The NBA Draft is finally here tomorrow night and the Denver Nuggets currently own the 26th overall pick. Up to this point in the draft process, the Nuggets have almost exclusively been mocked taking combo guards and wings. With Jamal Murray sidelined for the foreseeable future and Will Barton an unrestricted free agent, Denver needs more help on the wing than they do in the paint. Combine that with the fact that the Nuggets have been bringing in a lot of guards and wings for pre-draft workouts, and it’s fair to assume Denver will target one. On the contrary, Tim Connelly has a history of taking whom he believes is the best player available, regardless of position. We’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow night.

Since our last big board halfway through July, the team workout and interview process have both wrapped up and a pair of projected second round picks have withdrawn their draft eligibility. These aforementioned players are Ariel Hukporti and Roko Prkačin, the ladder of which may have actually snuck into the end of the first round. There’s been far less movement across internet boards and mocks than when the draft process began, but there’s still been steady stock fluctuation throughout the draft.

Current Rank Previous Rank Diff. Player Draft Age School/Team Position Ht. Wt.
1 1 Cade Cunningham 19.8 Oklahoma State Guard/Forward 6'8" 220
2 2 Evan Mobley 20.1 USC Big 7'0" 215
3 3 Jalen Suggs 20.2 Gonzaga Combo Guard 6'4" 205
4 4 Jalen Green 19.5 G League Ignite Wing 6'5" 178
5 6 1 Scottie Barnes 20 Florida State Forward 6'8" 227
6 5 -1 Jonathan Kuminga 18.8 G League Ignite Forward 6'7" 223
7 7 Davion Mitchell 22.9 Baylor Combo Guard 6'2" 205
8 8 Josh Giddey 19 Adelaide 36ers Guard/Forward 6'8" 216
9 9 Franz Wagner 19.9 Michigan Forward 6'9" 220
10 10 Moses Moody 19.2 Arkansas Wing 6'6" 205
11 11 Alperen Şengün 19 Beşiktaş J.K. Big 6'10" 243
12 12 Corey Kispert 22.4 Gonzaga Wing 6'7" 220
13 14 1 James Bouknight 20.9 UConn Wing 6'5" 190
14 13 -1 Keon Johnson 19.4 Tennessee Wing 6'5" 186
15 15 Jalen Johnson 19.6 Duke Forward 6'9" 215
16 16 Chris Duarte 24.1 Oregon Wing 6'6" 190
17 21 4 Jared Butler 21.9 Baylor Combo Guard 6'3" 190
18 17 -1 Usman Garuba 19.4 Real Madrid Forward 6'8" 229
19 19 Kai Jones 20.5 Texas Big/Forward 6'11" 218
20 18 -2 Jaden Springer 18.8 Tennessee Combo Guard 6'4" 204
21 24 3 Trey Murphy III 21.1 Virginia Wing 6'9" 199
22 22 Miles McBride 20.9 West Virginia Combo Guard 6'2" 200
23 20 -3 Isaiah Jackson 19.5 Kentucky Big 6'11" 206
24 23 -1 Ayo Dosunmu 21.5 Illinois Combo Guard 6'5" 200
25 25 Sharife Cooper 20.1 Auburn Lead Guard 6'1" 180
26 26 Tre Mann 20.5 Florida Combo Guard 6'5" 190
27 27 Ziaire Williams 19.9 Stanford Wing 6'9" 188
28 28 Quentin Grimes 21.2 Houston Guard/Wing 6'5" 205
29 31 2 Josh Christopher 19.6 Arizona State Wing 6'5" 215
30 29 -1 Cam Thomas 19.8 LSU Wing 6'4" 210
31 32 1 Joel Ayayi 21.4 Gonzaga Guard/Wing 6'5" 180
32 30 -2 JT Thor 18.9 Auburn Forward 6'10" 205
33 33 Josh Primo 18.6 Alabama Combo Guard 6'5" 189
34 41 7 Bones Hyland 20.9 VCU Combo Guard 6'3" 169
35 37 2 Kessler Edwards 22 Pepperdine Forward 6'8" 200
36 36 Day'Ron Sharpe 19.7 UNC Big 6'11" 265
37 39 2 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 20.7 Villanova Forward 6'9" 231
38 43 5 Herb Jones 22.8 Alabama Wing/Forward 6'8" 210
39 42 3 Aaron Henry 21.9 Michigan State Wing 6'6" 210
40 40 Neemias Queta 22 Utah State Big 7'0.5" 248
41 38 -3 Filip Petrušev 21.3 KK Mega Soccerbet Big 6'11" 225
42 35 -7 Charles Bassey 20.8 Western Kentucky Big 6'10" 239
43 48 5 B.J. Boston 19.7 Kentucky Wing 6'7" 185
44 50 6 Isaiah Todd 19.8 G League Ignite Forward 6'10" 199
45 52 7 Rokas Jokubaitis 20.7 BC Žalgiris Lead Guard 6'4" 194
46 45 -1 Jason Preston 22 Ohio Combo Guard 6'4" 181
47 46 -1 Joe Wieskamp 21.9 Iowa Wing 6'7" 205
48 51 3 David Johnson 20.4 Louisville Combo Guard 6'5" 210
49 47 -2 Greg Brown III 19.9 Texas Forward 6'9" 205
50 49 -1 Isaiah Livers 23.4 Michigan Forward 6'7" 230
51 44 -7 Daishen Nix 19.5 G League Ignite Lead Guard 6'5" 227
52 56 4 Juhann Bégarin 19 Paris Basketball Wing 6'5" 192
53 N/A Vrenz Bleijenbergh 20.8 Port of Antwerp Giants Wing/Forward 6'10" 200
54 54 McKinley Wright IV 22.8 Colorado Lead Guard 6'0" 192
55 55 Sam Hauser 23.6 Virginia Forward 6'8" 217
56 N/A Jericho Sims 18.7 Texas Big 6'9" 210
57 57 Matthew Hurt 21.3 Duke Forward 6'9" 235
58 58 Trendon Watford 20.7 LSU Forward 6'9" 237
59 59 David Duke Jr. 21.8 Providence Guard/Wing 6'5.5" 204
60 N/A Aaron Wiggins 22.6 Maryland Wing 6'5" 190

