The Denver Nuggets have a deep need for another playable on-ball guard. With Jamal Murray’s injury history as well as Reggie Jackson’s age and potential departure either by declining his player option or in a trade, Denver has to find another guard who can handle the rock and both settle the bench as well as potentially play next to Jokic if necessary. It’s tough to find those things late in the first round, but Tyler Kolek is a potential option. Is he the short point guard with great passing skills the Nuggets have been trying to find in the past couple of draft cycles, or just another mirage?

Tyler Kolek, Point Guard, Marquette


Height (w/o shoes): 6 feet 1.25″

Weight: 196 pounds

Wingspan: 6 feet 2.75 inches

Age: 23 (03/07/2001)

Kolek is the same height as Monte Morris with a slightly shorter wingspan but a little more bulk to work with. Collin Gillespie is also a near-identical physical match, while Jalen Pickett comes in with a much longer wingspan of 6’7. Kolek’s wingspan was the second-shortest measured at the combine. He is essentially limited to the the 1 position, point guard, for most minutes simply because of his size deficiencies against even other point guards, let alone shooting guards in the NBA.

College Statistics

2023/2024 Season Stats

33.0 15.3 4.9 7.7 1.6 49.6% 38.8% 85.1% 10.1




Floor Generalship

This is his calling card, the thing that makes him a first round pick. Kolek led the NCAA in assists this year. His arsenal of passes is limitless – from lobs to cross-court gems, he can do it all. He works especially well in a pick-and-roll scenario with a capable big man, something that would pair really well in a few minutes with Jokic but might hamper him with Denver’s current center-less bench. His passing especially going to the rack is a thing of beauty. He’s a very patient guard, willing to pass and reset, screen and rescreen until an opening in the defense presents itself, and he’s a good finisher for a smaller point guard as well. Everything about the way he directs the offense is beautiful, and he’s a pure competitor in every sense.


Kolek shot 82% from the free throw line in college and has shot 39.3% from behind the arc the past two years. If he might have trouble getting by NBA-level athletes, he can always shoot the rock despite that. He’s been more of an off-ball three point shooter than a pull-up nightmare for opposing teams, but that does make him viable with someone else like Jokic or Jamal Murray on ball for offense. He has a quick wrist flick and a high arc on his shot which makes it harder to block for his height than you might expect, and his finishing in traffic at the rim is both quick and crafty. He uses glass when he needs to, protects with the rim, all of it. In fact, his ability to finish at the rim in college, where 47% of his field goal attempts took place and his success rate was center-like, is exactly the question with him. Can he do that in the NBA? He is very aware of his size limitations but is completely unafraid to attack defenses whenever ball movement and patience creates an opening at any level.

Improvement Areas


No it doesn’t mean everything, but compared to the metrics of other point guards who’ve ever done the combine he is short, slow, can’t jump, doesn’t have quicks… basically he’s below-average by every metric. This is what teams interested in a point guard need to evaluate: can his mind and basketball skills overcome his physical disadvantages? It doesn’t matter if you can process basketball like Nikola Jokic but you keep getting stuffed on every drive by bigger, stronger, faster dudes. Jokic has the advantage of being 7 feet tall, so can Kolek make up for the issues he’ll have on defense and getting past on-ball guards who have length and speed?


He can get steals (1.6 per game in 2024) but in the NBA he’ll need more than quick hands to stick with opposing guards, and he just doesn’t have the wingspan or the footspeed to show he would be able to do that consistently. Being a decent team defender is nice, but just being in the right spot isn’t very helpful when other players can just shoot over you and your T-Rex arms. Can his positioning and anticipation be enough to cut off drives and force long jumpers from bigger, faster players on a continual basis?

Mock Outcome (Nuggets draft 28th)

The Athletic: 24th

CBS Sports: 25th

The Ringer: 18th

Yahoo! Sports: 22nd


This is the same scenario Denver has faced the past couple of years: they have a need at backup point guard, but coach Michael Malone wants a trust-worthy veteran to handle that role. Both Collin Gillespie and Jalen Pickett have tried to fill the “seasoned college point guard who is slow and not great defensively” role for Malone and his hook remains short and unforgiving. There will be an adjustment period for Kolek. TJ McConnell showed what a determined-but-short point guard can do in the right environment for the Indiana Pacers last year and over his career, but for every small-point-guard success in the NBA there are 10 guys selling insurance or playing overseas because just being competitive and basketball-smart isn’t enough unfortunately.

If Denver knows he’s the one they’re going to commit to as a backup, a la Monte Morris, someone to have a steady hand at the tiller and navigate the bench through the treacherous Non-Jokic minutes, then a first round pick on him makes sense. If they’re not sure of that from the jump, then with roster spots already tied up with similar players who already have experience with the team, adding another player with the same kind of tendencies that Denver has refused to entertain previously as rookies (Morris included) doesn’t make a lot of sense.