Nuggets destined to draft a small forward?

According to SI.com’s Sam Amick, the Nuggets have shown interest in drafting Iowa State’s Royce White with the 20th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Amick also mentions Baylor’s Quincy Miller and St. Johns’ Moe Harkless as possibilities with the team’s first-round selection. All three have one thing in common: Each is projected to play small forward in the NBA.

Much like the other two publicly known players — Terrence Ross and John Jenkins — whom the Nuggets have shown interest in by way of a pre-Draft workout, this most recent crop of small forwards is filled with names I’m pleased to hear. We’ll cover these players more in-depth in the near future but for now I wanted to briefly touch on the one guy Amick mentions directly in relation with the Nuggets, which is Royce White.

If you follow the Draft or college basketball in general you’re probably familiar with White, and subsequently the two main elements that comprise who he is both as a person and as a player.

White is one of, if not the, most versatile players in this year’s Draft. He stands a legitimate 6-foot-8, rebounds like power forward yet has the court vision and passing skills of a point guard. He can stretch the floor and drive the lane while also possessing the ability post up with efficiency and score over bigger opponents. In short, he’s hand-down one of the most talented players in the Draft and without a doubt, one of the most intriguing.

(For those unfamiliar with White, feel free to check out Youtube in order to gain a better understanding of what his game looks like. This, this and this are good starter videos.)

The problem? Like every “intriguing” prospect teeming with “potential” and “upside,” White has his his fair share of “concerns,” only his are a bit more unconventional.

Virtually all his life White has battled an anxiety disorder. In 2009-10 his troubles culminated when he plead guilty to theft and disorderly conduct charges after stealing merchandise from the Mall of America and shoving a security guard on his way out. Not long after, he was charged with trespassing and again accused of theft after a laptop disappeared from a college dorm the same night White and a group of his friends barged into numerous rooms without permission. White was not convicted of theft for the second time in only a matter of months, however his career at Minnesota was over before it even began.

Due to suspensions and NCAA transfer rules, White sat out two full seasons before finally being ruled eligible for the 2011-12 campaign where he played his first full year of collegiate basketball at Iowa State. He was originally scheduled to transfer to Kentucky, however his fear of flying prevented him from making the trip, and thus, signing with the Wildcats.

And here in lies the biggest problem with White: flying.

About the same time the “fasten seat-belts” sign goes off is about the same time his anxiety reaches its apogee. While he’s capable of flying, in no way is it conducive for his mental health. He frequently asks flight attendants if certain, routine sounds are normal and is stricken with a rapid heartbeat for essentially the entire flight. In addition to flying, White also gets nervous in the presence of large crowds and wakes up multiple times each night, often covered in sweat.

That said, it’s important to acknowledge the strides White had made over the last two years in regards to his anxiety and decision making. He’s now seeking more help than ever for his mental health struggles and has removed himself from any potentially troublesome run-ins with the law by establishing a strong support group of of trustworthy friends, teammates and professionals. He has publicly declared on numerous occasions that he is doing everything he can to stifle his anxiety issues and has made it clear that, although having made some glaring mistakes in the past, he’s not a bad person at heart.

So how should Nuggets fans feel about the team’s reported interest in such a risky investment? Good, for the most part. And here’s why:

Royce White is one of my favorite players in this Draft. He has been since Day 1. I’ve watched him on numerous occasions this past year and was thoroughly impressed each time. His game is so tantalizing and yet, so simple. He plays the right way and does whatever it takes to help his team pull out a win.

Furthermore, I’ve been impressed with his interviews and quotes in the media. He seems like a genuine, amiable guy who’s honest about his struggles and his attempt to overcome them. In terms of potential alone, he’s probably one of the top 5-10 prospects in the Draft. But his anxiety is a huge risk. And by huge, I mean huge.

It all boils down to flying. I hate saying it because I sympathize with him greatly, but the Nuggets (or any other team for that matter) simply cannot afford to use a first-round selection on a guy who can’t board the plane on any given night; however, if White is extremely confident in his ability to overcome his fear of flying and can convince the Nuggets that he’s ready to tackle this issue head on, then I’ll have no problem with the team taking him. But it’s imperative that he displays the commitment necessary for conquering such imposing mental obstacles. If White is in any way dubious about his abilities, the Nuggets must unfortunately cut ties with him and move on to culling their other top prospects.

Let’s just hope for the sake of White and the Nuggets, that his future is filled with a limited amount of turbulence.

