So you’re telling me there’s a chance

Messing around on my computer after I got home from work on Tuesday, I did the usual “Start randomly clicking on things and an hour later you’re pensively browsing the Greater Roadrunner entree on Wikipedia” routine, when in the process I ended up at ESPN’s 2014 Lottery Mock Draft generator — which is not a very productive place to find yourself if your favorite NBA team is in the lottery. At first I hit the “Play Lottery” button as a way to see all the different scenarios in which teams like the Lakers, Pistons and Bucks could maneuver in the top half of the lottery. And then I realized something. I realized the Nuggets actually have a chance of moving up into one of the top three spots on draft night. And although it’s a long shot —  a very long shot — the possibility alone intrigued me enough to write 800 words about the subject, which is 800 more words than I was planning on writing this evening.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 5.37.07 PM

What you see above is the end result of clicking the “Replay Lottery” button roughly 30 times. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I did plan on clicking that button as many times as I had to until the Nuggets ended up moving into one of the top three spots of this fictitious, highly manipulative, dream-shattering graphics generator. Whether I would have actually gone through with this plan after about half an hour of repeatedly clicking the “Replay Lottery” button is a question that will never get answered (thankfully) but my guess is that I would have done it (sadly) for as long as it would have taken because that’s what true fans do (unfortunately): They sit around on their computers all day long thinking of nearly impossible ways for their team to obtain potential Hall-of-Fame caliber players.

During this vegetative mental state I was struck by an epiphany; a rather dull, unimaginative one, but an epiphany nonetheless — that being: What if the Nuggets do in fact move up into one of the top three spots in the draft? What casual NBA fans — and even hardcore ones who don’t necessarily follow the draft closely — need to realize is that this is the deepest crop of players near the top of the lottery that we’ve seen in at least a decade. There are legitimately 10 players in this draft who stand a real chance of being named an All-Star at some point in their career and by my estimation a handful of those are going to be All-Stars nearly every year. And while there may not be any LeBrons or Durants, there are more than a few who could end up being Westbrooks and Wades.

If the Nuggets move up in the lottery it will be monumental, a date forever cemented in Denver lore and talked about for decades to come. It will be 2003 all over again, only this time the Nuggets will already have a roster that could challenge for a title should the player they select be anywhere near as good as Carmelo Anthony. Yet while this is no doubt one of the more titillating scenarios to ponder as a fan, there still exists reality — unfortunately — and that reality says the Nuggets only stand about a 1.5 percent chance of winning the lottery even after you combine both the 11th and 12 pick odds (Denver’s own and New York’s) together.

There have been numerous leaps in NBA lottery history, the most recent coming in 2008 when the Chicago Bulls won the rights to the No. 1 overall pick after securing the ninth worst record in the NBA that year and having only a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery. Teams with the seventh and eighth worst records have also won the lottery once respectively since 1990 when the weighted lottery system was introduced. But the biggest jump occurred in 1993 when the Orlando Magic won after having the 11th worst record in the league and only a 1.5 percent chance of landing the top pick; it should be noted, however, that in 1993 the weighted system was different than is currently constructed, giving teams in the back of the lottery (i.e., where the Nuggets are this year) much higher chances of winning. Two more significant jumps occurred in 1990 when the Seattle Supersonics moved up to second overall to select Gary Payton after having the 10th worst record in the NBA, and in 1999 when the Charlotte Hornets landed the third overall pick after finishing with the 13th worst record in the NBA that year.

Between the two picks the Nuggets currently own at 11 and 12, they possess an extremely small chance of moving up. Since the weighted system was introduced in 1990 teams picking 11th or lower have moved up only twice. But while numbers, history and pure luck likely won’t be with the Nuggets come lottery selection night, it certainly won’t prevent guys like me, and hopefully fans like yourself, from feeling like Lloyd Christmas appraising his chances with Mary Swanson in the meantime.

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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.
  • Heisenberg

    Not to harp on previous discussions, but their odds should be much better. This team should have tanked the moment they discovered Gallo wasn’t coming back. They could have, at worst, had the 9th pick (NO and Cleveland were both close).

    Denver’s biggest mistake was not in firing Karl, but that they had no real direction after Iggy left. To me, if you’re going to fire Karl then you might as well start over and blow up the roster. Now we’re stuck with a team that, barring a lottery miracle, has no star player and is over the cap for the next few years. They’re a low end playoff seed at best, and if they make it, they’ll be out in the first round. This team has zero chance of winning a seven game series against the likes of OKC, San Antonio, etc etc.

    I know people hate Iggy, but he was a valuable contributor. He’s a damn good perimeter defender and brings a bit to the table offensively. The Nuggets just aren’t as good without him. Not only is he miles better than Foye, but he was arguably Denver’s best player last year (you could also argue Gallo, but that’s irrelevant). But hey, at least we can watch McGoof derail games again! Hooray! Karl’s face says it all.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVMJFBgcgRM

    • Aaron Durkin

      Tanking does not work. I think you want the team to become the T wolves. 7 top 5 picks no playoffs

      • Heisenberg

        They need a star, and the only way to get one is through the draft. I don’t see LeBron saying “I’m taking my talents to the Rocky Mountains.”

        Minnesota just made some bad picks. And they didn’t have 7, they had like 3.

      • gimpcom187

        Weve been over this. The stats say you get one of your top 2 players from a top 5-10 pick if you want to make the conference finals. You become a perrenial loser if you have bad ownership.

  • Richard Pesicka

    I’d rather go watch the Harlem Globetrotters. The Nuggets are going to start seeing empty seats at home games. Poor management and lousy trades. We could be Utah or Orlando. We are trying very hard to hit the basement every year, and I think we now have the means and ways to do just that.

    • Cullen

      Do you get tied or leaving comments like this? Isn’t it just exhausting?

      • Richard Pesicka

        You on the other hand are relying on a draft in which the Nuggets have already pointed out they have no money for. That means, and let me try to explain it, no money means they can’t sign anyone unless they have money, which is the same as cash. So unless someone wants Mcgood, and I don’t even see the worst team taking him, then it’s a draft in which the Nuggets can’t afford. Unless I’m wrong, and I’d really like to be.

        • Heisenberg

          Teams are allowed to sign their picks to rookie scale contracts even if they’re over the cap.

      • Nugman

        See above. Aren’t your comments that show a complete lack of basketball knowledge a bit exhausting? If you would actually write anything that showed any basketball knowledge I would be shocked

        • Cullen

          “Why do you young Shaw lovers have to personally attack anyone who doesn’t agree with your opinion?” Notice the contradiction? Me too. I do not personally attack people, I attack their method for addressing and approaching the current state of Nuggets basketball. You ad-hom attack more than me. He has the right to post as he wishes, and I have every right to post attacks to his method of pessimism. Nowhere did I attack him as a person. Check yourself before pointing the finger, Nugman.

        • Cullen

          I also think you create a false distinction between supporting Shaw= loving Shaw. I have openly criticized Shaw and will freely admit that Karl is the better coach at this point and time. Supporting giving Shaw a chance and not calling for his head=/=loving Shaw. Soooo reductionist.

        • Thomas

          All of you are exhausting with your endless posting on the same views, over and over again.

          • Darian Williams

            what else is there to talk about?

    • Cullen

      I mean really, this adds nothing to the draft conversation. Why come on the message boards if all you are going to do is just dump on the Nuggets? It’s annoying and your post really had NOTHING to do with the draft.

      • Nugman

        He has just as much right to post his opinion as you do yours. Why do you young Shaw lovers have to personally attack anyone who doesn’t agree with your opinion? Grow up!

  • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

    Very good roundup, and however sobering it is to realize just how slim our chances are of moving up (also that it’s “Top 3 or stay where you are”, nothing in between, weird rules, anyway), it is tantalizing to think about what if we grabbed even just the third spot? If we had the pick of the field, which player should we go for?
    Wiggins for his athleticism?
    Parker for his scoring and basketball IQ?
    Randle for his hustle and toughness?
    Embiid for his potential to finally exorcise the Ghost of Mutombo?
    Or Exum for his shooting and playmaking?

    Each one would prompt additional moves as well.

    If we stay at 11, I see Chad Ford really prefers Tyler Ennis for the Nugs (that’s the most frequent choice). I don’t really understand that, since Ty Lawson is our best player. Why not go for Stauskas, McDermott or hell, even Saric?

    Which one would you take at #1, and then, which player would you take at #11, given that the top 8 or so go exactly as projected?

    • LBJ

      I saw a mock draft on CBS that had the nuggets picking Marcus Smart. I seem to recall Ennis going a couple of picks before that.

    • Andrew

      I totally agree with you on Ennis. If we had the 3rd pick, I still like Randle. I think Parker will be a good one, if not a great one. Exum seems to have that greatness potential. Embiid scares the crud out of me with that bad back. I hope he ends up having a long career, but he looks like another big man bust. I would not take the chance on him unless I had two first round picks and/or he falls far enough to justify taking a chance. I’m really hoping for Randle or Vonleh. I just think it would be easier to go and get the defensive SG the Nuggs need through a trade than the big defensive PF they need. I even think the Nuggets could get AAA back from Orlando…

    • Heisenberg

      If Denver gets the third pick they should either take Wiggins, Embiid, or Parker. In that order, too, pending the results of Embiid’s medicals (which the public probably won’t know).

