never play in the NBA. In the end, the Nuggets 2018 second round pick was involved in transactions with five different teams.
The Nuggets also will receive the less favorable second round pick from Portland or Sacramento (less favorable to Denver, not either of those teams). The Nuggets have rights to that pick, in a series of transactions that began with the Tyreke Evans trade from Sacramento to New Orleans. Portland sent a second round pick to Sacramento that ended up being Malcolm Brogdon, who won Rookie of the Year with Milwaukee. The conditional nature of the pick was due to a prior trade, and Denver received the rights to the pick as part of the Mason Plumlee trade.
Here are some key dates for the 2018 draft:
April 22 - NBA draft early entry eligibility deadline.
May 15 - draft lottery in Chicago, Illinois.
May 16-20 - NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Illinois.
June 11 - NBA draft early entry entrant withdrawal deadline.
June 17 - latest possible date for the NBA Finals
June 21 - NBA draft.
I have my opinion on positions the team may need to address in the draft, but I do want to approach the draft prospect watch season with an open mind, so if you have a player you’d like me to watch, let me know. I’ll be putting out more in-depth analysis of players as the season goes on, but those won’t come out for a while since I’ll need time to watch the players in actual games so I can form an educated opinion.
If you’re bored, here’s the first 2018 Big Board. There will be more versions of the Stiffs Big Board as the draft approaches. We’ll also keep you posted on workouts, and continue to write prospect breakdowns.
With no further delay, here is the 2018 Stiffs Big Board 2.0:
2018 Stiffs Big Board 2.0
|1||Luka Dončić||SG||Real Madrid|
|3||Jaren Jackson Jr.||PF||Michigan State|
|6||Miles Bridges||SF||Michigan State|
|7||Michael Porter Jr||SF||Missouri|
|16||Robert Williams||C||Texas A&M|
|17||Zhaire Smith||SG||Texas Tech|
|18||Lonnie Walker IV||SG||Miami|
|20||Troy Brown Jr.||SG||Oregon|
|21||Landry Shamet||PG||Wichita State|
|24||Dzanan Musa||SF||Cedevita Zagreb|
|28||Chandler Hutchison||SF||Boise State|
|29||Keita Bates-Diop||SF||Ohio State|
|30||Josh Reaves||SG||Penn State|
|32||Isaac Bonga||SF||Frankfurt Skyliners|
|37||Jevon Carter||PG||West Virginia|
|39||Shamorie Ponds||PG||St. Johns|
|42||Goga Bitadze||C||Mega Bemax|
|47||Justin Simon||SG||St. Johns|
|55||Dino Radoncic||SF||Real Madrid|
|56||Borisa Simanic||PF||FMP Beograd|
|58||Josh Okogie||SG||Georgia State|
|59||Gary Trent Jr.||SG||Duke|
It was time to move Mikal up. I’m high on Mikal Bridges, so I figured, “Why not just move him into the top 5?” I have questions about Bagley, Bamba, Porter III, and Young, so once I thought about it, moving Mikal up to four wasn’t that tough of a call. I’ve been on board for a few seasons, and I’m excited to see him play in the NBA. Summer League can’t get here soon enough.
So many wings. The NBA needs more playmakers and players that can play defense. With the influx of skilled players, guys that can defend multiple positions have a ton of value. If you can dribble, pass, and shoot, that’s even better. There aren’t going to be a ton of bigs on my big boards, because if you can’t defend the rim or rebound like a monster, you can’t make it. Hustling isn’t going to be enough in five years as a generation of players enters the league that grew up watching LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant play basketball.
This board will change after June 11. As players get a sense of where they’ll get picked, some of the players that haven’t signed with an agent will drop out. While I’ll wish the Nuggets could take a flier in the second round on a guy like Shamorie Ponds or Josh Okogie, if they go back to school, I’ll still keep an eye on them. I’ll keep them on my board for now.