(UPDATE: Mike Schmitz, a fellow TrueHoop contributor for Phoenix Suns blog, Vally of the Suns, has been composing video breakdowns of top prospects for DraftExpress.com. His most recent, which came out today (Monday), features non other than Royce White! Check it out here.)

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

    Nice report Kalen. I’ve been looking at the mock drafts and have seen White hovering around the late 1st round although comments about his talent list him as top 10 and I even saw a video on ESPN the other day with Doug Gottlieb putting him in the top 5 for his mock draft board.

    White certainly looks to have an NBA ready body and seems to do the right things on the court to help his team win, based on the clips and other scouting reports. My question, and I assume most other fans will have the same question, is what do we do with another SF?

    I also read on the ESPN rumour site that Jenkins is coming back for another workout, do we know if that is true and do we know who else the Nuggs are looking at brining in?

    Finally, remembering back to this time last year and reading your posts about the Manimal it was clear he was your favourite, do you have a favourite or favourites in this years draft and if so who are they?

    • Kalen

      The third “this” in parenthesis (fifth paragraph) is that video of Gottlieb. While he’s certainly not my favorite analyst, the fact he has White at No. 5 on his big board (ahead of guys like Kidd-Gilchrist, Perry Jones, Thomas Robinson, Jeremy Lamb and Jared Sullinger) says a LOT about the type of talent he possesses.

      As for White being a small forward, remember, this kid is extremely versatile and would have no problem playing power forward (his position in college) or even backup point guard (also his position in college on occasion). Though he’s a small forward in size, he’s really a utility guy in every sense.

      Yes, Jenkins is coming back for another workout. He should be gone by 38 and would be a huge reach at 20 so I’m not sure what the Nuggets are planning on doing with him.

      My first big board should be up in the next week. I don’t want to reveal who I have first, but I’ll tell you this: It will probably surprise you.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

        I watched the first two clips, however the third one said it was not available to my country, which is weird because if it is the clip you say then I watched it directly from ESPN.

        I like that he is versatile but that could also hurt him as he may struggle to find a defined role, remember our mid season issues with Brewer and others playing different roles.

        I look forward to seeing more reports as we get closer to the draft. Keep up the good work.

  • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

    *bringing

  • dynamo.joe

    The nba schedule is basically constructed as if the teams still traveled by bus. So if you really believed this guy was a game changer, why wouldn’t you take him even if you believed he couldn’t overcome his anxiety disorder.

  • Ray

    If we draft a small forward, it’s quite clear that the FO want to get rid of Chandler or Gallo very soon or before the next deadline. This guy looks good but whoever we draft will ride the pine all year thanks to GK.

  • http://nugznazty.wordpress.com/ owen

    so SF we have galo chandler and this guy?? sounds to me like we are looking hard at moving chandler… or galo??

  • steve

    Obviously they want to move chandler if they draft a SF in the 1st. I dont think they would invest 10 mill per on Gallo and then trade him. He’d be hard to trade at that salary especially now with his recent struggles.

    Also, if they do move Chandler or anyone else for that matter, they want picks in return. They are cheaper and with the extensions of Mcgee and Lawson coming up, they could use the flexibility. Maybe this is where Jenkins comes in. Would Minnesota give the 18th pick for Chandler? Beasley isnt the answer there and Chandler would bring some defense next to DWilliams and Love. Maybe the 14 or 16 pick from Houston since he’d be the perfect compliment at SF for KevMartin. Maybe we take Royce White a little earlier and then take Jenkins at 20. I think that’s a little high for Jenkins but they can always trade down a few spots as well.

    Going to be a fun offseason that’s for sure! :)

    • Guy

      The word is Minnesota wants a 2-guard like Ross or Waiters with the 18th pick but I think trading with Houston is a possibility if they don’t use their picks to go after Pau Gasol. Most of the projections I’ve seen have Jenkins taken at the very end of the 1st round where we might be able to entice say Chicago, Miami or OKC to trade their 1st round pick for our 2 2nd rounders. OKC will be trying to save money to pay Harden & Ibaka so they might not want to be locked into another 1st round contract. All this speculation sure is fun & there’s only a month to go.

  • denver4ever

    Draft him??? I’m sorry but what Denver needs to save their dignity as a franchise is that last piece/s to help them contend. Haven’t you remembered the Nuggets had a logjam at SF???

