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2020 NBA Draft: 3 prospects to trade up for

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The Nuggets could still improve their roster by moving up in the draft.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NBA Draft is now just two days away and the Denver Nuggets — who have the 22nd overall pick in the draft — have championship aspirations for the 2020-21 season after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season.

With only a $9.3 million mid-level exception and minimum contracts to offer free agents from opposing teams, the Nuggets may already looking to add talent to their roster by other means.

However, while trading for a player that’s already in the league is a distinct possibility, so is trading up for a prospect in the upcoming draft. Denver Stiffs has taken a look at three players who the Nuggets should have interest in on Nov. 18, should they be willing to move up one or multiple spots.

Devin Vassell, Florida State

Florida State wing Devin Vassell is one of the better prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft and is projected to be a lottery pick. He can have a long, productive NBA career because of the two main skills he possesses: perimeter shooting and impactful defense.

Per Game Table
Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2019-20 30 30 28.8 4.8 9.8 .490 1.5 3.5 .415 1.6 2.2 .738 1.3 3.8 5.1 1.6 1.4 1.0 0.8 12.7
Career 63 30 19.3 3.1 6.6 .475 1.1 2.7 .417 1.1 1.5 .720 0.8 2.4 3.2 1.1 1.0 0.6 0.6 8.4
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 11/16/2020.

Standing at 6’6” with a 6’10” wingspan, Vassell has great length as a wing and his physical profile is a strength of his when you factor in his athleticism.

Of course, Vassell uses this to his advantage defensively, where his instincts and motor already allow him to be an impactful player on that end. Offensively, it enhances his production in transition (1.41 points per possession), as a cutter (1.16 points per possession) and when crashing the offensive glass (1.21 points per possession).

There are going to be many that remember Vassell from a video that circulated showing a wonky shooting form that made it look like he had made an unnecessary and possibly troubling change to his mechanics.

However, Vassell says he’s made no change to his shooting form at all.

That should remove all concerns about the impact he can make in the league.

For a team with championship aspirations, the Nuggets’ have surprisingly few wings that fit the three-and-D archetype, unusual in it’s infrequency among recent champions. Vassell would join Gary Harris as the only wing who plays such a role in Denver.


Desmond Bane, TCU

Maturity is the buzzword when it comes to TCU’s Desmond Bane. Another player who can fit the three-and-D mold, Bane is also a solid ball-handler, finisher and facilitator.

Per Game Table
Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL TOV PTS
2016-17 39 13 20.7 2.6 5.1 .515 0.8 2.0 .380 1.1 1.4 .768 0.7 2.2 2.9 1.0 0.3 1.0 7.1
2017-18 33 32 30.5 4.4 8.2 .539 1.8 3.9 .461 1.9 2.5 .780 0.5 3.6 4.1 2.5 0.9 1.8 12.5
2018-19 37 37 35.5 5.8 11.6 .502 1.8 4.3 .425 1.8 2.0 .867 1.3 4.4 5.7 2.4 1.1 1.3 15.2
2019-20 32 32 36.0 6.2 13.6 .452 2.9 6.5 .442 1.4 1.8 .789 1.4 4.9 6.3 3.9 1.5 2.3 16.6
Career 141 114 30.3 4.7 9.4 .495 1.8 4.1 .433 1.5 1.9 .804 1.0 3.7 4.7 2.4 0.9 1.6 12.7
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 11/16/2020.

Although at 22, Bane isn’t the ideal age for teams looking to draft younger talent, his measurables (6’6” and 214 pounds but with a 6’4” wingspan) is the only concern that should concern anyone. That’s particularly true for a team like the Nuggets, who already have quite a few young players on the team.

Aside from being a skilled wing, Bane is a strong and fluid athlete that uses his experience, basketball IQ and motor to make a consistent impact.

Strangely, Bane is only considered a mid-to-late first round prospect; that likely is a factor of his age. However, there could be some smart team out there that tries to pick him up right outside of the lottery.

Perhaps Denver is that team. While not quite as athletic, Bane may already be the player that everyone thought Gary Harris would be — and four years younger at that.


Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama

19-year-old point guard Kira Lewis Jr. replaced current Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton as the lead man for the Alabama Crimson Tide after the latter was drafted eighth overall in 2018.

Over the last two seasons, Lewis has made a name for himself, securing SEC All-Freshman honors in 2018-19 and being named to the All-SEC first team in 2019-20. Interestingly, Lewis has a couple of distinct similarities to Sexton, namely their speed and tendency to be tested as pick-and-roll defenders.

Per Game Table
Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL TOV PTS
2018-19 34 34 31.6 4.6 10.7 .433 1.6 4.4 .358 2.6 3.4 .783 0.4 2.2 2.6 2.9 0.8 2.2 13.5
2019-20 31 31 37.6 6.6 14.5 .459 1.8 4.9 .366 3.4 4.2 .802 0.8 3.9 4.8 5.2 1.8 3.5 18.5
Career 65 65 34.5 5.6 12.5 .447 1.7 4.7 .362 3.0 3.8 .793 0.6 3.0 3.6 4.0 1.3 2.8 15.9
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 11/16/2020.

However, aside from being a threat in transition, Lewis has grown as a facilitator and spot-up shooter. Playing for a young team, Lewis could fit right in as a player who plays fast and attacks before defenses are set. As he develops and adds to his game, he could be a sixth man type scorer.

Defensively, Lewis has potential due to his quickness and length but he has a slight frame and isn’t always assertive. This is the biggest question for Lewis and could be the difference between him playing 12-15 minutes per game (or not at all) and 18-25 minutes per game.

This pick is more dependent upon how any potential trade talks that Denver has with the New Orleans Pelicans go than anything else, as Lewis’ best shot to be in the Nuggets rotation would be if backup point guard Monte Morris is included in a trade package for Jrue Holiday.

Lewis is currently projected to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round.