As the Denver Nuggets look to cross the finish line in their final steps toward championship contention, it becomes important to seek out all avenues to become a better team every single year. The Nuggets don’t have many of the luxuries of larger markets to attract star free agents to the city of Denver, and that divide between large market and not large market forces teams like the Nuggets to work harder, to get creative in how best to add to the team long term. The NBA Draft is one such way, and 2020 may be one of Denver’s final chances to add a foundational prospect to a long list of players the Nuggets have selected in previous seasons.
Here at SB Nation, Denver Stiffs is taking part in a Blogger Mock Draft. All participating SB Nation affiliated blogs have conducted a 2020 mock draft that includes the first round of picks. There were no trades involved, meaning the Nuggets were locked into their lone first round selection at 22nd overall.
There were many ways that Denver Stiffs could have gone with this selection, but given the way the mock draft unfolded, the answer became easier as time went on.
Here’s a link to the full SB Nation NBA Blogger Mock Draft.
With the 22nd pick in the 2020 Blogger Mock Draft, the Denver Nuggets select Tyler Bey, Forward out of the University of Colorado.
The final decision came down to Bey and Josh Green of Arizona. Both would be excellent picks for a Nuggets team looking to improve defensively, but the Stiffs decided to select the local product out of CU due to his elite physical tools, strong rebounding, and defensive versatility.
Standing officially at 6’7” in shoes and weighing 212.8 pounds with a 7’1.25” wingspan, according to the NBA Combine results, Bey is the prototypical size for a wing defender in today’s NBA. In his junior season, Bey won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award over USC’s Onyeka Okongwu with his combination of rebounding, perimeter defense, and shot blocking ability. With averages of 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game at the power forward position, Bey showed the ability to be impactful without being a scorer or playmaker on the offensive side of the floor.
Offensively, Bey was a leaper above the rim who threw down a ton of dunks. When he wasn’t dunking or rebounding misses, he was spending the majority of his other possessions around the mid-range, often taking jumpers at a relatively inefficient rate. Bey occasionally stepped back to three-point range, but after shooting just 18-of-59 (30.7%) during his three years at CU, there are definitely questions about whether his jumper will ever translate to the NBA three-point line. His career 74.7% free throw percentage would suggests that he has potential to make it work.
There weren’t a ton of other skills that Bey showed in college, but there were flashbulb plays that should give NBA teams a lot to think about on draft night, such as the game-winning pass he made below against Dayton this past year.
Anyone who can make THAT pass in THAT situation, even if it’s just a flash skill that doesn’t show up every game, has the capacity to improve if given an opportunity. It’s possible that Bey may never become a legitimate playmaker for others at the next level, but plays like that are a great example of why never to rule it out completely.
Bey’s fit with the Nuggets organization becomes more clear once the Nuggets commit to a direction regarding Jerami Grant. If Grant returns to Denver as is believed to be the case, then he and Michael Porter Jr. will most likely start for the Nuggets at the two forward spots heading into next season. Who backs up those two is definitely a question mark, as both Torrey Craig and Paul Millsap are free agents this offseason while both Gary Harris and Will Barton project to play more shooting guard going forward. Keita Bates-Diop and Vlatko Čančar are both expected to be back in reserve roles, but it’s unknown whether the pair will be ready to step into the rotation next season.
Bey would represent some needed insurance at forward as the Nuggets figure out what to do with the rest of the roster. While Bey definitely needs to develop his three-point shot, there are aspects of his game that are NBA ready, such as his rebounding, defensive effort/instincts, and his transition offense. If the Nuggets had to rely upon Bey for rotation minutes next year, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. If it works, there’s also some upside in throwing him into a lineup featuring Jamal Murray, Porter, Grant, and Nikola Jokić. His versatility as a 6’7” wing would offer the 2020-21 Nuggets some switch-ability, similar to Andre Iguodala, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari on the 2012-13 Nuggets.
Overall, Nuggets fans should be excited if Bey is selected. On top of all of his talents, Bey is also a local college standout. The state of Colorado deserves some camaraderie between college and professional basketball again, and while Bey may not be Chauncey Billups, the King of Park Hill, he’s still an outstanding CU player that would be accepted with open arms and draw cheers locally.
He represents the ideal selection in the 2020 SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft.