Denver Nuggets draft plan

It’s been a long time since we’ve covered the NBA Draft extensively here at Roundball Mining Company. Two years, in fact. (Last year we published almost nothing but rumors and breaking news regarding the front-office overhaul that took place leading up to the 2013 Draft.) So I have to say, it feels good writing about one of my favorite hobbies again. Really good. And on top of my already sunny disposition due to simply writing about the draft is the ongoing realization that for the first time in over a decade the Nuggets have a pick in the lottery. For draft-obsessed, wannabe GMs like me, life really doesn’t get any better.

Before we dive deeper into individual player analysis, it’s important to understand where the Nuggets stand in this draft. This is without question the most important draft selection the Nuggets have had since 2003 when they took a guy who kinda turned out to be a pretty good ball player. When drafting in the lottery, you’re put in position to nab a young, athletic, innately gifted player on a rookie contract who stands a decent chance of morphing into an All-Star one day. If you’re the Nuggets — a team still loaded with talent, looking to return to the playoffs next year — you simply HAVE to hit on this pick. Selecting this high in such an ostensibly historic draft is an opportunity you absolutely can’t afford to screw up. And though I’m nothing more than a guy behind a computer, I can offer up a detailed blueprint of the strategy Denver must possess to put themselves in position to succeed come June 26.

The Overview

Denver will have three picks in the upcoming draft: 11, 41 and 56. The problem with this scenario (as has been mentioned at RMC lately) is that the Nuggets will likely have only two roster spots available — assuming Tim Connelly and Co. exercise Quincy Miller’s option for next year, and Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur both accept their player options. Additionally, the Nuggets still own Erick Green and Joffrey Lauvergne’s rights from last year’s draft. And this isn’t even taking into account team needs the Nuggets might desire to address in free agency.

So no matter how you slice it the Nuggets must figure out a way to jettison at least one player prior to the start of next season. That alone won’t be difficult. What will be, however, is maneuvering enough of the roster around so that come fall the Nuggets head into training camp with a more compatible team than they did in 2013. That isn’t something Tim Connelly — who recently went on record saying the Nuggets were going to be “aggressive” this summer, thank god — will be able to accomplish in one night. And it’s certainly not something he’ll be able to do by executing a few lateral moves. If the Nuggets really want to steer towards a bright future it must start by either nailing the 11th pick in the draft, moving up into the top 10 or trading for an All-Star-caliber veteran.

The Strategy

If you’ve followed RMC for the last several years you’re likely already aware of my propensity for trading up in the draft. Perhaps I’m a bit naive; I won’t deny that. But before you write me off as a fantastical, overzealous blogger, realize first that I’m only advocating this move because of the Nuggets’ impressive roster depth, middling franchise success over the last decade and current state of today’s NBA. If the Nuggets were a team with a superstar or even a few regular stars, I would not be promoting this position. Conversely, if the Nuggets were in constant contention for a top-three selection in the lottery, I would not be promoting this position (for obvious reasons). But the Nuggets are neither. The Nuggets are a deep team with many fringe All-Star types and a few impressive role players. Between Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and even JaVale McGee, there is enough talent (in combination with the Nuggets’ three draft picks this year) to move up into the top 10. With teams like the Kings, Lakers, Bobcats and Celtics (who possess picks 6-9 this year) all eager to get back to the playoffs, the opportunity to strike gold and move up in the draft could never be more ripe.

Usually there are two main problems with trading up in the draft and they both revolve around misjudgement of talent. On one hand, there’s the consensus that in order to move into the top 10 you must offer up every last asset you’ll ever possess plus your best player. This, of course, is not true. Take last year’s draft for example. Not only did the Sixers land the sixth overall pick (which turned into Nerlens Noel, what will likely end up being the steal of that draft after Michael Carter-Williams… who the Sixers also selected five picks later) in exchange for Jrue Holiday from the Pelicans, they also received a first-round pick in this year’s draft. At the time of the trade Jrue Holiday was having a career year, coming off an All-Star appearance and seemingly well on his way to becoming one of the NBA’s premier point guards. Fastforward one year later and Michael Carter-Williams not only has a Rookie of the Year trophy under his belt, but already looks like a better point guard than Holiday. Now Philadelphia is poised to reign supreme for years all because the Pelicans grew impatient and arbitrarily decided making the playoffs NOW was much more important than making the playoffs in 2015. Moral of the story being: Impatient lottery teams do stupid things. It’s in the Nuggets’ best interest to (A) not be one of those teams, and (B), capitalize on those types of teams’ ineptitude.

The other blockade that often prevents teams from trading up is the overvaluing of their own players. For example, if I were to throw out a slew of trades with Ty Lawson as the centerpiece, most of your responses would likely involve something along the lines of demanding my head on a silver blue and gold platter. I’ll admit, the idea even makes me question my own blogging credentials a bit. But that’s only because Ty Lawson is the best thing Denver Nuggets fans have going for them right now. He’s our greatest hope right this second. Yet that’s only because we’re viewing him through the lens of the present, which displays nothing more than what we already know. If the Pelicans knew Carter-Williams would have turned out to be such a stud, don’t you think they probably would have thought twice before answering the phone to Sam Hinkie on the other line?

If the Nuggets could trade Ty Lawson and the 11th pick to the Kings in exchange for the eighth pick and Isaiah Thomas, that’s a trade you have to consider — because if Marcus Smart is still on the board, you win that trade. Or if the Celtics inquire about Kenneth Faried, the 11th pick and a future-first rounder in exchange for the sixth pick and Jared Sullinger, you better listen long and hard to what Danny Ainge is offering — because if Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh are still on the board, you probably win that trade. Even if Charlotte is open to trading the ninth pick and offers it straight up in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, it would be unwise to hang up — ecause if Aaron Gordon is still on the board, you might very well win that trade a few years down the road.

