In Roundball’s recent Denver Nuggets’ Big Board 2.0 I stated, “If Faried does however manage to find his way past the Trailblazers, to put it simply: Nuggets fans should be ecstatic.” Little did I know however, that “ecstatic” wouldn’t even begin to cover the range of emotions I felt as David Stern announced Faried’s name as the Nuggets’ 22nd overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft.
I distinctly remember when Ty Lawson was drafted. It was the 2009 NBA Draft, and the Nuggets had no selections in the first round. I wasn’t expecting much, although I knew from prior speculation that the Nuggets liked Ty Lawson and wanted to draft him in 2008 before he returned to North Carolina to win an NCAA Championship during his junior season. So when Ric Bucher got on camera and announced that the 18th overall pick wasn’t going to stay long in Minnesota, and would instead be sent Denver’s way, I became ecstatic. Jumping up and down, pumping my fists, I marinated in the moment of my favorite sports franchise making an excellent move on Draft Day.
That moment rendered me ecstatic. Tonight however, emotions from every corner of my mind and body engulfed me until I could barely move. Until Faried was drafted, my plan was to keep a running draft log throughout the evening, but after our selection, I couldn’t even type. Hell, I could barely see straight for that matter. I was so overcome with pure bliss and excitement that for a moment, I actually thought I might permanently suffer some sort of brain-damaged due to the sudden rushing overflow of dopamine in my brain. Eventually, I managed to cling on to real life again, but my draft log was totally halted after that. Here’s what I got leading up to that moment:
– As if anybody still doesn’t’ know every work to Adele’s hit-single, “Rolling In The Deep,” ESPN has chosen to use it for each intro and outro for the draft.
– I still think it would be smart of Cleveland to take Williams first, then whichever they feel is the best point guard with the 4th pick.
– To recap: The world would be a better place if nobody listened to Doug Gottlieb… ever. I’ve been tuning into ESPN Radio for the last several days and got to listen to him continuously bash Kemba Walker while comparing him to Mateen Cleaves and Corey Brewer. Then when he actually had Kemba on the air, he gave one of the worst interviews I’ve ever heard. You could totally tell he was skating around everything he’d been saying for the last few days, and instead of telling Kemba straight-up how he felt, asked him trivial questions like (paraphrasing here), “You gotta a nice suit, right? What color is it?” and “Are you gonna wear a top hat?” Turrible, just turrible.
– Finally the draft is underway. Here we go, pick by pick.
1. No surprise with Irving, but like I said, they should have taken Williams.
2. Another shocker. Though he says he’s a three, Williams will likely be a better power forward. He’s tall enough to rebound and defend other power forwards, yet quick enough to take them off the dribble. Guys like Lebron and Melo would smoke him if he played small forward. Either way, nice solid pick. I think he’s got a chance to be an All-Star one day.
3. I suspected Kanter would be the pick here. O’Connor knows what he’s doing, and with Favors, this could be one hell of a front court going forward. Utah has a HUGE team now. Does this set up the Jimmer pick?!?
4. GREAT pick by the Cavs! Totally unexpected. I just have to ask, where was this type of aggression when Lebron was there?
5. Are you kidding me? You’re really gonna pass on Knight when you already have Ed Davis, Amir Johnson and Bargnani? This isn’t the worst pick in the history of the draft (Nuggets probably still own that title for Tskitishvili or LaFrentz), but I just don’t understand how you pass on a guy with the potential of Knight. Makes no sense whatsoever. (Side note: What an epic fail of an interview by Valanciunas. He just flat out gave up because his English was so bad. At least he smiled at the end though; Darko was too cool for that even.)
6. What a hot kiss by Vesely and his girlfriend (wife?). I was kind of expecting some tongue after a while. Good thing he kept it PG-rated. Gotta laugh at Stuart Scott: “Not everybody can be that lucky.”
7. Biyombo to Charlotte seems perfect. If he’s a bust, it won’t be a big deal because, remember, it’s Charlotte we’re talking about here. (Side note: What the hell happened to Charlotte? Wasn’t it only a few years ago that they finally made the Playoffs, had an All-Star and seemed on the rise? Oh yea, that’s right, trading away the best player in franchise history for Joel “The Vanilla Gorilla” Przybilla will do that to you. I got Charlotte as the worst team in the league next year by a country mile. Who wants to take that bet?)
– How can you pass on Knight if your the Pistons? Please, somebody take Knight before I lose my mind!!!
8. THANK THE LORD! The Pistons just turned their franchise around, you heard it here first. In the interview Knight looks like he already has it out for the seven teams that passed on him. When it’s all said and done, he might go down as the best player in this draft.
9. Charlotte got a steal with Walker. Should make Biymbo’s life a lot easier.
10. The Kings shot themselves in the foot this draft. Knight would have still been available if they hadn’t traded back. I don’t know how to feel about the Jimmer pick. I like the kid more than most, but I don’t know if Sac-Town is the best place for him to thrive. What I do know: A nucleus of Knight, Evans and Cousins would have been deadly. This was definitely an owners pick. The Maloofs love Jimmer and were pushing hard to land him. It’s too bad really, ownership dictating who to select. This is the type of bad decision-making that can set a franchise back for years. The Kings could have had something special. Jazz gotta be breathing a sigh of relief now.
11. Saw this one coming from a mile away. Warriors should have taken Singleton though. You can’t win without defense.
12. GREAT PICK again by Utah. A the moment the Williams trade has already turned into Kanter, Burks and Favors, plus a first-rounder next year. I’d take that any day over Williams alone. Really, this could not have worked out better for Utah.
13. Markieff before Marcus, interesting… Gotta love the reaction from Marcus though: “It ain’t the end of the world,” as tears run down from his face. Certainly sounds like it.
