The NBA Draft is almost here as we are just one day away form one of the most anticipated days of the offseason. This draft is especially exciting from a Nuggets perspective as they now hold two first round picks following their trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder last week.
Denver can do a lot of things on Thursday night as they could stick and pick at both spots, trade up or down, or even attach a pick and trade it with one of their players already on the roster. If the Nuggets do stick and pick, experts seem to have varying options on what the Nuggets could do. Some mocks have them taking a point guard, while other mocks have them targeting a more defensive minded player, which is something the Nuggets definitely need to add to their roster.
Let’s dive into what experts are expecting from the Nuggets. Each pick will include what the selection and I’ll follow up on whether or not I believe that player is a fit in Denver.
Jonathan Givony, NBA Draft analyst at ESPN
21st pick: Dalen Terry, PG/SG, Arizona
Analysis: Terry has vaulted into a pretty solid target for the Nuggets and a big reason why is what he can do on the defensive end of the floor. For a team looking to add a lockdown defender, Terry could bring that from day one and still could get even better as he’s just 19 years old.
Not only is he a great defender, but Terry’s arguably the best passer in this draft class and does a lot of his work out in transition. Terry is a really solid cutter and would fit in great to a Nuggets offense that emphasis a lot on moving to the basket. Where Terry struggles is as a scorer, but this is an area of his game that could hopefully improve at the next level. This would he a solid pick if Terry was indeed the selection come draft night.
30th pick: Christian Braun, SG/SF, Kansas
Analysis: This would be another really solid pick by the Nuggets and would give them something a little different from the Terry pick. Like Terry, Braun could be a really solid defender at the next level and off-ball scorer that presents a ton of upside on both sides of the ball. The thing I also like about Braun is he’s got a little nasty to his game with the personality he plays with. That dog mentality is something you always want to add to you team and Braun would bring that from the moment he walks through the door.
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic
21st pick: Blake Wesley, Guard, Notre Dame
Analysis: Wesley is a fantastic player in the pick-and-roll and does a lot of his damage that way on the offensive end of the floor. Not only can he create for himself and his teammates, but Wesley can also score the ball pretty efficiently as he averaged 14.4 points per game his lone season at Notre Dame.
Where Wesley could give the Nuggets the most value is his perimeter defense, which was a staple of his game throughout his freshman season with the Irish. I’m not sure if Wesley is the best fit for the Nuggets and there are other prospects I would put ahead of him on Denver’s draft board, but he certainly wouldn't be a bad pick by any means.
30th pick: Andrew Nembhard, Point Guard, Gonzaga
Analysis: Nembhard is a name that has a ton of smoke around him and his connection with the Nuggets. Following a workout in Denver last week, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report came out with an article and had this to say about the Nuggets and Nembhard:
“With Denver having acquired the No. 30 pick, league sources expect the Nuggets will target a point guard such as Gonzaga ball-handler Andrew Nembhard. Denver has engaged various teams in trade conversations regarding Monte Morris, the sturdy reserve point guard who filled in as its starter with Jamal Murray sidelined for the season.”
It would not shock me if the Nuggets were targeting Nembhard if they moved on from Monte Morris. During his time at Gonzaga, Nembhard constantly got better and is someone that could contribute for the Nuggets right away. Nembhard’s court vision paired with his ability to shoot and play defense would make him a plug and play option in the Nuggets rotation.
Jonathan Wasserman, Lead scout and NBA Draft analyst at Bleacher Report
21st pick: Marjon Beauchamp, Small Forward, G League Ignite
Analysis: This is becoming one of the more popular picks amongst Nuggets fans, so it’s nice to see one of the experts connecting the dots between Beauchamp and Denver. Beauchamp worked out for the Nuggets on Monday and seemed to impress the Nuggets front office as a player who could step in right away and hopefully contribute as early as next season.
Beauchamp could be the lock down defender the Nuggets are looking for on the perimeter and also possesses some upside offensively. Even though he struggled at times to shoot the ball last season, you can tell Beauchamp has been working on that part of the game as he prepared for the draft and it seems to really have improved.
Not only could Beauchamp grow into a pretty solid shooter at the next level, but he is already a fantastic cutter who does a lot of his damage near the rim. If that doesn’t sound like a player who would fit in perfectly with the Nuggets than I don't know who will.
