The first night of the draft is tonight! After all this waiting – I like it much better when the Denver Nuggets win a title and the Draft happens right afterward – we’ll finally get a glimpse into the plans of the team’s front office. Will Calvin Booth take a need pick at point guard or center? Will he draft an older player who is ready now or go back to the Connelly years of getting young players to train up? Will he trade the pick and make all these articles completely worthless? So exciting!

The problem with a flat draft is that draft boards will vary wildly, to say nothing of what will happen when the picks are actually made. There is no way to comprehensively cover all of Denver’s options across both picks without doing 50 write-ups, and I did not lose a bet so I will not be doing that. However, here are the links to the players all ready covered with in-depth reviews, as well as some stubs for potential options for Denver in both the first and second rounds:

F/C DaRon Holmes II versatile big working himself into a stretch 4 and quality defender, but an undersized 5 at any level.

PG Tyler Kolek – offensive mastermind and floor general with size and speed concerns at the next level.

F/C Kyle Filipowski – good-passing offensive big man with scoring touch who may struggle against true 5s defensively. 

F Kevin McCullar Jr – swingman with defensive chops who can pass and finish but has a shooting stroke that’s still a work-in-progress.

F/C Adem Bona – rough-and-tumble athletic big man with defensive upside and finishing skills, but lacks shooting and has a propensity for fouls.


First Round players Denver should take if available:

C Kel’el Ware (Ringer 9, CBS 24, The Athletic 32, Yahoo 14)

He’s all over most draft boards, from the middle of the lottery to falling out of the first round. This is all about what value observers place on his strengths vs. his weaknesses. He’s huge, has a massive wingspan, is athletic for lobs and blocks as well as defensive rotations, and oh yeah, his three point stroke looks workable in small doses already. If you believe in those strengths he’s absolutely a top-15 guy in this class. If you think his motor isn’t as high as you want or that he’s not an aggressive offensive player and that gives you pause at the 5, then maybe he drops. For me, he’s got a lot of Myles Turner in his game: not a real shooting threat but is willing to take the shots you need him to take and can compete on both ends. I don’t see how he gets to the Nuggets, but based on the mocks there’s certainly a chance that he can – and I would be happy to add pick-and-roll lob guy and transition threat who throws block parties in the Mile High.

C Zach Edey (Ringer 12, CBS 21, The Athletic 21, Yahoo 30)

This is like Ware – he should not be there when Denver drafts, but if he is then Denver would get an absolute asset at the draft position. The concern with Edey is whether he can be a full-time starter as a slow mover who might not survive the guard attack and night-to-night transition game of the NBA. For Denver those concerns are completely invalid. They have Nikola Jokic who will play as many games and minutes as are humanly possible at his size. In fact, Edey being capable of more minutes than some other bench bigs would let them rest Jokic more, give him some games off, and also provide Denver’s bench with an incredibly huge and strong player with a good shooting touch and a pick-and-role knack. Oh yeah, and he loves blocks and boards. He’s an outstanding fit for Denver’s big man needs… he just shouldn’t be there because surely some team above them will figure out they also need a big man with his skills.

F Tristan DaSilva (Ringer 16, CBS 17, The Athletic 17, Yahoo 20)

Just a professional. Should have a Shane Battier-like career where his defensive acumen is what he hangs his hat on but can do basically anything you need on either side of the ball. Not a guy who should be available, though I was dearly hoping he would be as recently as February. But his stock since tournament started has just had too much helium to expect him to be available at 28. He’s the kind of two-way guy with a high floor that can make every star’s job easier, and that lottery teams tend to pass on because they’re looking for stars and not glue. TDS can operate his own glue factory. DaSilva can shoot, pass, defend, run in transition… About the only thing he doesn’t do is rebound at an especially high volume and it’s usually because he’s out on the perimeter making guards and wings cry. Excellent role-player potential, out of reach for Denver most likely.

