The Denver Nuggets have not been one of the more effective teams in building through the draft. The only player on the roster who was drafted by the Nuggets is Carmelo Anthony (although Nene and Linas Kleiza were drafted for the Nuggets by other teams). Aside from failing to help their team through the draft there is one thing you can count on with the Nuggets. They will probably make a trade.

Since drafting Carmelo Anthony in 2003 with their first round pick the Nuggets have traded a first round pick every season since. The years they have not already given their pick away they still end up working up a trade on draft night. In 2004 they drafted Jameer Nelson with the 20th pick and shipped him off to Orlando. In 2005 they had the 20th and 22nd picks. They kept the 20th pick and drafted Julius Hodge. With the 22nd pick they drafted Jarrett Jack, but then traded him to Portland for the 27th pick, Linas Kleiza, and the 35th pick, which turned out to be the only player not in the NBA Draft media guide that was drafted, the incomparable Ricky Sanchez. Actually, he is very comparable and the comparison that comes to mind is the Nikiloz Tskitishvili of the second round.

The wheeling and dealing even goes back before 2003. In the 2002 draft Antonio McDyess and the draft rights to Frank Williams were sent to New York in exchange for Marcus Camby and the draft rights to Nene. There have been a couple of other first round picks they acquired from other teams that they used, but the point is it is rare that the Nuggets hang on to their own first round pick, use it and keep the player. Chances are there is a trade coming with the 20th pick in the 2008 draft.

In fact over the previous ten drafts, going back to 1999, the Nuggets have used and retained their first round pick only three times. Who were the three players? Skita, Melo and Julius Hodge. Not the best track record. Maybe we should pray for a trade.

Even so, there is a chance that the Nuggets can help themselves in the draft. It is clear what this team needs, an upgrade at point guard and some front court depth in case Kenyon Martin, Nene or Camby are either injured or traded. They are set at shooting guard with Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith. They have a good duo of small forwards with Melo and Kleiza. And if Martin and Nene could be counted on to stay healthy and George Karl would use Steven Hunter they would be pretty well set in the front court as well. Add in Eduardo Najera and the Nuggets go at least two deep at every position except for point guard where they may very well be zero deep.

In the Ridiculous Upside blogger mock draft I selected Mario Chalmers citing the facts that he is a good defender, can shoot, penetrate and knows how to play winning basketball on a talented team. At the time I thought it was a bit of a reach, but since then Chalmers stock has skyrocketed to the point where he could go as early as 12th to Sacramento. If Chalmers is not available for the Nuggets at 20, there is no other point guard that is worth drafting until the early second round.

If Chalmers does not drop to the Nuggets at pick number 20 they would have to either address their point guard position via a trade or free agency. One potential deal I could foresee would be a swap with the Trailblazers. Portland has reportedly purchased the 27th pick from New Orleans. They now have five picks in the draft and no where on their roster to put them. Would Portland be willing to swap the 27th and 33rd or 36th picks with the Nuggets in exchange for the 20th pick? The Nuggets could grab a point guard with either of the picks they receive from Portland.

The question then is who could they draft?

Kyle Weaver out of Washington State is a nice player similar to Russell Westbrook, but I do not think he has the ball handling and penetration skills required to be a quality point guard in the NBA. He did raise his three point shooting to a decent 36% last season, but he is not a shooter who can spot up and hit open jumpers from the perimeter. However, he would fit the profile of a big guard who could help mask AI’s deficiencies as a defender as a miniature shooting guard.

Another potential point guard prospect the Nuggets could consider in the late first or early second round is Jamont Gordon from Mississippi State, but he is more of a scoring guard in the mold of AI and is an even worse shooter than Weaver.

The other available options would be Mike Taylor, who was booted from Iowa State and played with the Idaho Stampede in the D League last season, or George Hill from IUPUI (that is Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis). Taylor, like Gordon, is a scoring guard who would make for a poor defensive backcourt while teamed with AI. Hill is a more of an undersized shooting guard with some point guard skills. He has decent size, is a good shooter and is a very efficient scorer averaging a mind boggling 1.7 points per shot last season. He shot over 50% from the field each of his three college seasons.