Rumors have began to circulate that the Nuggets are interested in trading up in the draft, but there’s no clear indication of the range they may be targeting other than “top 20”. While the draft appears to be very deep and I’d support taking whomever falls to them, I also understand the desire to ensure they select a prospect they simply can’t miss out on. Given Denver’s current assets that I believe they’d be willing to part with to move up in the draft, I’d guess that the best pick they’d be able to net would be in the 15-20 range.

Below are four players that I would consider best case scenarios if they are available when Denver is on the clock tomorrow night. Some are certainly less likely than others, but much crazier things have happened. They all not only appear to fit the culture in Denver, but can also potentially fill an area of need. Prospects such as Chris Duarte and Jared Butler only did not qualify because I don’t see a scenario where either one falls to 26. If Denver does find a way into the middle of the draft, those two, as well as Corey Kispert and Davion Mitchell, would be my ideal targets.

Six Best Fits

Rank 20 – Jaden Springer, Combo Guard, Tennessee

The Nuggets lack of elite defensive options at guard was clear in both their playoff series this past season. While PJ Dozier is a very solid option, he is more of a versatile defender than a pure guard stopper. Regardless, I’m of the belief that you can never have too many two-way players, especially with such an offensively oriented core of young talent. It may be a few years before Jaden Springer actually becomes a positive defender, but his effort and athleticism could be enough to make him at least serviceable as her enters the league. If the jumper is legitimate and his unconventional playmaking style continues to develop, Springer would be a welcome addition to Denver’s backcourt.

Rank 21 – Trey Murphy III, Wing, Virginia

The only non-guard in my top six, Trey Murphy III has too many translatable skills for me to not see him having a long NBA career. He has elite size for a wing and while there are valid rebounding and aggression concerns, I attribute those more to Trey simply trying to play the role being asked of him. He doesn’t gamble for many steals or blocks, but Trey is also sound defensively and has the potential to defend 1-4 effectively in the NBA. He may be the least likely of the six prospects to still be on the board when the Nuggets make their selection, but if he were to start slipping, I highly doubt he would make it past Denver at 26.

Rank 22 – Miles McBride, Combo Guard, West Virginia

Miles McBride is in a very similar mold to Jaden Springer. Although, with an additional year of college hoops experience, Miles appears to be slightly more of a completed product and less reliant on further development than Jaden is. McBride provides more reliable playmaking while having similar athletic gifts. Due to the fact that he has been getting selected before Denver’s pick in the vast majority of recent mock drafts, they may have to trade up into the late teens, early 20’s to acquire him. Depending on the cost, I would more than likely be a fan of the acquisition.

Rank 24 – Ayo Dosunmu, Combo Guard, Illinois

I realize I am higher on Ayo Dosunmu than most and he will, in all likelihood, still be available if the Nuggets keep the 26th pick. I look at this as a positive, however, and it actually demonstrates why I lean more against trading up in the draft. Their are so many similar level prospects in the 15-40 range that “settling” for whomever is still available hardly actually feels like “settling”. I see a lot of Will the Thrill’s game in Dosunmu and for all of Barton’s detractors, Denver would miss a lot of what he brought if he were to move on in free agency. This isn’t to say Dosunmu is a lock to have an instant impact similar to Will Barton’s level, but he would still make sense for this team regardless.

Rank 28 – Quentin Grimes, Guard/Wing, Houston

Quentin Grimes has a confidence level that at times tows the line of rationality. For this reason he would fit in perfectly with the likes of Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray and Markus Howard, who all bring this same irrational confidence to varying degrees. I would never complain about giving Nikola Jokic another shooting threat of Grimes’ caliber and I believe he’s excellent value at 26th overall. Short term, he can provide a scoring spark off the bench with solid defense. Long term, he has starting potential at either shooting guard or small forward.

Rank 29 – Josh Christopher, Guard/Wing, Arizona State

Yet another defensive minded wing/guard, but this time with a less reliable jumper. Josh Christopher makes up for the shaky outside stroke with a premier level of athleticism. I would also argue he has the highest defensive ceiling of any of the prospects I’ve mentioned. He may be purely a finisher and defensive specialist at the moment, but that could be enough to carve out a role in the league. At just 19 years old with only 15 games of college hoops experience, there’s plenty of untapped potential.

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