All I’m saying is that, as crazy as these trade scenarios sound now, they only appear that way because that’s exactly the scope in which we’re analyzing them; we’re not seeing these trades through some magical time-traveling telescope two years down the road. But that alone, that insecurity about the future, can’t be the reason you choose not to gamble, not to take a risk and pull the trigger on a trade that has the potential to pay off heavily a few years down the road. Because no matter how good Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are now, none possesses the type of inherent potential guys like Smart, Gordon, Vonleh or Randle were born with. That fact alone should provide all the assurance you’ll ever need to consider striking a blockbuster deal on draft day.

The Players

Over the years ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford has stated that most NBA teams organize prospects in a tier format. Guys who have the potential to be superstars appear in Tier 1, those who have the potential to be perennial All-Stars fall in Tier 2, while players who have a shot at making an All-Star team at some point in their careers get slotted in Tier 3 and so on down the line. Taking a page from this book, I’ve organized a list of players into two tiers, players I believe are roughly the 20 best in the upcoming draft.

The first (Tier 1) are those whom the Nuggets would likely target if they traded into the top 10. These also happen to be guys I personally believe fall somewhere in the superstar to star tier on most NBA GM’s big boards. The second tier consists of guys I feel stand a good chance of being available at 11. These are not only players I believe will have long, successful careers in the NBA — most as longterm starters — but players I personally like based on everything I’ve learned through live games, scouting reports, rumors and other third-party analysis. Lastly, the “Undecided” group consists of two players whom I’m on the fence about. While I loved watching Doug McDermott in college, I simply do not see how he’s going to translate to the NBA. Meanwhile, Jusuf Nurkic (who DraftExpress has had going to the Nuggets virtually all year) is a guy I’m too unfamiliar with to comfortably comment on. His scouting reports are promising (he reminds me of a young Marc Gasol), but it’s hard to gauge just how good he really is when I’ve never seen him play in a full-length game and he keeps appearing everywhere from the lottery to the early second round in various mock drafts.

Anyway, here are my tiers. Players are not listed in order. They are simply organized as one giant bunch…

Tier 1: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon.

Tier 2: Dario Saric, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Zach LaVine, James Young, Elfrid Payton, Tyler Ennis, Shabazz Napier, K.J. McDaniels.

Undecided: Doug McDermott, Jusuf Nurkic.

As the draft approaches it’s looking more and more like Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and Exum will go 1-4. They’ve held the top four spots on most mocks for the last few months and it doesn’t seem like that will be changing anytime soon, unless Embiid’s back is a total red flag. Therefore, if the Nuggets trade up it likely won’t be for one of those players. Smart, Randle, Vonleh and Gordon would likely be available from 6-9. Of those players, I like Smart the most with Randle a close second. But like going to a Lamborghini dealership and picking between the red one, black one or blue one — going home with any of them is a win-win situation.

In terms of the second-tier players, if you’ve been reading anything I’ve written the last month about the draft then you already know I like Gary Harris. Last year “my guy” was Gorgui Dieng. In 2012 it was Andrew Nicholson. The year before that it was none other than Kenneth Faried. Though there are many more guys I like this year than in previous years (that’s what the lottery will do to ya!), I still think Harris is the sure thing at 11 assuming Dario Saric (who could be in Tier 1 based on talent) is off the board. Harris, to me, is the total package. He’s young for his class, he played on a winning team with a great coach both years in college, he has way more athleticism than people give him credit for, as well as deep range, fantastic basketball IQ, point-guard-like vision and above all else, he plays good defense! Harris is a true two-way player, which you can’t say about too many guys in ANY draft. That, to me, is a dead giveaway that he’s a guaranteed stud at the next level.

As for the rest of the second-tier guys, I’m also a huge fan of James Young. Oddly enough he’s the youngest (or second youngest… not sure exactly) player in the draft, yet he was often times the go-to guy on a Kentucky team that went all the way to the National Championship this past spring. Sure, Julius Randle was Kentucky’s best player, but I can’t tell you how many times I saw Young carry that team through rough patches throughout the season. Stauskas and LaVine are the other two guys I could see the Nuggets drafting if Harris and Saric are off the board. Stauskas is one of the best pure shooters to declare since Klay Thompson — who was picked 11th overall — back in 2011 and has excellent IQ to go with underrated athleticism. Meanwhile LaVine is the high riser (in more ways than one) on this year’s mock drafts. He started off the season as somewhat of an unknown but burst on to the scene with several sweet-shooting performances and has since wowed scouts with his athletic testing. When you study the draft as much as I do you learn a lot, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned most over the last few years it’s that freakishly athletic dudes with range tend to be pretty damn good players in the NBA (see: Westbrook, Russell; Lillard, Damian).

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  • Josh Chin

    Freakishly athletic players who could shoot in college: Marvin Williams, OJ Mayo, Wesley Johnson

  • Josh Chin

    It would be crazy if somehow Denver could land Smart without giving up Lawson

  • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I’m a lot higher on players with good fundamentals than mercurial players with “a high ceiling” or athletic flash (unless that athletic skill is in the Melo/LeBron stratosphere).
    I don’t get the hype for LaVine at all, he played about 24mpg and scored only 9.2ppg in college. He lacks fundamentals and basketball IQ, which is what the Nugs need if they’re going to stick with Shaw and his preferred style of play.

    I like Harris too, but there’s a small asterisk next to his height in my book (well, in my case, it’s a spreadsheet doc, but still). He could well become a star player while still possessing defensive skills and an understanding for the game.

    Others I got high on my shortlist for #11: Doug McDermott (my first choice), Nik Stauskas, Dario Saric (which could open the door for trading Gallinari with an extra asset to get an extra pick higher in the draft), James Young (I would actually take Young ahead of Randle, his college team-mate) and Aaron Gordon, who might just slip out of the top 10.

    • heykyleinsf

      I think it would be insane to take Lavine at 11th..
      And I know I posted a few videos saying I was excited about him
      But he’s too much of a gamble at 11th.
      If we were drafting as a playoff team like last year.. then yes.
      Right now. no.

    • Bryan

      There are plenty of guys who were fundamentally sound, good college players currently playing in Europe or China because they couldn’t cut it in the NBA.

