Denver Nuggets 2012 NBA Draft Options

I look forward to the NBA Draft every June.  I love it.  All 30 teams belly up to the craps table, some will win big and some will lose big.  Opportunities will present themselves, difficult choices must be made.  Of course, there will be many players drafted who never accomplish a thing, but that makes it all the more interesting to me.

The Denver Nuggets are poised to make a splash.  They have a roster full of quality players going two deep at every spot, fifteen picks over the next five drafts and a large trade exception.  They can be as active as they want to be.

So what should the Nuggets be looking to accomplish on Thursday night?  What do they really need?

If you are looking for holes on the roster that need to be filled, they are few and far between.  Denver could use a bigger power forward, think Arnett Moultrie, to be a complimentary backup to the undersized, but ferocious Manimal who can step in after Al Harrington has been sent out to pasture.  Depending on how the front office views Julyan Stone, they may need a backup point guard.  I do not think either of those are so pressing the Nuggets must draft a power forward or a point guard no matter what.  Because they have such a solid roster, they can afford to draft the best player available.

That sounds great, but taking the best player available is a cliché.  Who is the best player available?  Is it the player who can contribute soonest?  The safest pick?  The player with the most potential?  Does the definition of best player available change at different points during the draft?

With Denver slated to draft 20th overall and having such a complete roster, drafting safe does not make much sense.  In their situation, adding another player who should be nothing more than a solid contributor will do little to advance the franchise.

I believe the Nuggets need to go for potential over safety.  The only way for the 20th pick to make a mark on the future of the franchise is if they become an above average player, dare I say a fantastic player.  If they swing for the fences and miss, will it really set the franchise back?  You hate to blow draft picks, but if the 20th pick does not pan out, the Nuggets are not going to miss the playoffs next season.

So who is that player who will be sitting there waiting to change the fortunes of the Nuggets?  If there was an obvious answer to that question, he would probably be gone before Denver has a chance to draft him.  However, we know that all-star caliber players can be available in the twenties.  You just need some great scouting and a little luck.  (For my money, I believe that player is Quincy Miller, but I am not the draft expert I used to be.)

That being said, because the Nuggets have such a deep roster if they do not believe such a player is available, they have the option of trading their pick for a future first rounder.  Of course, a future first round pick can be either a lottery ticket or a Rockies ticket.  It can tantalize you with potential while ultimately delivering nothing of substance.  However, as noted above, Denver already has a phalanx of draft picks they possess over the next few years.  Those picks can be packaged to move up, or as part of a package to acquire a player.  One future first may be somewhat meaningless, but combined with the picks in Denver’s arsenal, it could be much more.

Of course, more fun than trading down is trading up.  There has been a great deal of speculation, at least among the comments on RMC, that Denver can package a player, players and a pick or picks to move up in the draft.  This is certainly a strong possibility as well that is afforded management thanks to their depth, three picks in the 2012 draft and plethora of picks in upcoming drafts to fiddle with.  If there is a player the Nuggets want, they have the ammo to go after him.  I will say that with the depth in this draft class, Denver has a great shot at acquiring just as good of a player at 20 as they would at 10 or 15 so trading up, unless there is one player they are positive is going to be a star, does not make much sense.

Moving on to the second round, the Nuggets also own picks 38 and 50.  I think it is fairly obvious that Denver does not need to add three rookies to the roster.  First of all, in order to add three players, Denver would have to get rid of one or two that they are probably not planning on parting with.  What do they do with those other two picks?

Again, they have options.  They can sell them, which is not fun for fans, but sure can help pay for the new contract that JaVale McGee will likely sign.  They can package them and trade up.  The consensus is that this draft is roughly 40 players deep.  If there is a player they really like sitting there in the early second round, they can use those two picks, or combine one with one of the future second round picks they own to move up and snatch him.  Another option would be to draft an international player or two and hope to hit the jackpot there.  Of course, trading out and stockpiling future second rounder selections is always possible as well.

