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Denver Nuggets Draft Day History: The Rorschach test

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Your favorite team’s draft history is a little... spotty. Will the guys in charge be able to keep with their own positive track record?

I see the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man?

It feels sweaty in here. Does anyone else feel sweaty in here?

Draft day is upon us, Nuggets Nation, with that sense of anticipation and perspiration that always accompanies #NuggLife. Be sure to tell your family, friends, and co-workers today that you don’t mean to be tense, dense, irritable, or humid. It’s just a seasonal allergy to PTSD.

Things have looked (primarily) sunnier on the whole for draft days under the current front office, but even with improvements, there have been a few hiccups along the way. Here’s a few gentle reminders of the good, bad, and ugly of Denver Nuggets Draft Day.

The Bad

The Bottom Tier: The Nuggets have seen some questionable moments along the last five decades, with names like Mamadou N’Diaye, Tony Battie, Efthimi Rentzias, and Carl Nicks amongst the first-round picked names all but forgotten by everyone but hardcore fans. It’s one thing to miss on the second-rounders, but three of the above names came in a five-year stretch of first-round troubles that then capped off with...

The Lowest Low: Few Denver fans have ever forgotten the name Nikoloz Tskitishvili, the fifth pick of the 2002 Draft. Skita never caught fire with the Nuggets, Warriors, Timberwolves, or Suns in the four seasons he spent in the league, and is still oft-reported as being amongst the biggest busts in league history. Reports often have it that Denver had barely seen footage of Nikoloz when drafting him, without an in-person viewing. The saving grace of the ‘02 Draft was picking up Nene in a quick trade.

The Ugly

The ones that got away: Let’s not dwell on Rudy Gobert (2013) or Donovan Mitchell (2017) any longer than we have to. Shake it off, everybody. Let’s just move on to the upside of this equation.

The Good

The Golden Nuggets: Thankfully, there is a longer list of upside to dwell on, and not just from an upswing amongst the current regime. Dotting the Nuggets first-round history are names such as LaPhonso Ellis, Bryant Stith, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Raef LaFrentz, and Kenneth Faried. The list fills out nicely with the current Nuggets squad members, with Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and a certain special center amongst what appear to be sure things. Should any one of the trio of Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, or Monte Morris become another key piece, you’d have to admire what the current front office has done on Draft Day.

Best of the Best, current title holder: There’s little debating the impact that the third pick in the 2003 Draft. Carmelo Anthony and his epic cornrows brought immediate prosperity back to the Mile High City. From his rookie season on, the Nuggets made the playoffs in every single season Melo played for the team, peaking with a Western Conference Finals appearance along the way.

Best of the Best, up and comer: 11 years and 38 picks after Melo came the new nexus of Nuggets Nation. Nikola Jokic has energized the hopes and dreams of Denver hopefuls like no one since Anthony. The Joker is a player unique in both team and league history, and Denver has yet to see the playoffs with Nikola at the helm. Should Jokic realize his full potential in Nuggets blue, the apogee of this arc may look very different a dozen years from now.

But with all of the admiration for Tim Connelly and the rest of the crew working tirelessly for Draft Day, there are still a few misses amongst the hits, and last season left the larger fanbase fairly flat. Should Tim and Co. have another tepid Thursday, Denver could find itself trying to get into the dance with the same card they narrowly missed with last season. It’s tough to nail the pick at 14, but Connelly did it once at 41. Here’s hoping there’s a little more magic in today’s outcome. Ready or not, here it comes, Nuggets Nation. What do the blotches look like to you?

Poll

I think today’s outcome will be:

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Positive. This front office has a pretty solid history, and the pieces to make something good happen.
    (79 votes)
  • 10%
    Negative. Last season was more the norm than the outlier, and we’re too far down to get much value.
    (16 votes)
  • 38%
    Hit or miss. Hard to say, with as much noise as is floating around this year, and everyone is trying to make a deal.
    (62 votes)
  • 1%
    None of the above.
    (2 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now