What was your initial reaction when you found out Bones Hyland was the pick?
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): I was a little surprised considering where the board was at, but Bones Hyland really does seem like a Tim Connelly guy. By all reports it sounds like Hyland is an absolute gym rat who should fit in perfectly with the Nuggets culture. Hyland is a dynamic scorer and will give the Nuggets immediate offense whether that’s in the starting lineup or off the bench. Bones will have to improve defensively, but his offensive capabilities leave little doubt because he can absolutely light it up from anywhere on the court.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): A bit of shock honestly. Not about Bones, but that Denver had its pick of guards who could likely start immediately - or at least at some point this season - and were terrific defenders who can get a bucket too. Denver needed a replacement for Gary Harris, had a couple available to them, and passed on that opportunity to add a player who is a dynamite scorer but not the defender Denver needs long-term.
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): A bit of disappointment. I know better than to go against what Tim Connelly and co. believe will help the team though. Bones Hyland wasn’t initially on my radar as someone the Nuggets would end up with, and after watching Denver struggle to stop anyone in the playoffs, it’s hard not to be disappointed to see Denver go offense-focused with this selection. However, Bones can ball. There’s no question about it. He will help Denver score. I’m simply worried about the defense.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): I was pretty excited. One of the Nuggets biggest needs was perimeter scoring, and Bones was one of the best scorers in the draft. With a 6-foot-9-inch wingspan, a reliable jumper, and craftiness around the rim, he’s another option on offense for a team that can really light up the scoreboard. He’ll have time to develop his rookie year, and I expect him to continue working on his craft with the Nuggets G-League team.
Would you have gone in a different direction with any of the other players on the board or is Hyland a nice value pick at 26 overall?
Ewing: It felt like Hyland could have gone a little higher, so the Nuggets drafting him at 26 feels like pretty good value. I thought they might go with Jared Butler, but the medicals might have been a problem considering he fell all the way to 40. There were a ton of solid guards available when the Nuggets drafted so the fact they took Bones Hyland makes me think he was their guy. Hyland plays with a chip on his shoulder and feels like a perfect culture fit with the Nuggets, so hopefully Denver just got a first round steal when we look back on this draft in a few years.
Gross: Hyland’s value is fine. He has a couple of NBA skills already (shooting and motor) and works extremely hard on his weaknesses. More time in the gym will help him against bigger guys, and his shot isn’t going away. But he’s likely not big enough to play next to Jamal Murray when Murray gets back, despite his length. It looks like a floor pick where they wanted the guaranteed bench player and someone who could put the ball in the basket - something the bench unit has struggled with for a while now. Someone has to score when MPJ and Jokic (and eventually Murray) are sitting, and the Nuggets picked Hyland as that guy. I was just looking for a different primary skill, because Denver is facing a bunch of killers at guard and on the wing in the West and Hyland is not likely to slow them down much early in his career.
Blackburn: Jaden Springer and Miles McBride were my two top options. They were two of the best on-ball defenders in the draft with elite measure-ables and two of the smarter, more aggressive guards. That’s where I would have gone, especially because I believe in both of them developing offensively. If not those two, then Ayo Dosunmu or Cam Thomas would have been my next two choices.
Lewis: I don’t think the Nuggets need defenders as much as they need scorers. If Hyland really is a dynamic scoring threat in the NBA like he was in college, the Nuggets can teach him how to defend in their scheme. I think it’s easier to teach players how to become adequate defenders than it is to teach players how to score.
Where do you see Hyland fitting in with Denver? Can he play as early as next season?
Ewing: Not sure Hyland will contribute right out of the gate, but I think he will eventually have a role with the Nuggets next season. Something that has flown a little under the radar these past few years is the Nuggets struggles to score from their bench unit at times. Hyland should immediately be able to help with that and hopefully grown into a starter for the Nuggets in the future. Hyland will have to put on a little more weight and grow defensively, but offense is certainly something he could provide the Nuggets in year one.
Gross: I do think he can play next year - and will. Denver is currently very short on guards and the ones it does have are, well, short. Ironically, while Hyland is a little short and light at the 2 guard, his 6’9 wingspan is better than most of the guards on the roster and they need that scoring punch badly. He is a smart player - a bit overeager on jumping passing lanes for steals, but it’s easier to turn down a player’s enthusiasm than to make them turn it up. Hyland will get minutes, most likely at the 2 off the bench. He’s not a point guard at this stage of his career.
Blackburn: I see Hyland initially starting the season on the bench, perhaps spending some time in the G League. Eventually though, he will get his chance to support the Nuggets bench unit as a scorer, which he can certainly do. Whether he stays in the rotation when Jamal Murray comes back remains to be seen, but I expect his role to more or less mirror that of R.J. Hampton last year before he was moved, playing spot minutes due to injury and much more if he flourishes.
Lewis: I don’t think he’ll play much. If the Nuggets don’t sign a guard in free agency he could be a fifth or sixth option for them, but this is a team that is going to try to play more experienced players more often.
What do you grade the pick?
Ewing: I’m all about getting your guy if you're not selecting in the top 20 and the Nuggets seem to have accomplished that with Hyland. Even though there were some other players on the board I might have preferred to Hyland, I think he can be a solid pick for Denver. None of the players selected in the draft are a sure thing, but Hyland’s offensive ability certainly feels like one. If he can bulk up and get better defensively I think Hyland could have a solid NBA career and help the Nuggets be successful. B
Gross: If the other guards had been drafted already, I would think this pick was just fine. Denver filled a need and I like Bones as a person and in the role Denver will likely deploy him in. There’s upside in his game too defensively and as a lead ball-handler. But for the immediate need Denver had, it feels like they leaned again on a player that wasn’t the best fit for their needs, and Denver really needs to start focusing on addressing all their needs. These Jokic years are precious. B
Blackburn: I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I don’t think this was the right selection. I could be wrong though. I didn’t think the Zeke Nnaji pick last year was a good selection, and that turned out fine. Maybe the same happens with Hyland. He’s going to have to win me over though, and that probably involves putting on some muscle and showing that he can do the things role players need to do to win basketball games. Defense, playmaking for others, and decision making were Hyland’s biggest weaknesses at the college level. Maybe it changes in the pros. We will see. C
Lewis: Grades are relative to expectations, right? Hyland isn’t Jalen Green. If he winds up being a rotation player off the bench, that’s a good pick for the Nuggets at No. 26. If anything, he shows off his skills as a scorer in the G-League and the Nuggets are able to flip him for a veteran contributor in the next couple years. Best case scenario, he becomes a microwave scoring threat that works his way into the rotation towards the end of the season. Worst case, he’s an emergency guard that’ll be playing alongside Markus Howard. B+