Every year around this time ESPN introduces its annual #NBArank series codifying all 500 players in the NBA from least to most valuable. Last year Roundball Mining Company decided to get in on the action and began ranking each of the players on the Denver Nuggets’ final 15-man roster in the same fashion. We’ve polled all seven of our writers, asking them to arrange each player on the Nuggets roster from one to 15 (one being the best, 15 the least valuable), then we added everyone’s scores together to come up with a single, definitive list of the 15 “most valuable” Denver Nuggets. Checking in at number seven is Evan Fournier, skyrocketing up the board from his number 14 ranking a year ago.
When the Nuggets drafted Fournier out of France last season the scouting reports on him were all very similar. The young Frenchman didn’t possess incredible athleticism, but he could do a bit of everything but he also didn’t really excel at anything. For the first part of the 2013 season George Karl didn’t really give Fournier a chance, burying him on the bench with a string of DNP-CDs. But when Danilo Gallinari went down with his torn ACL the Nuggets had no choice and Fournier was forced into action.
When he did play Fournier looked like a rookie, flashing moments of usefulness with moments where he looked completely and utterly lost. Offensively Fournier looked the most comfortable creating a bit off the dribble as a secondary ball handler, and attacking the rim off the pick-and-roll. Fournier also shot the ball better than expected, knocking down 40 percent of his 54 three point attempts. Though the sample was small the form looked good and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Fournier continue to shoot the ball well in a larger role this season.
But like most young players Fournier has plenty of room to improve, especially on the defensive end of the floor where he was far from good as a rookie. As young players tend to do, Fournier looked lost at times last season on rotations– missing some, being late on others and making the wrong one on some plays. Fournier’s other problem tended to be his limited athleticism as despite being a big, long player for a shooting guard Fournier was torched by both point and shooting guards, giving up a 19.4 and 20.3 PER respectively to opponents.
Entering the season Fournier seems set to play significant minutes for the Nuggets. If he can continue to shoot the ball well, continue his passing (his 15.5 percent assist rate is the best of any Denver non-point guard), and improve his defense Fournier can expect to continue his climb on the #Nuggetsrank ladder. If not Denver could be in a lot of trouble this season and Fournier can enter next season at a career crossroads much like Jordan Hamilton this year.
15. Anthony Randolph
14. Quincy Miller
13. Timofey Mozgov
12. Jordan Hamilton
11. Randy Foye
10. Darrell Arthur
9. J.J. Hickson
8. Andre Miller
7. Evan Fournier