clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 NBA Draft Mailbag: draft night is just one week away

New, comments

Answering Nuggets fans questions just one week from the 2021 NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Baylor vs Gonzaga Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like a blur with the NBA season finishing up just two nights ago, but the draft is already upon us just one week from tonight. The Denver Nuggets are currently slated to draft at 26th overall and should have no shortage of prospects to choose from.

There is a number of different directions the Nuggets could go with this pick, but adding a contributor who can play as early as next season has to be priority number one. Luckily for Denver there are a ton of good players in this years class, especially at the guard position.

With uncertainly surrounding Will Barton and his future with the team after declining his player option last week, the Nuggets may be able to draft his replacement next Thursday night. Even if the Nuggets do re-sign Barton — which Woj and Shams report both sides have mutual interest in a return — Denver could still use more depth at shooting guard, point guard, and even small forward.

With that being said, there are a ton of ways the Nuggets could go with this pick. They could draft an instant contributor — which is the route I would go — or they could do what they’ve done in the past and draft someone with upside that might not be ready to play in year one. So, let’s get to the questions and see if we can dissect a little further what the Nuggets might be thinking of doing a week from tonight.

Great question. I think it would be wise for the Nuggets to double-dip this year similar to what they did last year when they drafted Zeke Nnaji then traded back into the first round to select R.J. Hampton. If the Nuggets stick and pick at 26 I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded back into the end of the first round or at the top of the second round to nab a second player.

The depth of this class is insane and I believe the Nuggets could easily find two contributors at the end of the first round on into the second round. Perhaps pairing a combo guard with a wing is something the Nuggets might do if they can land two players like Miles McBride and Joel Ayayi or someone even like JT Thor, who would bring some upside while also being able to fill a need out on the wing.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuggets traded a player like Bol Bol to either move up in the draft or get back into the draft. Like you mentioned, the Nuggets have worked out a ton of guys that could go in the later half of the first round on into the second round, which is definitely just Denver getting a feel for the number of different players in this years class.

There are a ton of guards in this class with pretty good size and the one that could free Jamal Murray up most is Jared Butler from Baylor. Butler is an incredibly solid point guard who ran the show for the eventual national champion this past season. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds Butler could easily run an offense at the next level and allow a talented point guard with shooting abilities — like Murray — to play more off ball.

Jaden Springer is another guard (6-foot-4, 204 pounds) with okay size who fits that mold along with Tre Mann (6-foot-5, 190) out of Florida. Mann might not have the weight yet, but the height is pretty solid and Florida ran everything through him last year. All three of the players mentioned above are certainly options for the Nuggets if they are still on the board when Denver picks.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Primo is an extremely exciting prospect who has tremendous upside, but I don’t think he fits with the Nuggets. Denver needs players that can contribute in year one and drafting a guy who is the youngest player in the draft feels like a waste to me. The Nuggets did workout Primo this week so there is definitely some interest there, but I just think Denver would be wise to look in a different direction at 26th overall.

The Nuggets are in a position where they need players who can contribute right away and Primo is a good one to two years from getting real minutes. Denver has gone this route each of the past few years as they have barely played rookies significant minutes, but I think this is the draft where that changes.

There aren’t as many international guys in this years class that I see the Nuggets “draft and stashing” but they did workout Arnas Velicka last week so he is certainly a name to keep an eye on. There isn’t a ton of information out there about him except for the fact he played in the Bundesliga last year and has experience playing for the Lithuanian national team. Velicka is a point guard that may go undrafted, which makes him a player to keep an eye on for the Nuggets summer league team.