  • Andrew

    So funny, Kalen, I did that with the Lottery Machine just the other day, and then I did not play it again after the Nuggets “got” Wiggins. Superstitious, I guess. I also think it is interesting that the Machine now has the Nuggets taking either Ennis or Stauskas every time they do not get a top 3 pick.
    I recall somebody on here is a big fan of getting Stauskas. Anyone have thoughts on those two guys or anyone else? I know the upside on Wiggins is too big to pass up, but I still like Randle. The guy seemed to play big in the Tourney and seems
    like he could help the Nuggs immediately.

    • LBJ

      While I agree Randle will very likely be an outstanding pro, drafting him would give us yet another PF. It would also likely end Faried’s tenure with the nuggets.

    • Heisenberg

      Randle has no midrange jumper. He’ll be a decent contributor, but you seem to be overrating him.

      • Andrew

        Well, nobody is paying me to be a scout (shockingly), so you could be right about that. We’ll see.

    • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

      “I recall somebody on here is a big fan of getting Stauskas.”

      That would be me, I think.

      I don’t know. I just like him. I saw him play a few games this year, and he plays smart basketball. He’s not super-fast, he doesn’t play great man defense and he isn’t that flashy. But he’s a lights-out shooter in his sleep, incredibly smart and therefore capable of adapting into a good team defender and deceptively strong and powerful for his stature.

      I saw Ennis in a few games as well, and he’s undeniably talented. But there is a lingering “will he be Damian Lillard or Jonny Flynn?” aura about him. He’ll have to change a lot of his style to adapt to the NBA, and that might be tricky.

  • Andrew

    Also, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Shaw and his assistants are going to do wonders with McGee in the offseason and get him to play much better and more consistent next year. I know the odds are against that happening, but I have a feeling that he will make strides like Mozzillagod did this year.

    • LBJ

      Yep, that is way out on a limb. I’m not holding my breath on that happening.

    • Cullen

      I think it’s possible, but not counting on it. My prediction is McGee turns into an okay backup center with Mosgov starting.

      • Andrew

        Probably true.

  • gimpcom187

    If I were the nugs and they luck into top 3: embiid if healthy is my first choice, wiggins and exum (depending on scouts takes are my next choice. I would also take the temperature on a ty trade to pick up vonleh sacramento and detroit being possibilities. But im an unabashed lets get a star and hit the restart button.

    If they end up 11 I try to trade chandler and pick for vonleh. Otherwise unless one of the euros is the real deal I think the guys max out at decent starter.

    • Heisenberg

      Trading Ty is an interesting idea. I wonder if the Lakers would agree to it. If they end up with the 6th or 7th pick they might not like anyone available. Plus they want to get Kobe one more shot at a ring. Meh, something to think about.

    • Cullen

      I can definitely see the interest in trading up. I really like Ty, but agree he could be tradable. I wonder if it would be better to trade Ty in a package deal for an “already in the NBA player” would be a smarter route. It’s just scary to risk an established player for people who might not pan out, ya know?

      • gimpcom187

        Id only seriously consider trading ty if they got a top 3 pick. Thats their star at that point and theyre hoping vonleh can be their #2. The other reason is that ty is already 27 next november. Hes a speed athleticism pg who is short. Those pg tend to show decreased value around 31 and backups by 33. See kevin johnson, allen iverson, baron davis etc etc. I would try to get something else as well for ty similar to what philly got for holiday.

        • Cullen

          Yeah, that is what I was thinking too. If we could get Wiggins, Parker, or Embid it might be worth it… but otherwise no. I think incredibly tradable group of Nuggets is: Fournier, Chandler, and Lawson. I would like to trade JJ or McGee, but I doubt those contracts move.

          • LBJ

            I don’t think anyone is going to trade any of those 3 – even if we throw in Lawson. Certainly not Philly, the Bucks, Celtics or Orlando.

  • Cullen

    If the Nuggets do not get into the top 3 (which is incredibly likely) I’m hoping they into the 6-10 range. If this were the case, the Nuggets would be in range to draft Marcus Smart. I really like Smart, I think he is an offensively raw player, but plays aggressive lockdown defense and is an excellent driver that can finish. I am not buying Smart as a point guard, naturally or at the next level, but I think pushing him towards combo guard makes more sense. He is a project, but with a few years I think he could be a high level guard.

    I also like Nik Stauskas quite a bit, but he does not play a lick of defense.