Other potential first-rounders I didn’t mock:

– F Baylor Scheierman, because he’s a G/F swingman much in the Strawther vein and I don’t see them going back-to-back on that. If they do, he’s a nice spot-up shooter who will crash the boards but I have defensive concerns.

– PG Ajay Mitchell, because he has the same weaknesses as Kolek with no burst and needing craftiness to get it done (though with some added size Kolek doesn’t have). Smart player though who can run a bench offense – just probably not for Denver in the right timeframe.

– F Jaylon Tyson, who has a lot of skills but may not be the master of any. He’s the sort of slower small forward who might not have the burst to get all those rim finishes that pumped up his college numbers, and most of his threes came from one spot on the floor. Very smooth and competent player who can both score and handle the rock and even play some defense, and who should get a bench role to prove me wrong somewhere if Denver doesn’t take the swing. I just like McCullar a little better.

Second Round:

C/F Oso Ighodaro (Ringer 41, The Athletic 47, Yahoo 51)

I’m higher on Ighodaro than most. I can be talked into him in the first round depending on how the board falls, so getting him in the second would be a complete steal. He’s a terrific passer and ball-handler, has active hands on defense as well as the feet to be able to move on the perimeter and defend multiple positions. His problem is that he has a floater and basically nothing else so he can’t stretch the floor. Oso is a really smart player who is probably a 4 playing 5, so he can get overwhelmed in the paint by true 5s both defensively and for rebounds, but his role is uncertain in the NBA. He does so many things well though, especially in the pick-and-roll and as a passer, which helps Denver’s bench maintain some continuity with the starters. His play-style is weird, but it could be Denver’s kind of weird.

F Jonathan Mogbo (Ringer 44, The Athletic 46, Yahoo 52)

Mogbo was great at San Francisco this year, putting on a ferocious rebounding show while also finishing in the paint and even dishing his share of assists. He puts his good hands to use on defense as well with steals deflections. The problem is he can’t shoot. He’s not a deep scorer, not a mid-range scorer, not a pull-up shooter, none of it. He is a finisher and a rebounder who can push the pace in transition and be a capable ball-handler. He’s someone in the Kenneth Faried / Jarred Vanderbilt spectrum of guys who don’t have an offensive game but do a couple of other things really well, and with the defense he plays he definitely leans toward being a Vando. His ability with the ball in his hands to do everything except shoot is really interesting to me though as a second round flier with a nose for the ball.

PG KJ Simpson (Ringer 27, The Athletic 53, Yahoo 53)

If KJ was 6’4 he would probably be a lottery pick. Instead he’s barely over 6 feet without shoes, an inch shorter than Monte Morris with the same 6’4 wingspan. Simpson is very athletic though, with a huge vert and the ability to set his own pace with a fearlessness in the paint that will be required as a small guard. His shooting ability took a step forward this season at every level, but especially from 3 where he shot 43.4% on 5 attempts a game. Is that sustainable or a blip? If it’s sustainable then a legitimate floor general who is aggressive both as a scorer and a competitor is fine, short or otherwise and despite defensive questions. Of course Denver also already has a couple of other short point guards in the mix, and adding another one may be a bridge too far even in the second round.

PG Tristen Newton (Ringer 49, The Athletic 50, Yahoo unlisted)

Just see whatever CT Fazio has written about Newton and assume I’m co-signing it. A defensive PG who can pass and cut but needs work on his shooting, which should improve over time and will make him a complete guard. I wanted Andre Jackson Jr. from UConn last year, who also can’t shoot yet but is so good everywhere else he still deserves playing time, and I would take Newton in the same role this year. Really good value for a late-second round selection if he somehow gets here, or a mid-round one if Denver moves up.


Enjoy the draft, everyone, especially in this new two-day format that drags out the agony and the ecstasy – no matter what Denver chooses to do, it’s a very important couple of days for improving the squad. Keeping picks, trading them, adding a big or going wing… it’s all part of the plan, and hopefully the plan is a good one.