Needless to say, I certainly do not expect the Nuggets to draft three players who are all expected to be on the roster for the 2012-13 season.

We know that the Nuggets front office will not just be sitting on their hands.  Following on the heels of last year’s draft night deal that brought Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton and Rudy Fernandez to town I expect them to do something.  Of course, I could be wrong, they may decide the best course of action based on the options presented to them is to stay put and submit their three picks.  That is the beauty of the NBA Draft.  There is just no way to know what is about to happen.

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  • Manimal

    Quincy miller. Yessir

  • GK4Prez

    Brewer and Fernandez came in a later deal. I know what you meant, and it was a good trade, but it happened during training camp and not on the night of the draft.

    I believe that free agency starts on Sunday, so the Nuggets should be busy and in the news for a while.

    • owen

      we traded a 2nd to the mavs for brewer and ferny

    • Jeremy

      You are absolutely right GK4Prez, shame on me for putting too much trust in my faulty memory.

  • owen

    I think some of the better value is going to be from 15-23. Good year to be at 20. I wish we could trade the 2 2nd rounders for maybe the 30 pick, then trade chandler and the 30 for somewhere round 15.

    WHERES CHU CHU MACHOMANDABOOM AT? haven’t heard anything about him in awhile..

    • Jeremy

      I suspect we will get a good look at Chu Chu in Summer League next month. I have no idea what to expect from him.

      • GK4Prez

        I never even thought of that. It would be great if he is on the SL team because it would provide many of us with the chance to see him play. He will finally get himself a youtube highlight clip….lol

  • coxy

    its gotta be chandler for 15/pilly or 16/rockets and then 38 and 50 for 29 or 30
    then draft perry nicholson and jenkins

    or perry marshal if he falls to 20 and jenkins

    • Zack

      They are sure making it sound like the Rockets are stockpiling picks to entice Orlando to trade Dwight Howard to them. I think Chandler for one of the Rockets picks (either 14 or 16) makes sense, but I’m not sure if they’ll do it (especially if they are in fact getting as many picks as possible to trade to the Magic.

      Where will Miller fall to, do you think? He should be better this year (because last year he was still recovering from the ACL injury). If Perry Jones III falls to us, we have to take him if we’re drafting purely on potential and risk/reward right? If he figures everything out and works hard, he can be a top 5 player to come out of this draft class. If not, he’s still 6’11” with plenty of skill.

  • asdqqq

    I disagree a little without your draft philosophy for the Nuggets. Looking for superstars at 20 is a fool’s errand. There just aren’t likely to be any around, and if there are, they aren’t going to be people you can identify as a superstar or else they would have been picked earlier. A pure potential strategy means the most likely outcome is paying guaranteed money to a player who can’t play in the NBA, taking up valuable cap space and a roster spot.

    But there are probably a few quality players available at 20 (and a lot of scrubs). The first priority should be getting one of those players, someone with an elite skill that translates to the NBA and means they can play in the league. After that, then you can pick between those players based on potential. Look at the stars or potential stars that have been drafted late and they all seem to run along this line, guys like Faried (elite rebounder), Hamilton (elite shooter), or Lawson (elite penetrator) that the Nuggets have drafted or guys like Rondo (elite defender), Monta Ellis (elite penetrator), or Arenas (elite penetrator) that have been drafted by other teams. I can’t think of a single late round star who didn’t have an elite skill coming into the league, though I could be wrong.

    Also, I think the days of the Nuggets selling draft picks are gone. Ujiri is, first and foremost, a scout, and I think he really relishes the draft. I think he’ll have plenty of international stash players in mind to pick if he doesn’t use those second rounders in some trade.

    • Jeremy

      I agree, drafting for that home run means you are more likely to strike out, and I said as much in the post. My concern is what player in that range, even if he has am elite skill is going to get playing time in Denver? If the Nuggets are ever going to take the next step, they need a player who will be better than just good. They have plenty of good to go around.