    • ThomasDenverFan

      He can play against guys bigger than him he has the skills to.be able to.compete he is about.the size Manimal is and can.shoot he would.be able.to.stretch the floor as well i would.prefer a bigger guy but he does have he skill to shoot pretty dam good

  • chris

    Royce White isn’t a small forward, at 6’8″ 270 he’ll be way to slow to stay in front of NBA wings. He’ll have better luck at PF/C like Boris Diaw, though he still won’t exactly be a defensive standout due to lack of length.

  • Ernie

    Eventually this team will be nothing but Centers and Small Forwards.

    • MileHigh

      This

  • DenverTerp35

    Royce White would be a FANTASTIC pick. Last year I begged, pleaded for the Nuggets to take Faried, I knew in my gut he would be a game changer. I have this same feeling about Royce White. My roommate in college is a HUGE Iowa State fan so I watched every ISU game with him and ever since I saw the kid I wanted the Nuggets to get him. He is a game changer and I believe his game will transition wonderfully to the NBA. He is so versatile, so strong, so good. The bigger the game, the better he plays. He was a fantastic player in close, big games in college and he would be a great asset off the bench for the Nuggets. His only problem is that he is not a great shooter and he likes to shoot, he also is a relatively poor free throw shooter. Those things are easy to coach, or tell him to not shoot if you want, the kid has the talent so if we take him at 20 I will be thrilled. If you dont want him on the Nuggets then you probably have not watched him play, this is just another young, talented guy that we can put on our roster. Make it happen Ujiri!

  • DAN

    I know we conjecture a lot, (that’s all we can do) but I wonder what the front office game plan actually is. Between all the interest we apparently have in small forwards and the Jenkins workouts it seems evident that something is going down. I would be very surprised if we actually pick at #20, at least if that’s our only pick in the first round.

  • Sky67

    This is just me but i would love if we traded both our second rounders,wilson chandler,and Mozgov to houston for their 14 and kevin martin.From ther we trade Martin to minnesota for their 18 and draft Arnette Moutrie with the 14,Dion Waiters with 18 and my favorite Royce White with the 20.I know this is crazy considering gk doesnt even play rookies but i dream big.This is my first post on this website and i apologize for any errors i may have made or am making but above all great article and im crossing my fingers that denver lands Royce White

  • Ricardo

    Because I’m noticing that Terrence Ross and Dion Waiters may be gone by the time the nuggets pick, the best option for them would be to get Royce White. He would be a player that would complement the nuggets’ system because he runs the court well, likes to attack the rim, and has good passing skills. White is also a great rebounder. And don’t forget he led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in his freshmen year. The nuggets may have to trade one of their small forwards, most likely Chandler, for him to have a defined role next season.

  • Up the nuggz

    Royce White- he could always just play home games…

  • Ryan

    Chad Ford has the Nuggets taking Marquis Teague at 20 in his latest mock draft, so I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in one person saying the Nuggets are dead-set on drafting a SF. I think we’re all getting the sense that there will be some sort of draft day trade, can’t wait to see how it all plays out

  • Aaa

    Tony wroten or marquis Teague for me. Super talented with a chance of playing

  • ThomasDenverFan

    I wouldn’t mind another combo guard that would be good to come off the bench with stone and i really hope we don’t resign Dre but if we do still would want a combo guard or power forward.

  • GK4Prez

    How would Sam Amick know what the Nuggets plans are and who they are targeting? GK wouldn’t play Royce much in his first year, so it would be the perfect opportunity to see if he can overcome his fear of flying. This is one situation where GK not liking to play rookies might be a benefit.

    But, the more I think about it, I think this rumor is more of a ploy to attempt to get some team targeting him after the Nuggets pick to move up to 20, like the Celtics who have the 21st and 22nd pick or to get some team picking in front of the Nuggets to take him hoping someone they are targeting more drops in their lap.

    I still wouldn’t mind the Nuggets taking Royce if the Nuggets stand pat and he is still available at 20. In the last link, on his weaknesses, his D reminds me of Melo. I have seen him compared to Diaw, but I think a better comparison is Anthony Mason.