      Probably more than any sport, the NBA is dependent on players with elite athleticism. If a guy is willing to learn you can teach him basketball fundamentals and the game but you can’t teach a 41 inch vertical jump.

      Not saying the Nuggets should necessarily take Lavine (I didn’t watch enough college basketball to form opinions on anyone) but dismissing a 19 year old with elite athleticism because he isn’t polished after one year in college strikes me as being penny wise and pound foolish.

      • heykyleinsf

        He just reminds me of Anthony Randolph..
        with the unlimited ceiling, physical gifts and
        “raw” label. After this past year of AR15…
        I’m inclined to say.. safety first.

        • Bryan

          That comparison doesn’t make any sense to me. Randolph was a tweener SF/PF guy and Lavine is a SG.

          Also, Randolph has an amazing ability to never actually improve at basketball despite what coaches are working with him, I haven’t seen anything that suggests Lavine is uncoachable.

          In fact, he has sought out Jamal Crawford who is mentoring him on the NBA game which I think is probably a good sign.

          • heykyleinsf

            it’s clearly obvious that they are different positions and skill set.. but both were “raw” with “physical gifts” and “poised to be an all star with the right coaching”.
            And also.. they both were probably too thin.

            LaVine may do it.. it’s yet to be seen.
            But it is like AR15.
            The only difference is Randolph had a lot more to show from his college. LaVine.. monster physical gifts but only played like 24 minutes a game? 9ppg? FT average below 70%? Pretty unimpressive honestly. Physically he’s off the charts .. no argument.

            But he’s going to get roughed up to start with.
            Only time will tell.. but I stand by the comparisons.

            • Bryan

              IMO, part of what holds Randolph back is that he doesn’t really fit in as a 3 or a 4, and he’s too skinny to play either position well. Plus, he doesn’t seem to learn from mistakes.

              Lavine isn’t a tweener and is only 19, so might be able to bulk up some if he commits to hitting the gym. Plus, as a SG he shouldn’t need to bang as much, so I don’t think being so thin is as detrimental.

              It’s a gamble but pretty much every pick in the draft and so far with the Draft Express videos I’ve watched he’s the only player that I have thought has flashed any star potential that could potentially be available where the Nuggets are picking.

              • heykyleinsf

                I’m a little nervous that we skip by him and he turns into a freak for someone. I’ll say this.. I’m 50/50.

      • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

        That’s a very fair point, Bryan. In a league such as the NBA, athleticism alone can take you further than good fundamentals alone.

        However, especially this high in a deep draft, I firmly believe that guys whose scouting video’s “pros” section consists only of highlight-reel dunks and no actual basketball (see: Spurs, San Antonio), like LaVine’s does, there are several other options that are much better for the long-term fortune of the franchise. Guys like Stauskas, Harris, Young and others projected to be available at around #9-12 have more than enough athleticism to cut it in the NBA and plenty of other weapons to complement their athletic skill.

        Maybe I’m dead wrong about LaVine. Maybe he’ll be a 2016 All-Star and a key cog of a contending team. I don’t know. And that makes this part of the year so fun. :)

        • Bryan

          I would recommend watching this scouting report videos, on Draft Express, he does more than dunk: http://www.draftexpress.com/video/9290/
          Looks like he has a nice jump shot as well.

          Neither Stauskas, Harris, nor Young have elite athleticism and both have Stauskas and Harris have physical limitations which could lead to problems in the NBA. For example, Harris being a little undersized for a SG and Stauskas having short arms.

          For me, nothing in watching any of those guys says, “Wow, that guy could be a star” and if you’re in the lottery you ought to be looking for guys with star potential, imo.

          • heykyleinsf

            I’ll give you this.
            That guy is electric..
            and if he blossomed.. him and Ty together?
            That would be sweet!
            The video absolutely makes me warm up to the idea..
            but it’s still a gamble.
            I will say.. I’m more open to drafting him now though.
            I like basketball for the entertainment as well as winning.
            Zach LaVine is a show stopper.

  • heykyleinsf

    I don’t like any scenario where we trade Lawson or Faried to move up a few picks. The draft is a gamble.. no matter where you pick. Sure it’s less of a gamble the higher you go.. but still a gamble. Plus in a way it’s blowing up the team.. especially what we have built.. And overall.. the message to the players is that the organization really doesn’t see you as a person.. you’re a part of the machine. To move up a scant few positions.. you risk way too much. 11th overall is fine. Be patient.

    • Heisenberg

      Lawson and Faried bring little to the table defensively. Take a poll of GM’s and Head Coaches and I’d bet they’re a lot lower than where most Nuggets fans have them ranked.

      • heykyleinsf

        I’m not a believer in blowing up the nucleus of a team.
        I’m not one of those people who see greener grass on the other side.. I’m looking at those three and their chemistry.. playing for each other. I also don’t like getting rid of the few things that are consistently helping us. We can do this without sacrificing them.

        • Heisenberg

          Two of the three can’t play defense. Ask Thibs and Pop how much they like guys who can’t play D.

  • steve

    I too, am worried about Harris’s height. Him and lawson would make up the smallest backcourt i feel. I do like what he has to offer, but i dont think he helps THAT much on D as some may think. Faried is also a small PF. I just feel like we’d be tiny out there. I personally would like Young if we stayed at 11. Kalen, with Lakers having so few players on their roster, would they consider something like Chandler, Fournier and 11 pick to move up to 7? Any possibility in something like that or do you think Chandler has limited value outside of Denver? I’d love smart for sure.

    • Josh Chin

      The Lakers probably are expecting a very good starter and wouldn’t trade 7 for another pick.

      • LBJ

        The SI mock draft has the Lakers landing Randle at 7.

        • Heisenberg

          Yep, LA should get either Smart, Randle, or Vonleh.