      My overall point was, Denver can afford to be aggressive and with the rumors of them working with GS to get the seventh pick, whether they are true or not, is along those lines.

      • asdqqq

        “My concern is what player in that range, even if he has an elite skill is going to get playing time in Denver?”

        Next year? Probably not much playing time for any rookie, period, in that range or any range. Not with Karl. With this team and coach, we have to look at a longer timetable. Hamilton and Faried are essentially are rookies this year, and we are drafting next years rookies this year. The team could look very different by the time next year comes around, so need shouldn’t be a concern.

        I totally agree that our rotation needs to get better, not deeper. But gathering good players and consolidating them through trade into a great player is, in my opinion, at least a marginally more productive way to get a great player than going for home run picks late in the draft.

        If we can move up into the top 10, then we’ve got a different story. Drafting there is a whole different ball game. I’m definitely willing to roll the dice on a Drummond at 7 rather than take a safer Waiters or Lilliard.

  • DH

    I guess the Nuggets’ needs depend on what the FO’s vision is for this year and beyond. Personally, I want them to let Andre and Rudy go, amnesty Bird, and trade Al. In other words, I want them to go all in on the youth movement, with the idea of being a force in 2 or 3 years (either with the continued development of all the young players, or more likely with a combination of that and a major trade or two at some point).

    The team as currently constructed could build on last years “success”. But there’s no way this team can contend, yet. However, if we do keep our current roster mostly in tact (let’s say we keep Al and Andre and let Rudy and Bird go), then our needs are…

    1. A taller/longer power forward to contend with guys like Gasol defensively and on the boards (not to replace Faried, but to complement him).

    2. Outside shooting.

    3. Perimeter defense.

    Actually, you could put those three things in any order, as they are all important.

    If we went with my “youth movement” plan, we would need…

    1) A taller/longer power forward.

    2) A “stretch 4” type (and in an ideal world, this would be the same guy as #1 above).

    3) Outside shooting.

    4) A backup point guard – either someone speedy like Ty (but hopefully a little taller) or a guy who can play the “1” and the “2” and can shoot.

    5) Perimeter defense.

    This draft is so deep that I think it would be a big mistake not to make at least 2 picks. So I wouldn’t want to trade our #20, for example, for a future 1st round pick. I think there will be great value at 20 and 38, and I would like #50 to be used on the best available young foreign prospect who we can stash overseas for a few years.

    If we can move up in the draft maybe 5-8 spots (wouldn’t cost us nearly as much as trying to move up more), the guys I love who might be available there are Moultrie, Zeller, and Ross. I could spend a lot of time explaining why I really like each of them, but I’ll spare you that.

    If we stay at 20, I like several of the usual suspects… Nicholson, Jenkins, Quincy Miller, Tyshawn Taylor, Will Barton, Royce White, Jared Sullinger(?). I like the upside of Nicholson, Miller, and Barton the most. And I think Miller, White, and Sullinger have the most questions surrounding them. If the Nuggets like several of these players, they should explore trading down to the end of the first round or very beginning of the second. Some of these guys are sure to be available and we could pick up an extra asset.

    As for the #38 pick, I’ll discuss this under Kalen’s thread, since he covers the second round.

    • DH

      I hate to reply to my own post, but I completely to forgot to mention Jeff Taylor as a possibility at #20. I think the kid is really being overlooked. I wish he was a little longer (he has a short reach), but he should be a quality defender with the ability to hit threes and a little better all-around game than he’s given credit for.

  • Chris

    Glaring need is AAA starting at shooting gaurd.
    we need some one explosive, and can be a real difference maker

  • Chris

    Glaring need is AAA starting at shooting gaurd.
    we need some one explosive, and can be a real difference maker, OJ Mayo, or Eric Gordon

  • DH

    Wow! Chris Broussard is reporting that Denver is discussing a trade with Golden State that would involve Wilson Chandler (and I assume our #20 pick) for their #7 pick??? That sure changes things.