  • GK4Prez

    If the Nuggets do trade down a few spots, I like a few players, but a PF with some decent post moves that wouldn’t be a bad target is Andrew Nicholson.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L66QmiB0xj4&list=PL7D1252E2D0D823A7&index=2&feature=plpp_video

  • Peter

    I think Royce White would be a great get at that point in the draft. You have to think Massai is going to do something in the draft to address our below average shooting situation. Jenkins is a nice player and I think he could become a solid NBA player since he has a go-to skill. I love Andrew Nicholson’s game, he has great touch and I think he is going to be an absolute steal for whoever gets him. He reminds me of Carl Landry with a better stroke. I really hope we don’t draft Marquis Teague, he’s not going to be any better than his brother who is a slightly above average nba player at best. He’s a pretty safe bet to be a decent pro, but if all we want out of this draft is a solid backup point guard that wont be enough to make us a contender. Unless the Nuggets can get a guard who is exactly who they want, we need to draft a big guy. You can never, EVER have too many productive bigs. The Celtics have lost Jermaine O’Neil and Chris Wilcox this season. Steimsma has stepped in nicely and they are still alive. Bosh’s injury has really handicapped Miami. You need bigs to contend in the NBA and especially in the west. I would love to see us draft Moultrie or Meyers Leonard if he’s still available at 20. Otherwise I would love to see us trade up to get a serious impact player.

  • Aaa

    I would much prefer Quincy miller. This guy was talked about as a top 5 pick before he blew out his knee. He is ultra talented with a smooth Kevin durant style. Now his jump shot is nowhere near as good obviously but it has potential .

    By drafting him I’m working under the assumption that chandler or gallo is to be traded and that Hamilton plays more as a two guard

    Royce white wouldn’t be a terrible pick at all but I think he is awfully close to his ceiling from what I’ve watched and read.

    Denver needs to go for more of a project player (ie Quincy miller, tony wroten) with lots of talent because regardless of who we get they aren’t getting much playing time. Why pick up a guy who has been compared to as a boris Diaw level role player ( which there is no denying can be handy) who won’t receive minutes behind other guys who already fill this role. And I think we quit while we are ahead on drafting undersized power forwards

    I’m also very keen on trading up using one of gallo, chandler to get a perry jones or Harrison Barnes.

    I think kalen floated the idea before that perhaps we could tempt bobcats into a trade for the no. 2 pick. We could use chandler and gallo, pick 20 and second round picks to offer. We could even take back tyrus Thomas’ contract. And obviously since we would be giving up our small forwards we would pick up Kidd gilchrist who would thrive in an established team that loves to get out in transition and is not expected to be the top scorer at least for a few years.

    This trade would probably never happen but it makes sense for Denver if Charlotte would do it which I have no bearing.

    • Aaa

      Take back the thing about his potential. Hes got something

    • steve

      i cant see the nugs trading up to 2 and taking MKG. I’m a Kentucky college fan and love MKG BUT he’s not a player you trade away half your team for. I think he’ll be a Gerald Wallace type player but doesn’t have the size GW does. He’s passionate and has potential but he’ll never be a lights out shooter. He plays with alot of passion and will always be around the ball, but we have that in Faried. We can’t be handicapped offensively with both Faried and MKG on the floor who neither will ever be that consistant shooting the ball.

  • Alberto

    Why don’t Nuggets trade Wilson Chandler for the first pick of Raptors because I remember that they where interested in him…
    With this trade Nuggets would get Rivers or Drummond and we would give a 7 million contract to Raptors to re-sign Lawson and Mcgee…

    • Ricardo

      The nuggets would have to give up more than just Chandler to resign McGee and Lawson, they may also have to trade or amnesty Anderson.

      • http://nuggets.proboards.com LotharBot

        Actually, the Nuggets are in good enough financial shape that they could resign JaVale and extend Ty and still remain under the tax line, without dumping anybody else.

        Nobody needs to be moved for financial reasons. The only reason to make a Chandler move or an Andersen move is if it makes basketball sense. Chandler for a mid-lotto pick would probably get us a player who fits better, so it’s a good move.

        • Ricardo

          Agreed, but trading or amnestying Anderson would still give the nuggets more flexibility for the future.

  • Omar

    Dion Waiters and Royce White are the guys to draft. Both those guys can come in and be impact players right away. Especially waiters who can play multiple positions and be a great scorer off the bench. Royce will be there at #20 but we would have to move chandler to get waiters.

  • FinazzAus

    You can’t take a guy who can’t flight. He might say his getting over it. But in any business do you pay a guy millions in the hope he can get over his fears. Remember at taking someone in the first round your garenteeing them a contact. I think the shorts would be a third year team option. As much talent as he may have, if I was a GM I wouldn’t be taking him until the secound round atleast then you can have him in your camp as look at him before it’s cost you a mint

  • DAN

    Really think Arnett Moultrie is an interesting player. If we could trade up a little we may be able to get him. He’s very long and athletic, at 6′ 11″ and could play the 4 or 5 and can knock down a jumper. I say trade Mozzy and Chandler to trade up take Moultrie then Moe Harkless at 20.