For our next preview of potential first-round Denver Nuggets targets in the NBA Draft, we’ll check out Kansas forward Kevin McCullar Jr. If you’re looking for another Christian Braun type player then look no further than McCullar, who had two years at Kansas under coach Bill Self to turn himself into another iteration of a two-way wing that Self loves to have. Is Denver looking for one of those? Don’t the Nuggets have enough defensive guys who are iffy shooters? That definitely depends on what the trade situations and free agency look like for the Nuggets, and McCullar is one option for going back to the well that both GM Calvin Booth and Coach Michael Malone like to dip into.

Kevin McCullar Jr., Forward, Kansas


Height (w/o shoes): 6 feet, 5.25 inches

Weight: 206 pounds

Wingspan: 6 feet, 9 inches

Age: 23 (03/15/2021)

McCullar comes in right between Christian Braun (6′ 5.5″ with a 6′ 6.5″ wingspan) and Peyton Watson (6′ 6.75″ with a 7′ 0.50″ wingspan) on the “rangy wing defender” spectrum. He’s got longer arms than Braun but not the pterodactyl wingspan that Watson possesses, while having a strong frame to defend the grown men he’ll see in the Association. He doesn’t have the extra muscle of a Wilson Chandler to see heavy duty at the 4, but as a 2/3 swingman more like Braun there’s a lot to like.

College Statistics

2023/2024 Season Stats

34.2 18.3 6.0 4.1 1.5 45.4% 33.3% 80.5% 7.4




Offensive Acumen

McCullar isn’t a sniper – that’s the one thing he’s still working on. But he’s a great cutter and slasher either down the paint or the baseline, and a good free throw shooter (81% this season) who was willing to take three pointers in the flow of the offense even if he wasn’t great at making them just yet (33% on 4.5 attempts per game). He can be a passing hub – his 4 assists a game this year were off of DHOs, pick-and-rolls, pocket passes, everything you would think a point guard would be doing. His ball-handling both in transition and in traffic is pretty advanced. He’s got the Andre Iguodala Starter Pack as far as offense, and while “spot-up shooter” is not his claim to fame yet, he’s got some time to work on it and a shooting stroke that shows he should improve to be a league-average capable shooter. He knows his strengths on offense involve going to the rack, though, and he is fearless about doing just that.

Defensive versatility

McCullar can legitimately defend multiple positions as a strong wing with fast feet and hands. He can crowd guards and take away their ability to turn the corner, or body up a forward to prevent an easy turn to the bucket. He has good hands for both steals and boards, and stays attached through screens. He was a Naismith DPOY semi-finalist two years running, and can make life very difficult for even very good opposing wings. If Dalton Knecht, almost certainly top-10 pick this year, is a no-doubt NBA-level player then the guy who made him look like a high schooler when they played this year should be too.

Improvement Areas

Injury concerns

McCullar wasn’t able to participate in the NBA combine for the same reason his season ended early: the bone bruise in his left knee. It’s the same injury that took a chunk of Julian Strawther’s season for the Nuggets. There has been a lot of talk about whether this means he’s soft because he missed the NCAA tournament, whether he’s a bad teammate – a lot of smoke that may be taking his draft stock down. Even more serious smoke got MPJ to fall to Denver, so if this gets McCullar out of the range of the bad teams and onto a squad that can use his playstyle, it may still work out in his favor (even while it costs him money in the short-term). This is a strange one for me because until this year I can’t remember anyone questioning his heart or integrity, and missing the combine in May should be extra weight on the side of serious injury rather than a lack of desire to gut it out. That said, any injury that takes you out for several months has to be a concern.

Deep Shooting

McCullar can handle scoring around the basket just fine. As a 23 year old who shot 30.1% from deep for his career, though, there are concerns about whether he’ll ever be league-average from behind the arc. His free throw percentage is perfectly reasonable at 75.6% for his career and 80.5% this year, and usually players with a decent free throw shot can be coached into gains from deep. To go back to the Wilson Chandler well, he shot 30.3% from deep in his two years at DePaul, while shooting 65.9% from the line. In the NBA, Ill Will shot 34.1% from 3 and 77% from the free throw line. Is 34% enough for McCuller to make an impact?  League-average is around 36% right now – can he get to that? He showed this year for Kansas that he was willing to take the necessary threes for them to keep the floor spaced, and that’s all Denver would be asking him to do – that, and make open ones if he’s left alone. With Denver’s shooting woes on the bench, it’s hard to see another wing defender join the squad who cannot take and make those.

Mock Outcome (Nuggets draft 28th)

The Athletic: 51st

The Ringer: 46th

Yahoo! Sports: 37th


McCullar has so many things going for him to be an effective NBA player that seeing him out of the first round in mocks makes me doubt my eyes. There are not thirty better pros in this draft than McCullar. He compares himself to Jalen Williams from the Thunder, and Jaime Jaquez Jr, the breakout forward last season. Some players have very optimistic self-comps, but in this case it’s easy to see how McCullar views himself in that vein with his on-ball skills complemented by his scoring burst and finishing touch and backed up by his plus defense.

His age is working against him. Not being able to roll these 19 and 20 year olds in workouts isn’t doing him any favors. But if you asked me if I would accept a Will Barton swingman who had an extra 25 pounds of muscle and lived and breathed defense I would say yes, absolutely. How much more could I possibly ask for? But the problem for him specifically in Denver is that they have 2 guys on the bench in Braun and Watson who are already filling the wing defender role and have shooting questions. From a Best Player Available standpoint though, if McCullar is there and some interior options are not, turning down good players because you don’t currently have a rotation spot for them is a good way to mess up a draft pick. Trades and injuries happen all the time. McCullar’s biggest fit problem honestly would be picking a new number – sorry Kevin, but 15 is already taken.