When: Tonight, 5 p.m. MTN – ESPN
Picks: Nuggets have the 34th overall pick (4th pick in the 2nd Round)

While I was stuck in traffic on I-25 Southbound yesterday … I got to catch a lengthy interview with the NBA’s Executive of the Year Mark Warkentien of the Denver Nuggets.

Wark was a guest on 104.3 FM with the Sports Guys Mike and Sandy. The interview focused primarily on points guards and what the Nuggets might do if their guy is still on the board in the late first round.

Follow the jump to find out more on what the Nuggets may do tonight …

First off … I lost my first draft of this with an unfortunate misfire of a key stroke … I'm trying my best not to put my head through a wall at the moment … so bear with me.

The funniest part of the interview occured when Wark was asked about the NBA potential of Hasheem Thabeet. To paraphrase … Have you ever been in a bar around midnight or 1 a.m.? You ever drink (someone) pretty? Well, when you wake up Friday morning from a long Thursday night you want to be proud of what you have.

Safe to say that the Nuggets front office is not high on the 7'3'' UCONN project.


The meat of what Wark had to say about the Nuggets draft:

To paraphrase his poker reference:
If we feel we have a hand to play then we are going to play it. If not …

If our guy is there … at say … … … … 26 then we'll trade up to get him …

I was very surprised to hear Wark say that the Nuggets are entertaining trading up and maybe even trading up into the first-round to get their guy. Don't get it twisted … the Nuggets have identified a player or two who they want badly enough that they'll dip into the first-round (where guaranteed contracts happen) to get him.

Wark cited the age of Denver's current point guards and noted that it'd be nice to have a young guy in the mix with the veterans who remain. (Billups 33, Anthony Carter 34, Jason Hart 31 and will be 32 next April).

We all know that Billups will be back, so if Denver finds their guy in the draft tonight, I think we can officially say goodbye to either Carter or Hart (most likely Hart).

Let's take a look at Chad Ford's latest Mock Draft Version 7.1 and see where the point guards may fall tonight:

Where the point guards may wind up tonight in the Draft:3.) Ricky Rubio (Thunder)

4.) Stephen Curry (Kings)*

6.) Jonny Flynn (Timberwolves)

10.) Brandon Jennings (Bucks)

13.) Jrue Holiday (Pacers)

17.) Eric Maynor (76'ers)

19.) Ty Lawson (Hawks)

24.) Jeff Teague (Mavericks)

26.) Nick Calathes (Bulls)

31.) Darren Collison (Kings)*


36.) Patrick Mills (Grizzlies)

42.) Rodrigue Beaubois (Lakers)

44.) Nando De Colo (Pistons)


* If the Kings select Curry with the #4 pick, no way they take another PG later in Collison.

There are plenty of teams above that don't have the point guard spot as their number one concern. The Pacers (T.J. Ford), 76'ers (free agent Andre Miller), and Hawks (free agent Mike Bibby and newly acquired Jamal Crawford (SG)) all come to mind as teams that may pass up point guards in favor of other positions.

The Nuggets could get a steal in this draft if they play their cards right (Wark's poker references are catchy!). I could see Denver perhaps making a play for five guys at the point guard spot.

The unrealistic options:
Eric Maynor and Ty Lawson. They may be too rich for Denver's blood, as the Nuggets would have to crack the top 15-20 range to get them … not exactly the 26th spot that Wark mentioned, but he is a poker player and likes to bluff.

The somewhat realistic option:
Jeff Teague. With the depth in this draft at the point guard spot Teague may find himself the odd man out until the Mavericks select at the 24 spot. Dallas is supposidly in love with Teague and wont pass him up at 24.

So, for Denver to get Teague they'll probably have to trade up to the 22nd or 23rd pick to get ahead of Dallas. Portland actually switched spots with Dallas in a trade earlier in the week to get to 22 … so the Nuggets would have to work a deal with the Kings to secure the 23rd pick if Teague falls that far.

The realistic potential targets:
Darren Collison and Patrick Mills. Denver may get lucky enough to have one of these guys fall to them at 34 … or maybe both of them. But if Denver really wants Collison then they may have to move into the first round to secure him.

In some earlier mock drafts Chad Ford had the Lakers taking Collison at 29 to help subbplant the aging Derek Fisher, the inconsistent Jordan Farmar, and restricted free agent Shannon Brown. If L.A.'s following Ford's gameplan then they are selecting combo guard Toney Douglas out of Florida State (6'2'' 183 lbs.)

Douglas is of the same mold as Shannon Brown and if the Lakers take a poing guard or Douglas then they may be waving goodbye to Brown. Ford also points out that his confidence level is 50% for the Lakers taking Douglas as they have been trying to trade their pick … maybe Denver can grab this pick and secure their guy.**

During Warkentien's interview he did give the depressing side as well … Denver may trade the pick and miss the draft entirely. Denver's front office believes that talent can be found in the NBADL where they have had some success with Dahntay Jones and to a lesser extent Von Wafer. I'd much rather see the Nuggets be players in this draft, but I understand that they are focused on a limited amount of targets.


Stay tuned to this saga as I'll be updating where the Nuggets stand as the day goes on!

I love the offseason and the DRAFT!



**The New York Knicks have acquired the 29th pick in the draft from the Los Angeles Lakers for $3 million, according to Blogabull.com.


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