    I like Vonleh and Gordon (Gordon more), but they would just add to the jam in the front court, which seems like a conflict that would be hard to resolve due to the nature and size of the contracts of JJ and McGee, not the mention the contract that is likely down the pipeline for Faried.

    I also like James Young, but I have not seen him in any of the projections for the Nuggets.

    Thoughts?

    • Heisenberg

      If they don’t get a top 3 pick, they will be at 11. Barring a trade up, of course. And I don’t see that as likely (the asking price will probably be too much).

      I’m not really big on Smart. Seems very volatile mentally. He’ll probably be gone by the time Denver picks anyway. 6th or 7th seems likely for him.

      Stauskas reminds me a lot of Klay Thompson. He’s not great defensively but he’s a lights out shooter. Thompson developed defensively so maybe Stauskas can too.

      Honestly, I’d like Faried a lot more if he were a bit bigger. He’s just not big enough to guard guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki. Don’t get me wrong, I like Faried’s hustle and rebounding, but those two and guys like Randolph, Duncan, etc etc abuse Faried. Gordon appears a lot like Faried so I’d prefer Vonleh. Who will also be gone by the time Denver picks.

      NBADraft.net interestingly enough has James Young going to the Nuggets at 11. Anyone who watched the title game probably jumped out of their seat like I did when I saw this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlARGQ1yrW0

      Just wish his 3 ball was better. Could be decent, but definitely needs some work.

      • LBJ

        I suspect we will get Harris, Young or Stauskas. I did see one draft that had Smart falling to the Nuggets – which I would gladly welcome. He reminds me a little of D-Wade. The nuggets could use an upgrade in intensity – at all levels.

      • Richard Pesicka

        Nice Jam. Man the Nuggets need a nice prospect. I’d draft before I’d trade. Traded players seem to take longer to jell. Some are even bitter about trades. Chandler etc. But a drafted player wants to prove they can play..The draft will be interesting. For a lot of teams.

  • Nugman

    Trade first round pick and Shaw to Pacers for Paul George. Indy might need a coach soon and they love Shaw there so it’s the perfect trade. Shaw can then develop the rookie.

  • heykyleinsf

    Ty Lawson… 18th overall
    Kenneth Faried … 22nd overall.

    I’m telling you there’s a chance.

    • Heisenberg

      Neither of them are star players, though. They would be nice supplementary pieces on a contender. Nothing more.

      • heykyleinsf

        whatever dude.
        Good god what ever.
        jeez your attitude.

        Just come out of the closet and say you’re a Clippers fan

        • Heisenberg

          Okay, fine. Lawson is better than Magic Johnson, Gallo is better than LeBron, Faried is better than LaMarcus Aldridge, McGee is better than Wilt Chamberlain. Whoever they draft will be better than Michael Jordan. The Nuggets next year will go 82-0 and sweep their way to the title, being the greatest team ever. They’ll then win the next 8 Championships and Shaw will be the GCOAT.

          Have I met your “you can’t be realistic about the Nuggets ever” standard? Or am I a Clippers fan?

          • heykyleinsf

            being sarcastic and cynical both.
            you must be the life of the party wherever you go.

            the negativity is classless and gutless.
            The Clippers have what you want.
            Go root for them.

            Disparage our two best players..
            I have no clue what your interest is here..
            nor any clue of your ilk existing here outside
            of incessantly whining.

            • Heisenberg

              Negativity? No, it’s realism. Lawson isn’t a top 10 PG. Faried isn’t a top 10 PF. Neither are top 30 players in the league. They’re both solid players, just not stars.

              Your Clippers comment seems a bit much, though. Guess I’m a racist for being rational about the Nuggets. Dang it!

              • heykyleinsf

                It wasn’t a parallel to Donald Sterling..
                I thought it was obvious that it was about
                Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.. two all stars
                at Ty Lawson’s and Kenneth Faried’s positions.

                I don’t know how in the hell you missed that…
                wait..
                ok..
                yeah..
                you’re still consistent even though it’s in a myopic sense

                Realism?
                The Nuggets had the same 57 wins and 3rd seed as the Clippers have this year.

                If you’re going to blame the problems on Lawson and Faried.. it’s either proof that you are just a miserable troll on everything I say.. or a complete moron when it comes to basketball. Or both.

              • Heisenberg

                Then I apologize. I just found it interesting that you picked the Clippers.

                I’m not blaming Faried and Lawson. I mostly blame the front office, with some blame on Shaw. I also can see that Lawson and Faried, while solid players, aren’t superstars, and that you need a star player to be a serious contender. That isn’t blaming them for the Nuggets struggles. That’s just acknowledging where they are as players. Supplementary players are important, but Denver needs that star player.