  • Poz303

    Good write up Kalen. I have been generally against trading up as I felt the cost was too steep as teams appear to covet their pick, but you make some very valid and compleling arguments.
    Gallo is my fav Nugget, so would hate for him to be trade, perhaps I am lucky he is coming off an injury so that his value is low :)
    Trading Lawson would seem like giving away a valued commodity for an unknown commodity. How certain are we that Smart will be a better PG in the NBA than Ty?
    Harris has always seemed to me like the “safest” bet but perhaps I have undervalued his potential simply because he is also one of the more NBA ready players.
    I am also guilty of perhaps valuing LaVine too much because I desparately want a Westbrook-like athlete (with better passing skils), of which the probability LaVine is that player is bery small.

    • Evan Woodruff

      westbrook like athlete … he is one of a kind man. Most athletic player in the league considering his size. (Others being lebron and Howard)

  • Poz303

    Kalen, looking at the Laker’s roster (or lack thereof), could we do a Lawson for the 7th pick straight-up? Not that this is a realistic scenario. I think they have $35 Million committed. Do we have to take salary back?
    Just wondering if they can take Lawson’s salary without having to send anything back.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ JoelRMC

      The Lakers have a $2.8M TPE from the Steve Blake trade. If the Nuggets traded Randolph to L.A. for that TPE in parallel with trading Lawson for the 7th pick and Steve Nash (expiring, good chance of further cap relief in the form of injury insurance), it would trim about $3.7M off Denver’s payroll in 2014-15, or possibly more if Nash gets hurt, and then cuts about $25.6M the following two seasons (Lawson’s remaining contract). Looking over both rosters, that seems like the best possible financial outcome for the Nuggets in a Lawson-for-7th trade scenario, irrespective of whether this trade would be a good move or not.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ Kalen

      I’m no capologist, but I think because both the Lakers and Nuggets are below (or close to below) the cap that they can trade without having to match up 125 percent in salary. Somebody else probably knows a lot more about this than me though, and I’d invite them to enlighten me if they feel inclined…

      • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ JoelRMC

        You’re absolutely right, Kalen. I was overlooking the fact that basically the entire Lakers roster is expiring, and that they therefore could easily absorb Lawson’s contract without having to meet the over-the-cap requirement of salaries being within 25% of each other.

        In my defense, I submit that I was blinded by the tantalizing prospect of Denver trading Randolph for a TPE.

  • Richard Pesicka

    Before you make up a bunch of scenarios, let’s not forget the Nuggets are broke. They said it at the beginning of the season and it hasn’t changed. It was also noted that more than likely the Nuggets would draft a few good picks and sell them off. Look for that scenario. If your looking for a Mary Poppins ending to the now Nuggets, keep looking. I don’t see it. I’m a realist. They just are not deep enough to get the job done with the lineup they have. Do a comparison with the Spurs, Thunder and the Heat. They just are not defensive minded enough. You can throw up 110 points every night, but If you give up 111 it’s all for nothing.

    • Evan Woodruff

      Laker lover ^^

  • Furious_Stylez

    If Connolly really wants to improve this team, he should buyout Randolph and use the part of the trade exception we got for Iggy to trade for Jordan Crawford. Rumors say Golden State wants to move him. He’d upgrade the depth at SG and give this team another slasher in the backcourt. Let QMIller go and resign Brooks, as long as he’s not asking for too much money or too many years.

    If that move was made, the FO could focus on an athletic 3, a stretch 4, or possibly a backup PG. Drafting a SF would allow this team to possibly trade the oft-injured Gallo or Chandler. I’d be open for either one leaving if the Nuggets drafted the right guy. For this scenario, it would be McDermott.

    • mike gomez

      that would be two guys that don’t play defends, ill rather stay as is and draft long body at the two, or my dream scenario find way to get ariza or lance Stephen if things don’t work out with the pacers

    • etlord1

      I agree. A stretch 4 would be someone like Saric. He plays the 3 too, and would be very valuable at #11.

    • LBJ

      While I wouldn’t mind getting Crawford, GSW is going to want a decent player for him with a salary that reasonable.

      • mike gomez

        what happen to not wanting any journeymen?? i just dont understand your judgement.

        • LBJ

          Crawford is 25 and not on the downside of his career. He is 6′ 4″ and can play both SG and PG. This would provide some flexibility – something the nuggets roster is severely lacking.

          Don’t worry, I’m confident we won’t land him. Timmy and Joshy will be focused on overpaying a 30 something year old guy looking for his last contact (perhaps Mike Miller?)

          • mike gomez

            he could only play one position because once he gets the ball aint moving. so you could forget putting him in the point. well its good that you know they wont go after him

  • Cullen

    I think a lot of people have a jaded perception of what the Nuggets roster is. The Nuggets roster is not just a heap of toxic waste with no talent or ability at all. We just lack a top level NBA superstar and even a few players with defensive ability/drive. For example, let’s say the starting 5 next season is Ty Lawson, Foye, Gallanari, Faried, and Mosgov. Not a superb starting five, but I like it to a lot of teams. Coming off the bench we have Chandler, Hickson, McGee, Fournier, Robinson (I’d prefer Brooks, but that seems less likely), Quincy Miller (if he comes back), etc. I would take that bench of the OKC bench or even the Indiana bench, to be honest. The difference in those teams is superstars and/or defensive scheme.

    I think if we were to attempt to shake up the roster, we would have to be willing to pull the trigger on some of the talent we currently have, but I would do it beacause chances are we would still have a good enough bench to go with a newly acquired player.

    I obviously have no idea what a trade would look like (with who, for who, etc.), but still.

    I would rather trade the draft pick and a few assets to a team for a more proven player or younger developing player than for a draft pick. I think this draft is deep and pretty good, but after the top 3 I don’t think you get a superstar and some of the trades listened offer talent that we know is good for players who might never develop.

    I also think a trade makes a lot of sense in terms of cap problems, as well. Because we do have some players that are overpaid, so if we could move some of those players (obviously difficult if not impossible for a few of them) we could make that work easier than we could through free agency (which has its own bucket of worms) or through the draft.

    The one player that I think could be acquired and we would have the players for is a trade for Dion Waiters from the Cavs. There have been tons of rumors about his status with Kyrie, with the team in general. Although he has seemed to be a pain in the ass, I think he could be a great NBA talent with a change of scenario and an expanded role. He would be a massive upgrade at the 2, he’s still young, and seemingly a player the team would deal. This trade is obviously not something I have thought too much about in terms of what we would have to give up beyond the 11th pick, Fournier, etc. but merely an example of a potential trade that would be an upgrade.

    All things considered, I hope they just draft Gary Harris if they don’t trade for a player already in the NBA. Plays defense and can score a little, too.

  • Heisenberg

    That’s a very interesting opinion on Nerlens Noel. Not only did he not play a single game, but The Greek Freak seems much more promising. I’m sure if a redraft were done Giannis would go top 3.

    Was New Orleans dumb for making that trade? I wouldn’t say so. I don’t think Noel will turn into much, if anything. Jrue wasn’t healthy this year. The 2014 pick will likely max out as a solid starter. Pretty close to even if you ask me. I will say this, Noel and Davis would’ve made an intense defensive combo.

    Sadly, I just don’t see teams trading a high pick for guys like Lawson and Faried. They can’t play defense, and due to being undersized there isn’t much that can be done about it. Sure, they bring some nice things to the table on offense, but it isn’t enough to overcome their defensive pitfalls. With a guy like James Harden, while he can’t play defense well, he’s a top 8 (if not higher) offensive player to counter bad defense.

    As I’ve said earlier, this team is headed for a full rebuild. The talent just isn’t there. History shows that unless you’re a top 5 team, you basically have no chance of winning a title. This isn’t the NFL or the NHL. It’s better to be the worst team in the league (or bottom 3) and acquiring future all star talent than sitting in that 6-8 seed range and getting bounced out in the first round (which is what the 2014-15 Nuggets, at best, are headed for).

    • mike gomez

      so 17& 8 without a leigit scoring optitoin next to him is enough to overcome his defensive pitfall but you praise a guy like harden who doesn’t even tried on the defensive end and fail to show in the playoffs.

      • Heisenberg

        Lawson isn’t anywhere near Harden offensively. Not even in the same zip code. Also PG is probably the deepest position in the league.

        Lawson’s stats barely increased from 2012-13, and that team had Gallo and Iggy.

        • Aaron Durkin

          lawson is a better player then james harden

          • sharkbait

            There’s no GM in the world who would trade Harden for Ty Lawson. Harden’s a better shooter, finisher, driver and passer and they both are completely lame on defense.

            • mike gomez

              harden way beyond lame and a playoff choker, if he cant get to the line he is useless.

              • sharkbait

                But he does get to the line, that’s part of his game so you can’t just ignore that. He gets to the line and puts the other team in foul trouble where Lawson does not. Again, no GM would make that trade straight up.

          • Heisenberg

            No, he’s not. Harden’s a much better scorer. And they both suck on D.

    • Aaron Durkin

      James Harden is not even a top 3 player on his own team. Did you see him dissapear again in the playoffs. He is by far the most over rated player in this league. Next year when the refs catch hell for bailing him out all of last season with bad foul calls I bet he avrages around 10pts a game. I compare his game to Kevin Martin with the same career trajectory.

      • gimpcom187

        Wow. You need to go back and look at the roster the rockets had last season. Hes not a top 10 guy but hes definitely an all star. Kevin martin isnt really an appropriate comparison despite the surface statistical similarities because: harden is a primary scorer and very good passer while martin is a great secondsary scorer and mediocre passer. Harden is more efficient across the board. Harden is ginobili without the defense and with more durability.

        Ty is 8-12th best pg in the league.

        • Aaron Durkin

          Like most fans of the NBA We watched the rockets plenty this season becouse they where on TNT and ESPN a number of times. I cant think of one game that I watched a rockets game that I thought he was the best player on the court. on top of that in the playoffs chandler parsons was a much better player on both sides of the court. I am not the only one that thinks that. I know SVP and Russilo on espn think he is extremly overrated and have gone as far as to say just not a good player.. I have heard NBA execs and scouts say that his game has regressed over the past 3 years. lets be honest he might be the worst deffinsive SG All star of the last 10 years. His O game is bult around getting to the free throw line via flopping all over the court which does not translate in the playoffs. Hints his epic falures in the playoffs and the reason the rockets where a dissapointment this year. The only way he is good is if he is the 3rd or 4th option on a good team.

          • Aaron Durkin

            name 8pg better then Ty this year. IF one is Kyre Irving then you are lying to your self

            • sharkbait

              Chris Paul, R. Westbrooke, Tony Parker, Damien Lillard, K. Irving, Mike Conley, Steph Curry, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, John Wall……K. Lowry and Gorgan Dragic are at about the same level.

              • Guest

                paul, lillard,currry, and dragic are i only one i could had better season. Westbrook and rondo didn’t play much. Williams and Irving that’s a joke. stat wisely ty is above with the best

              • sharkbait

                My bad, I didn’t catch “this year”. Westbrooke was better when he played and certainly OKC wouldn’t have made it to the WCF without him. I’m not a big fan of D, Williams so that’s debatable but I would have rather had Parker, Conley, Wall and Dragic (at least for this year). Conley and Wall for defense alone.

              • Aaron Durkin

                I think Wall this year played at Lawsons level befor that he was way over valued.

              • sharkbait

                I think we’re splitting hairs here on some of these PGs. I think Lawson’s a good PG just not an all-star, nor will he ever be. I just think the Nuggets are in a bad spot where they aren’t a contender and they can’t get much better and would be better off sacrificing a couple of years to try and find a couple of stars that can actually take them somewhere. There is no guarantee with the draft but there is one in that we won’t contend with this roster. There’s also a guarantee that Gallo will get hurt again just like he has every other year with the Nuggets. To count on him and someone like McGee is foolish.

              • Heisenberg

                Statistics and the “eye test” would say otherwise.

              • Aaron Durkin

                Kyre Irving is the same player tryrek Evans and Branden Jennings are. Good offensive players horrible team/ NBA players. Mike Conley is a better def player but is not as skilled offensive as Ty. He is great in that system with the big guys in the middle but if you took him off that team he would not be half the player he is now. I went a nets game this year and nets fans booed deron Williams every time he touched the ball. HIS OWN FANS. The way he played this year he is more likely to be in a Russian prison then a all star next year. I live in Boston and watch rondo on a lot and he is not the same player pre surgery. I get it this year was a rehab year for him but as of now he is not better the. Ty. Curry and lilliard are great players but I just can’t say they are PG. I know that is what the teams call them but the spurs also call Duncan a PF so you can’t always believe that. It is so crazy that every one on this blog complains about the talent on this team and how we have none then in the same breath bash a player that when healthy kept this team afloat in the big bad west. When Ty went out this team crumbled. You vastly underrate his skill set and if he played on OKC or the clippers he would be a all star level player as well

              • Heisenberg

                Does the word defense mean anything to you? At all? Because Ty can’t play it. Most successful GM’s and HC’s agree that defense is very important. The fact that Lawson isn’t good at it significantly takes away from his value.

              • mike gomez

                but it doesnt take value from no defense, inefficient harden huh.

              • Heisenberg

                Not really, as Harden is a top 8 offensive player. Melo and Kobe aren’t great defenders either.

              • mike gomez

                well Lawson is becoming one of the top 5 play-makers in his position so that should balance out. plus he gives you 18 pint any given night.

              • Heisenberg

                Disagree. Westbrook, Curry, Kyrie, CP3, Parker, Isiah Thomas, Lillard, and Wall are all better offensively.

              • mike gomez

                i said play-maker, not offensively and would disagree about wall being better than Lawson offensively

              • Heisenberg

                Seems like a rather convenient definition. Either way Lawson’s offense does not balance out his defense (or lack thereof) as he is not even a top 30 offensive player overall.

              • mike gomez

                so ability give you 18 point a game every night and ability to get others going and average 8.8. assist without great scorer next to him like the other point guards have doesn’t balance out his defense??

              • Heisenberg

                Except he’s had other scorers around him and his numbers aren’t much better.

                Not to mention the Nuggets play at a faster pace than most teams.

              • mike gomez

                like who did have that were scorer this season?/ wesbrook has durant and ibaka / curry has klay,and lee / parker has timmy,leonard,manu. / wall has beal,ariza,nene. / irving has waiters,and deng. cp3 had blake,crawford,reddick. and lillard has lamarcus,Mathews,batum

              • Heisenberg

                Not talking about this year. He had Gallo and Afflalo, and Iggy was a decent scorer as well (particularly in the playoffs).

                And again, ignoring pace. BTW Lawson SHOULD have more points without a scoring threat so that isn’t much of a surprise.

              • mike gomez

                well im talking about this year not years past. plus iggy not scorer idk why you would include him. he is players that does little of everything and plays great defends but aint no scorer. well its not like they are the olny team that plays fast and they weren’t playing the high tempo they played with karl. he does was best for team he don’t need to jack up bunch of shots like Irving.

              • Heisenberg

                You listed Manu (and Leonard, who I wouldn’t call a scorer either)….Who can do a bit of everything as well (defense isn’t quite there with Iggy). Manu’s a phenomenal passer, solid defender and rebounder. If Manu’s a scorer, so is Iggy.

                Lawson is a decent starting PG, and nothing more. If he could play defense he’d be a top eight PG but he can’t. To me, guys like Kobe, Harden, and Melo get a bit of a pass for bad defense because they are so good offensively that it outweighs what they give up on the defensive end. The viral “James Harden Defensive Juggernaut” tape could have just as easily been made with Kobe or Melo. I will say that Harden has more hope of becoming a better defender than Ty since he isn’t undersized and defense is (in my opinion) 70-75% effort.

              • Aaron Durkin

                well the fact melo could not lead a Knicks team to the playoffs in the east should take him out of any conversation. Kobe is a good def player when he wants to and as stated before Harden is so bad that he has his own utube channel dedicated to him letting people score with out noticing. you really undervalue the fact that ty had no help def on his team. the nuggets where pick and poped to death due to poor coaching and bad judgment from every player. If ty had players around him like a gasol, randolgh and tony allen I am sure he would be seen as a much better deffencive player.

              • Heisenberg

                I doubt it. Ty is undersized and actually had defensive help last year with Iggy and Gallo playing alongside him on the wing. Conley came into the NBA as an above average defender so I’m not sure why you think it’s all due to Gasol, Z-Bo and Tony Allen (who doesn’t even start).

                Melo can also play good D when he wants. Mike Woodson is a terrible coach and the entire roster outside of Melo regressed. This is the first time Melo has ever missed the playoffs. Hell, the guy made it in his rookie season with the other starters being Andre Miller, Voshon Leonard, Nene, and Camby. Take away Melo (and replace him with an average SF) and they probably don’t even win 30.

                If Houston gets a good defensive coach I think it could really help Harden. At the very least, he can become an average defender.

              • Aaron Durkin

                Harden is not a top 8 player. he might not be a top 8 SG

              • Heisenberg

                He’s absolutely a top 8 SG. Hell, he’s top 5. Keep making excuses for Ty’s bad defense though. And Faried’s.

              • ThatBoy_Nolo

                u crazy if your saying Kobe isnt a elite defender. idk if your saying that because of age and injuries. but thru-out his amazingly long career he has been elite at defense. Melo on the other hand can play elite defense too i notice it in the USA games when hes not the most talented person on the team he takes more pride in his defense. thats kinda y i wanna see him go to chicago i kno Tibbs can make him play both ways

              • Heisenberg

                Kobe’s defense has been highly overrated. He’s an average defender overall. He can be decent when he actually wants to play defense, but he’ll take plays off.

              • sharkbait

                I think Conley is very underrated and the more I see him the more I appreciate him at both ends. I already said I’m not a big fan of D. Will. in a previous post, so I’ll concede that point but you can’t just decided a player isn’t a PG just because. Lilliard and Curry are their teams primary ballhandlers and they guard PG’s so that makes them PGs. As far as Irving goes, I doubt that any GM would trade Irving straight up for Lawson and Irving has had a lot less to work with in Cleveland. Lawson has limitations defensively, with lateral quickness, shooting off the dribble and finishing at the rim so as good as he is I think the Nuggets should entertain trading him to try and get a star because until they get one they will languish in mediocrity.

              • gimpcom187

                Irving is an amazingly efficient scorer and shooter. Comparing him to tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings is preposterous. He is poor on defense but no worse than Ty. You can’t just decide Lillard and curry aren’t pg arbitrarily because they are clearly better. Curry avg .3 less assists per 36 minutes for career. He is teams primary ball handler and assist man. Lillard is still young but he has most assists on team. They are both pg in every sense you can consider. They happen to be premier shooters. So you punish them for shooting at elite levels?

              • Aaron Durkin

                Kyre was a cancer on his team and led a team that TRIED to make the playoffs in the east and could not. do you know how hard it is to not make the playoffs in the east! He is a all star game player. Puts up huge numbers but does not dictate the game. when he was hurt last year you could not tell the diffrence when ty was out the nuggets where inept.

              • gimpcom187

                Sure. Find me a non nuggets fan employee that would even contemplate trading Irving for Lawson. Even if one believed the things you were saying he is already better than Ty. Even though next season he will be the same age as Ty was in his rookie year.

              • LBJ

                Even our FO knuckleheads would deal Ty for Kyrie in a heartbeat.

            • Heisenberg

              A couple of PG’s were out. Healthy Rose (if he ever returns to that level), Rondo, and Westbrook are all miles above Ty. Not to mention CP3, Parker, Curry, Wall, Lillard, Kyrie (offensively he’s better while they both aren’t good defenders), Isiah Thomas…Ty is outside the top 10. In that 12-15 range.

          • gimpcom187

            Ok. You are the one with the 5% opinion as the all nba votes imply. I said last year as in 2013. And don’t start this trash who would you have rather bad this year. How about I say who would you rather have on February 14th. Guys having injuries they have shown to be back from or close you look at last 2-3 years. Harden averaged 1.6 less FT in playoffs. He still gets to the line like crazy. He shot poorly this year ok last year. Great the year before. Ginobili shot horribly against Portland too. It happens. Ty shot 20% vs gsw last year (that means 2013).

      • sharkbait

        Did you even watch that series? Harden had a couple of sub-par games in the first 2 but in the games in Portland he was unstoppable. Portland had no answer for him and he could have run that pick and roll with Howard all night. Frankly I don’t know why they didn’t and good thing for I was rooting for the Blazers.

        • mike gomez

          if shooting 35% from the field and 29 % from is 3in that series is unstoppable then yes he was a beast

  • etlord1

    I don’t see why reaching for a SG with the 11th pick just for the sake of filling a need is a good strategy. I think Dinwiddie when he gets healthy is just as good as Harris, Young or Stauskas; maybe even better. He can be snatched late first or early second. I know he is more of a PG (which we need more depth at), but he can play the two as well. I would really look at Saric with our first pick. He can play both the 3 and the 4. He will also probably be in Europe for a year or two, which can provide cap flexibility for a Faried extension in October.

    • Heisenberg

      Nothing really stands out about Dinwiddie for me. At least with guys like Harris, Young, and Stauskas they have a skill that really stands out. It’s also concerning that Dinwiddie hasn’t shown much improvement since his freshman year (if anything, he got worse). I get that he’s a CU guy and all, but I don’t see him transitioning well to the next level.

      • Colin

        I’m sorry but you have no idea what you are talking about. Got worse? Gtfo

        • Heisenberg

          I accidentally read his stats in reverse. His 3 point shooting got worse though.

  • Aaron Durkin

    we should trade every thing we have to get Danny Ainge. The way he is manipulating the Kevin Love sweepstakes is magical. Mark my words the celtices will be a power house next year and will not draft one player. doing all this in a city and market that no “star ” player wants to play in. Magic!!!!!

  • Poz303

    “Zach LaVine had the stat of the day at the Lakers’ draft workouts. He nailed a 46-inch vertical leap Wednesday morning. It wasn’t quite a traditional vertical (he was tested for that as well) but on the record-setter for a Lakers draft workout, he was allowed to take a few steps before jumping. He broke the 44-inch mark in the moving vertical set last year by former Louisville guard Peyton Siva. “I’ve gone higher than that before, but, yeah,” LaVine said. “I think I was pumped a little bit. You know, the Lakers.” Los Angeles Times”
    46″ vertical, his head is literally above the rim (he is 6’5″ tall)

    • Heisenberg

      That’s more than Rose…..

    • Colin

      If we graded players based on their vertical Peyton Siva would’ve been a first round pick…just saying. I have watched Zach Lavine several times and he did not impress me at all. He came off the BENCH all year and averaged less than 10 points a game. When he was actually in he looked like a freshman and did not play under control. I think he made a big mistake coming out early and there is just too much uncertainty to take him at 11 especially with this being such a crucial draft. STAY FAR AWAY – I would rather have Dinwiddie than him

      • Poz303

        If he works out for the Nuggets and shows he has some basketball skills and IQ to go along with the athleticism, then I would be all for the Nuggets drafting him at #11. One thing is for certain, you can NOT teach that kind of athleticism.

      • Heisenberg

        LaVine’s ceiling is way higher than Dinwiddie. Out of curiosity, are you a CU fan? If so then your opinion is obviously susceptible to bias and thus should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

        • Colin

          Actually go to CU so yes.. I may be a bit biased :) but hear me out when I say that I truly believe that Dinwiddie will be a solid player at the next level. I was very weary on Roberson and could have told you he would struggle to make the transition to the pros and also on Burks (terrible jump shot) but I have watched just about every game since Dinwiddie joined the program and he just looks the part (reminds me of Jimmy Butler at Marquette actually – a 3 year starter that didn’t put up flashy numbers or draw a ton of attention but was the most important player on the team. Dinwiddie is 6’6″, great defender, high basketball IQ, good jump shot, good in transition, and has all the intangibles you look for with a chip on his shoulder (wasn’t highly recruited out of high school and feels like he was overlooked while at CU). Only weaknesses are he could put on more weight, can be too passive sometimes, and doesn’t have great athleticism (I think athleticism is overrated anyway). He played for team USA last summer with coach K and started every game and averaged the most MPG without putting up flashy numbers…I think that speaks to the type of player he is. I’m not saying we should take him at 11 (not at all) but if we could grab him later in the first round I think he would be a steal. He was projected to be lottery pick before he got hurt…

          • Heisenberg

            Well, Roberson was a great rebounder in college (a skill that typically translates well to the NBA) so I can see why he went late first round. And Dinwiddie probably wasn’t going lottery in this draft, injury or not. They were talking mid to late first round. I think he really made a big mistake and would have been better off coming back for another season to prove himself. Now he’ll be lucky to go in the first round and should go in the middle of the second.

            The issue I have is that Spencer doesn’t have one skill that particularly stands out. With LaVine, the athleticism is off the charts and the ceiling is for him to be similar to Westbrook. The ceiling for Dinwiddie is probably a poor man’s MCW (and that’s the absolute best case scenario). This team needs a star so I’d like to see them take a gamble. While I’m not the biggest LaVine guy either (Westbrook was more polished coming out of college), I can’t deny his ceiling. I wouldn’t mind seeing Elfrid Payton either, he looks quite a bit like Rondo. I would be okay with taking Dinwiddie if he was still on the board at 41 but I don’t want them to trade down from the 11th spot to get him.

  • tsraider08

    Gordon is going to be the bust of the draft. The fact that you have him as tier 1 is crazy. We’ve seen tons of freak athletic, small 4’s bust in the NBA (Tyrus Thomas for example). He can’t shoot, is too small to play the 4/ post up, and his ceiling is that of Kenneth Faried’s. Vonleh or Stauskas will be sure bets at the next level.

    • gimpcom187

      He may have a profile similar to kenyon martin. Hes a lot younger than kenyon was in his first year so it may take 4 years to develop into a very good defender but kenyon was a very good (though overpaid and slightly headcase) big. He at least has a shot at becoming similar to faried. He cant shoot but thats why they have shooting coaches. Also he may develop enough to become a small ball 4 stopper who can play guys like lebron and durant well. Youll need an elite paint and decent shooting center to pair with him (think gortat as the minimum level partner) but gordon will likely work into a solid starting pf with limited shooting.

      • Heisenberg

        Interesting comparison. His game doesn’t really remind me of K-Mart. Most comparisons have a best case scenario of Marion or Blake Griffin. I do think Faried is his floor though.

        • gimpcom187

          I dont know that its a perfect comparison but I think he is capable of being a dynamic defender. Martin was a really good defender generally and even better prior to his microfracture. Gordon will have to develop really good hands for that swipe down in the post martin and karl malone were great at. Hes a bit of an enigma as a shooter. Ft shooting at 44% is borderline not playable (same as martinin his freshman year). Gordon did hit 35% from 3 though on 1 shot per game. I cant imagine deandre jordan hits 35% from 3 when he is by himself in a gym. Bradley beal hit 34% from 3 at florida. So who knows what gordon will become as a shooter. Either way hes the type of guy you have to wait 3 years before you even start to judge him because defense takes 2-3 years to develop those skills and instincts. I agree marion is probably the better comp too but if hes as intense as some suggest he maybe a combo of the two.

    • Colin

      I tend to agree on Aaron Gordon and would be happy with Vonleh or Stauskas

      • sharkbait

        I would be happy with either of those guys also. Or maybe even both.

    • Heisenberg

      Vonleh appears to be a lock for the top 8.

    • sharkbait

      While he’s not a good shooter at the moment he is a freak athlete and already is a good rebounder and defender. The one thing you’re leaving out is that at his young age he already knows how to play basketball better than Faried and certainly Tyrus Thomas. Look at his passing and ball handling skills for a player his size. At worst he’ll be Kenyon Martin, hopefully without the injuries. I would definitely go after him.

  • Evan Woodruff

    Yall forget we won 57 games last year with our team, and only lost to golden state because of gallo’s injury and really bad match up. This year doesnt count, because of the injuries and new coach.

    I say, keep our core, pick whoever is the best fit at 11th and go for a playoff run as a top 3 seed again.

    • Evan Woodruff

      spurs will fall off this year after then win the championship and dunkin and pop leave. that leaves clippers, okc, huston and portland as the top 4 seeds. The nuggets can beat out at least one, if not two of them, and can win a series in the 2nd round against either. Lets see the potential of our 57 win season before we make any rash decisions.

      Nuggets are in the western conference finals next year if they keep their core and get a lucky draft pick at number 11

      • Heisenberg

        Even if the Spurs win, I think Duncan and Ginobili come back for one more. The Big 3’s contracts all expire after next season and it seems fitting for them to go out together (Parker obviously won’t retire). There’s nothing to suggest Pop is leaving either. And honestly Denver couldn’t beat any of those teams in a 7 game series. Aldridge would massacre Faried. OKC and Clips would beat Denver in 4 or 5. They have nobody to guard Harden.

        Your expectations, to put it kindly, are way, way too high. This team has no star player, no defense, and (after one season anyway) a below average coach. Honestly Denver will be lucky to even make the playoffs next year.

    • Heisenberg

      lol, Nuggets also had Iggy. People write off his contributions but he was arguably Denver’s most valuable player for that season. Honestly that team overachieved and was probably closer to a 50 win team in terms of talent. There’s a zero percent chance the current roster can go 38-3 at home. Currently assembled the Nuggets are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. They are, at best a 7 or 8 seed and out in the first round.