    On one hand, that’s a nice return for a redundant player. On the other hand, this draft (IMHO) has a clear top 5 or 6, then a drop-off. There don’t seem to be one or two other players who are clearly top-7 worthy. In other words, the player drafted at 7 might not be much better of a prospect than the one drafted at 10 or 12 or even 14, possibly. Or, to put it another way, if we are interested in 2 or 3 players at #7, one or more of them might still be there several spots later.

    So, in a sense, it might be better to see if we could give up less (even if Chandler is still part of the deal) or get more by trading into the 10 to 14 range. Or maybe we could do the deal and then trade down to that range and pick up another asset. However, if the Nuggets do have their eye on a particular player and they think he’s a top-7 talent, then they should absolutely go for it.

    It will be very interesting to see how this turns out.

    • steve

      honestly if that trade happens and we stay at 7 and not move any further up or even down a couple, i think it’s safe to say we are taking Barnes or Waiters whomever falls. It wont be drummond with a guy like Mcgee already on the squad. It could be Lillard but i think Waiters is just a bulldog and exactly what we need.

      • DH

        As a guy who bleeds “North Carolina blue”, and who has seen almost every game Barnes has played, I reluctantly have to say that I wouldn’t take him anywhere in the first half of the first round. He’s really going to struggle unless he goes to the perfect team where the pressure is low and he only has to concentrate on shooting until the other parts of his game come around. Just my two cents.

        • Colby

          Nuggets would be a great fit for Barnes. The pressure would be low like you said he needs and he wouldn’t be expected to do too much.

          • DH

            I see what you’re saying, but I want a guy who’s going to make a bigger impact, sooner. Plus, I’m not convinced his weaknesses (terrible ball handling, poor defense, bad decision making) will ever come around – at least not to the level expected from an early first-round pick. I hope I’m wrong about him, though.

  • gfacekillah8

    the only way i think we should trade chandler is if it puts us in the top 7 and we can take a shot at either Drummond or Waiters. They are the two guys who could really turn into superstars that would be available at that time. trading chandler and 20 for anything less than a top 7 pick would be foolish. if we can’t get either of those guys at 7 then i would rather we just hold on to 20 and take Royce White. he would be a great complement to our second unit.

    if we cant draft a potential superstar then we just have to stay young and hope that one of our current players grows into one. i think Ty and Javale could really become those difference makers.

    our team:
    PG – Ty, Julyan, 2nd rd pick
    SG – AAA, Brewer, Hamilton
    SF – Gallo, Chandler
    PF – Manimal, Harrington, White
    C – Mcgee, Mozgov, KK

    that is an extremely competitive team.

    • DH

      I wouldn’t trade Chandler and #20 for anything less than #7, either. But what if we could give up Chandler and a lesser asset (maybe #38 or both 2nd round picks) for a pick in the 10-14 range AND keep #20? That would be interesting.

      Another possibility is making the trade for #7 and packaging that with something else to move into the top 5. At least two of the teams picking in the top 5 have expressed an interest in trading down.

      Whatever we do, I hope we aren’t targeting Austin Rivers. My opinion is that he will be a cancer (could be wrong, but I’m sticking with it). I’m also not high on Jeremy Lamb at all. Those are the two guys I would stay away from if we pick 7th.

    • DH

      As for Drummond and Waiters, I would add Lillard to those two. What an incredible one-two punch we would have with Ty and Lillard (Lillard would have the opportunity to torch the other team’s second unit). At least 2 of those 3 guys will be available at #7. I’m not sold on Waiters, personally, but that’s just my opinion. Drummond is the ultimate risk/reward pick. If he’s there at 7, I think you have to take him.

  • GK4Prez

    I have seen Lillard play a few times, and while he is very good at scoring, he got lit up on the other end by the opposing pg in the games that I did see. I can only imagine what NBA level pg’s will do against him when he will be forced to guard them.

    • DH

      I see what you’re saying, but he’ll mostly be going against backup PG’s – at least in his first couple of years. In that scenario, the matchup should be strongly in his favor on most nights. And with any luck, he’ll improve on defense. He has the athleticism.

      • GK4Prez

        So, if the Nuggets were able to get the 7th pick, you would use it on a guy that will be coming off the bench in very limited minutes for a couple of seasons?

        • DH

          Nope. I said mostly against backups, not only against backups. If he plays 20-25 minutes his first couple of years and helps our second unit dominate while holding his own for the most part when he’s facing starters not named Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, or Tony Parker (and who doesn’t lose those battles?), and then he turns into a starting caliber PG after that, then yeah, I think that’s worth a #7 pick.

          James Harden (different position, different type of player, but still) didn’t do much his first year or two, doesn’t start, and is now being talked about as a max-deal player. His ability to destroy the other team’s second unit, and to also be one of the top weapons against starters, is one of the key ingredients in OKC’s success. But he didn’t start out that way. And I don’t think OKC regrets spending a #3 on him, right?

          Anyway, other than Anthony Davis, I’m not sure who in this draft would step in as a starter on the Nuggets from Day 1. Almost any #7 draft pick will get “limited minutes” and will have to develop in some way while playing behind someone else. And I tend to give stronger consideration to PG’s (all else being equal), because I think it’s the most important position in the NBA.

  • GK4Prez

    I disagree on the pg being the most important position in the NBA, look at this year’s championship team, and then look back at the Lakers. Neither team had a dominant pg and they managed to get the job done just fine.

    Harden is a decent example, but the guy does play over 30 minutes a night, so he is basically a starter and would start on most teams in the NBA. Drummond at 7 makes sense because he is a project, Lillard on the other hand, needs a situation where he will be a starter from day one imo, and that isn’t going to happen in Denver.

    I am not going to say that I am right and you are wrong because I can see valid points on both sides of this debate, so I will just agree to disagree with you on Lillard.

    • DH

      With Harden, I was trying to make the point that he didn’t start out playing over 30 mpg. And I would expect Lillard to be a guy that would start on most other teams after year 2 or 3, like Harden.

      But you make good points, and there really is no way to know who’s right for now. So I agree to disagree, also. And I’ll even go farther and say that if his defense is truly atrocious *and it can’t be fixed*, then you are right. The last thing we need is another defensive liability.

  • GK4Prez

    The draft is a crap shoot. Nobody is right or wrong for a year or two….lol

    • DH

      No, the Bobcats are always wrong. 😉

  • GK4Prez

    Here is a link to a decent scouting video on Lillard:

    • DH

      Nice, thanks! Definitely some red flags. But you could say that about most guys, I guess.

  • Aaron

    Why Not Do The Trade With The Celtics That Kalen Made Up, And Get The 3 Picks in a Row, And Draft Perry Jones, Sullinger, And Fab Melo? Sullinger Would Be GREAT With Faried (Starting Or Back Up) And Also Harrington Would Be Gone (included in The Celtics Trade) So Sullinger Or Faried Would Fill in That Spot Even Better. Jones Would Be The 6th Man Of The Year Backing Up Gallo Sense Chandler Was Also included in The Celtics Trade. Jones Could Also Play PF if One Of The PF’s Got injured. Fab Melo Would Fit in BEASTLY With McGee (if We Re-signed Him) Just Imagine That For a Second. 2 Extremely Athletic 7 Foot Centers That Can Dominate if They Get Trained The Right Way.
    This Would Also Set Denver Up Amazingly For The Next 8-12 Years.

  • FstbrkJM

    I find it odd, and a little interesting, that has the Nuggets taking Kendall Marshall @ #20. That will never happen.