Out of those four players my preference would be for Weaver or Hill although neither is as good of a point guard prospect as Taurean Green.

The Nuggets are a very tight lipped organization this time of year so it is very difficult to surmise what they are thinking. The do have a draft section on their official website. The only really interesting aspect of it is they have a few prospects that they profile by position. I think it will be very interesting to see if they draft a player out of that group of profiled prospects or if that is more of a smokescreen designed to make other teams wonder if those are the players they are interested in. I imagine the profiles were put together by someone in the media department and they are simply their best guesses as to who might be available, but I would not put it past the Nuggets, or any other team really, to use their draft section to spread disinformation.

The players that they have featured by position are point guard Chalmers, shooting guards Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee and Brandon Rush, small forwards Nicholas Batum, Donte Greene and Bill Walker, power forwards Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson and Nathan Jawai and centers Kosta Koufos, Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee and Marreese Speights. They also list a handful of other prospects after the featured players. The only other point guard listed is Mike Taylor. Jamont Gordon and Kyle Weaver are listed, but as shooting guards. Hill is not listed, but that might just mean he is the player they really want. The list of the other players named is too long to print here, but you can check it out for yourself if you are so inclined.

Blah, blah, blah, what does all of this mean?

My ideal draft for the Nuggets, aside from them trading Camby (to the Knicks for the 6th pick – Jerryd Bayless? and Eddy Curry – by him out) and AI (to Cleveland for Wally Szczerbiak, Andreson Varejao and the 19th pick – Courtney Lee) as I have discussed previously, would be to have Chalmers fall to the Nuggets with their 20th pick, which is entirely possible. Even though Chad Ford at has Chalmers going 12th to Sacramento, he has admitted that this draft has been the most difficult one to project. It does seem teams are looking for more of a safe bet than reaching for the high upside players as they have in the past. If that is indeed the case Chalmers is clearly one of the players who will climb the draft boards. However, Draft Express still has Chalmers going 27th.

If the Nuggets cannot land Chalmers, the other player I am interested in is J.J. Hickson from North Carolina State. He is a very powerful forward who has a knack for scoring in the paint. He is only 19 and already has an NBA body. He has a turn around jumper that looks good out to 12 or 15 feet and also has a jumper that will extend out about that far as well. The only question mark about Hickson is his lateral quickness, but from what I have seen, he is plenty quick. His beef would provide that depth inside that we discussed earlier that would help protect against another injury plagued season from Martin or Nene and he would be the Nuggets third best post scorer as soon as David Stern would call his name.

Other players that intrigue me are Donte Greene, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee and Kosta Koufos though I have reservations about all of them. With Green I do not see the need to add another high volume shooter to the roster. Douglas Roberts is not a good perimeter shooter and Lee is a solid player in the mold of a Rodney Stucky, although without the point skills, but my primary concern with him is that his presence might make it easier to let J.R. Smith walk and talent wise Lee is a far cry from Smith. Koufos is a highly skilled big man, but can he rebound and defend against NBA centers?

Nicholas Batum is another player that I like, but how does he fit in with Melo and Kleiza in front of him? He probably would not play for at least two seasons and with the Nuggets current aged roster they are playing for now, not the future.

There are also a gaggle of players that I am exceedingly fearful of and that group includes Robin Lopez, Alexis Ajinca, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan. Lopez is nowhere near even Steven Hunter’s talent level. Ajinca is the typical workout wonder that is shooting up the charts despite the fact that he was not able to be an effective player in France. Hibbert is the typical stiff who will get circles run around him by other centers. McGee is a good dunker, but can do little else and Jordan lacks the desire to improve.

With all of that being said, in the end none of us really have any idea what the Nuggets will do. Will they trade down? Trade up? Trade out? Will Chalmers fall to them? If so, do they take him or go after some high risk, high reward bust waiting to happen?

Only time will tell and fortunately for us that time is near.