30th pick: Kennedy Chandler, Point Guard, Tennessee
Analysis: This is the first time I have seen Chandler mocked to the Nuggets and it honestly wouldn’t be terrible value here at the 30th pick. At just 19 years old, Chandler isn one of the younger prospect in this years draft and presents a ton of upside. Chandler is at his best when he is running the show as he does a great job of getting his teammates the ball and can also score from anywhere on the court.
The biggest question mark I would have with this pick is it sounds like the Nuggets would like to add an experienced back up point guard if they do move on from Monte Morris. That points more in the direction of drafting an older more seasoned prospect like Nembhard as mentioned above. There is no doubt that Chandler would be tremendous value for the Nuggets at 30th overall though and might be to good to pass up.
John Hollinger of The Athletic
21st pick: TyTy Washington, Point Guard, Kentucky
Analysis: Washington is a player that has constantly popped up in mock drafts to the Nuggets and is frankly one I just don’t understand. Do I think Washington has the skills to be a solid NBA player? Yes, but I just don’t think he fits what the Nuggets are currently looking for right now.
Adding Washington would almost surely end the Monte Morris era in Denver and I just don’t think you’re getting any better by replacing the two. Sure, Washington is much cheaper than Morris, but at just 6’3’’, 195 points I’m not sure the Kentucky guard is what the Nuggets need after all the small guards they have added the past few seasons.
30th pick: Nikola Jovic, Forward, Mega Basket
Analysis: Now this is a selection I can get behind and it would be phenomenal value to get Jovic at the end of the first round. Not only would it make for a cool story considering Jovic has an almost identical name to that of back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, but he also played for the same Mega Basket team that Denver’s superstar big man played for in Serbia.
Jovic could definitely give the Nuggets some juice offensively next season, but his defense is the area of his game that needs the most improvement. It might be hard for Jovic to crack a rotation spot next year, but with some NBA coaching he could definitely be a solid contributor for the Nuggets down the road.
Kevin O’Conner on The Ringer
21st pick: Malaki Branham, Guard, Ohio State
Analysis: Branham enters the draft following a really solid freshman season at Ohio State and at just 19 years old possesses a ton of upside for whichever team drafts him. It feels like Branham is usually gone when the Nuggets are on the clock in most mock drafts and he would make for a pretty interesting selection if he falls to 21.
Not only can Branham score the ball in bunches from all over the floor, but he is also a pretty solid on-ball defender. Branham would certainly help the Nuggets out defensively and would give them another bucket getter they could either pair with the starting lineup or bring off the bench.
One other interesting note from O’Conner’s mock draft is that he mentioned the Nuggets as a team looking to move up in the draft after acquiring the 30th overall pick:
“After acquiring the 30th pick for JaMychal Green and a future first from the Thunder, the Nuggets are trying to package this pick with the 30th selection to move up into the middle of the first round. It’s probably not enough, unless Denver is willing to add a young player or a future asset.”
30th pick: Jake LaRavia, Forward, Wake Forest
Analysis: This is a player I would absolutely love for the Nuggets to add to their roster. Whether they draft LaRavia at 21 or 30 it doesn't really matter, get this guy on your roster and good things will happen. The Nuggets actually hosted LaRavia for a workout just a few weeks ago where he displayed a shooting stroke that is pretty special for a player his size.
LaRavia is a hard nosed player who will do all the little things right and make the hustle plays in order for your team to have success. Offensively, LaRavia could be a knock down spot up shooter and is also really good at cutting to the basket and finishing near the rim. As far as his defense goes, LaRavia always competes and was a really solid on-ball defender during his time at Wake Forest. LaRavia would be a fantastic addition to the Nuggets roster.
Those obviously aren’t all the expert mock drafts out there, but they are certainly the ones that stand out the most. The biggest theme from all of them is no matter what pick it was — 21 or 30 — they all had the Nuggets selecting different prospects.
The talent pool the Nuggets have to choose from is pretty rich and there is a ton of ways they could go about it if they make both selections tomorrow night. Regardless of what happens, hopefully the Nuggets find the right two players who could come in and help this team push for something they’ve never accomplished before, a championship.