14. Good storyline, twins going back-to-back. I like this pick a lot for the Rockets.
– OK, Indiana’s up. Who’s the whitest player available? How is Kawhi still hanging around?
15. Ahhh, that’s more like it. Steal for Indy, but they’ve got a lot of small forwards, similar to the Nuggets.
16. First member of the Roundball Big Board gets drafted. Vucevic is a guy I’ve been high on all along. He’ll be a good, solid pro.
17. Second member of the Roundball’s Big Board gets drafted. Nuggets fans dodged a freakin’ bullet here. How painful would it have been if the Knicks got Faried? I know I wouldn’t be happy.
18. Excellent pick by the Wizards. I was kind of hoping Singleton would fall to the Nuggets, assuming Faried would be off the board.
19. Uh oh, another member of the Big Board gets drafted and this time, it’s our guy: Tobias Harris. They have to trade with Portland now.
– Alright, for the first time all night, I’m starting to sweat bullets. If Faried is off the table we have to take Tyler.
20. Should have seen this one coming (Motiejunas). I thought they’d take Brooks. Pretty bad pick in my opinion, but hey, what would the Wolves be without bad picks?
This is about the moment when everything became blurry. I knew that if Faried didn’t get drafted here, he was all ours. Anxiety began to fill my body, and naturally I took to Twitter to see if any deals were starting to emerge. All I could muster up in terms of how I felt was, “AAAhhhh, this is killing me!!! Faried is soooo close!!!”
When I noticed that the Nuggets and Trailblazers were on the verge of a deal that would send Felton to Portland in exchange for Miller, I looked towards the TV screen with an endless gaze of optimism. Something was up. I heard earlier that the two teams were having discussions about swapping picks, but until this point in time, nothing was imminent. As David Stern walked to the podium I froze, placed my hands to my face and stood there as the floodgates of my mind opened up, allowing images of Faried in a Nuggets jersey to cascade throughout my brain. Then… it happened. These next two quotes came directly from my notes, and were the last things I managed to write the entire night:
21. Nolan Smith, what is going on?!?!
22. Best moment of my life.
What I wrote for No. 22 was a bit of a stretch, but that’s how I felt at the time. Readers of this blog know how much I’ve wanted Faried since, well, the first time I even came on this blog to join up with Jeremy. No matter how many names fluctuated regularly on the Big Board, Faried was always our top guy, but with the Blazers slated to take him in nearly every mock draft by the most trusted draft “experts,” I figured he’d remain nothing more than ethereal dream. I tried to compare this feeling I was having to the one fans of a team like Cleveland must have felt when they drafted Lebron in 2003, but it wasn’t anything like that. Cleveland knew they were getting Lebron all along. They knew their franchise would forever be changed. For the Nuggets to land Faried this year, everything had to fall in place. He had to go through 21 teams to find his way to our roster, with the team right before us looking like a perpetual dead-end. Yet, it was happening. With the Stevie Wonder song, “For Once In My Life,” steadily growing louder in the back of my mind, I saw the long history of Denver Nuggets of draft failures flash before my eyes, and then vanish to the glowing sight of Faried in a Nuggets hat. For once on Draft Day, it seemed things were finally going our way… for once.
By the time Stern walked out from behind the shiny Denver Nuggets logos floating across the mega-screen above his diminutive frame, I was in an altered state of mind. This may sounds melodramatic, but I’m not even kidding you, I was out of it. Even when Stern said, “New Jeresey’s own,” and I knew that Faried hailed form Jersey, I still couldn’t come to grips with what was happening. The emotions running through my body naturally took over, and I began to jump up and down similar to the way I had two years ago when I heard Lawson was a soon-to-be Nugget. But this time was different. Unlike with Ty, I couldn’t stop jumping. I jumped, and jumped, and jumped, until I couldn’t jump any longer; and then I collapsed to the floor and lay there, mindless, staring up at the ceiling.
I had completely spazed out. There was no more gas left in me to move, no more voice left in me to cheer, no more thought left in me to think. I was numb.
After a while I realized how incredibly stupid I must have looked to my family, so I peeled my flimsy body up off the floor and sat down casually on the couch as if nothing had happened. Of course, the look on my mother’s face said it all. If she hadn’t felt I was crazy before now, this definitely did it. I’m not quite sure what I said as I glanced at her bewildered face, but I think it was something along the lines of, “I’m cool. No worries. Just got a little excited there. But I’m cool.”
For the next two hours of my life, my computer became a caravan of information as I journeyed through all the details of the rumored Felton-Miller trade. At first, the picks had reportedly been swapped, and upon hearing this, I was devastated. After soaring above Could Nine, I now found myself in the dark depths resentment. How stupid could I possibly be, overreacting the way I did, when I knew all along we’d been talking about trading the picks. I scolded myself for investing so much life, so much faith into this “dream,” when I should have stayed grounded all along. But then, more rumors, ones that said Faried was actually staying, and that as part of the deal we’d get the 26th pick in the draft. This breathed the life back into my soul, but I promised myself that before I would rejoice in anything from this draft, I would be absoutely certain it was true. And after hours of scanning the Internet for confirmation, it was finally provided by Benjamin Hochman in the form of a Tweet, of all things. Messy, fragmented and scattered, it read:
And that was that. The savvy Masai Ujiri had led the Denver Nuggets to one of the most successful drafts in franchise history by trusting the nuances of his scouting and making the most of disgruntled players with one year left on their contracts, just as he had done with a spoiled superstar only a few months earlier.
In the upcoming days Roundball will be bringing you detailed analysis on all of the Nuggets draft picks, as well what this historic draft means for current and future Nuggets. But for now, here are the basics: