Prospecting: International players anthem

A few years ago the Nuggets selected an international player in the first round of the NBA Draft, resulting in a firestorm of media criticism, fan outrage and blogger perplexity. At the time virtually nothing was known about Evan Fournier — at least not by your layman NBA Draft fan. Though he was slated to be a late first-round pick all year long, not one blogger or analyst (including yours truly) projected him to land with the Nuggets on draft night. Fastforward two years and Fournier has turned into a solid NBA role player, more than justifying where the Nuggets selected him in 2012.

What Nuggets fans should have collectively gleaned from that tumultuous June night is that it’s always wise to cover all your bases when it comes to the NBA Draft, no matter how unknown a foreign prospect is to our highly concentrated American way of life, or how unlikely he is to land with the Nuggets based on Internet mock draft rankings. Therefore, in RMC’s penultimate installment of this year’s Prospecting series we analyze which international player(s) could have the Nuggets singing “I Chose You” in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

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Link: 1320 KFAN Media Mock Draft interview

Over the last two weeks 1320 AM KFAN in Salt Lake City has held a media mock draft where bloggers and journalists have come together to chat about the NBA Draft, in addition to selecting a player for the specific teams they cover in the lottery. KFAN was kind enough to invite me on for an audio interview this afternoon, which you can find here (scroll to the bottom) along with all the other interviews and picks from respective NBA writers around the country. (Spoiler alert: I did not get a chance to select Andrew Wiggins, unfortunately.)

Prospecting: Point guards with potential

One thing I’ve learned after years of following the NBA Draft is that as selection day approaches it’s always wise to prepare for the unexpected. Though the Nuggets have what appears to be a franchise point guard in Ty Lawson, selecting another point guard in the first round should obviously not be ruled out if the team sticks ardently to the Best Player Available strategy whenever their pick(s) arise. In fact, nabbing a floor general in the first 20 picks might just be the best decision Tim Connelly makes in his first full year as general manager, as there are several highly undervalued point guards — each with one elite skill — slated to be available within that range, which I analyze below in RMC’s latest Prospecting installment.

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Prospecting: In search of a shooting star

As many fans are well aware by now, there are four excellent shooting guard prospects in the upcoming draft slated to be available with the Nuggets’ first overall selection: Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Zach LaVine and James Young. While personal preference dictates where exactly these players will fall on draft night, the virtual consensus amongst the Web’s most revered mock analysts is that all four are likely to fall in the top 20. So while the Nuggets should (and likely will) implement the Best Player Available (BPA) strategy, there stands a legitimate chance that one of the aforementioned names will be called to the stage when Adam Silver announces the 11th pick — not because the Nuggets need a starting-caliber shooting guard, but because these players are all more than deserving of that selection. Naturally, understanding which of these players would make the best pick is of critical importance; which, as you might have guessed, is exactly what I’ll attempt below.

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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.

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Roundball Roundtable: One fan’s offseason wish list

Every now and then Roundball Mining Company receives a fan e-mail worthy of more than just a quick read and response. Last week such a letter was sent our way from avid RMC reader and loyal Nuggets fan, Joe Karlik. In his message (presented below in italics) Joe outlined three main moves he felt the Nuggets needed to make this summer to put themselves in a position of success this upcoming season. Joe kindly asked for our thoughts on these issues, to which we’ve obliged his request in the form of our latest Roundball Roundtable. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the following subjects in the comments section below.

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Link: Mulling Nuggets’ options in June draft

This past week after the Nuggets were granted no mercy by the “Basketball Gods” and failed to move up in the NBA Draft Lottery (as George Karl might deduce), I joined a distinguished panel of Nuggets writers — including fellow Roundball Mining Company contributor, Jordan White — to weigh in on the upcoming draft for The Denver Post. With the 2014 NBA Draft exactly one month from Memorial Day, RMC’s coverage of “All Things Draft Related” will soon kick into high gear. Though more detailed player analysis will follow, this article should serve as a comprehensive beginner’s guide for those wishing to get acclimated with all the Nuggets’ options come June 26. As always, feel free to leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions below.

Grading Tim Connelly’s first year as Denver Nuggets General Manager

On June 17 last year, the Nuggets announced that Tim Connelly had been tapped to take the helm of Denver’s front office. In the month preceding his hiring, owner Josh Kroenke had overseen a turbulent start to Denver’s offseason, and Connelly joined a Nuggets organization reckoning with the startling departure of Masai Ujiri for Toronto and the firing of Coach of the Year George Karl. Exacerbating the chaotic atmosphere, Andre Iguodala – who the Nuggets clearly had expected to return – opted out to become an unrestricted free agent just eleven days after Connelly’s arrival, and it quickly became clear that he did not intend to re-sign with Denver.

From day one, Connelly’s rookie year as general manager has been a trial by fire, albeit a fire he enthusiastically jumped into.

To many, including a fair share of the writers here at Roundball Mining Company, it seemed unrealistic that the Nuggets would be able to replicate (let alone surpass) the previous season’s success (more…)

3-on-3: Early NBA Draft forcast

With the NBA Draft Combine scheduled to kick off this week, the Draft Lottery taking place the following week and individual workouts to commence shortly thereafter, the time to talk 2014 NBA Draft has officially arrived. We’ll get into more detailed player analysis as the draft approaches (after all, we’re still six weeks away from June 26), but to get our draft coverage underway at Roundball Mining Company we offer first an appetizer — a piquant sampler of strategies and potential selections to watch for in the coming draft, all in 3-on-3 form. As always, we invite you to leave your input in the comments section below by posting your answers to the following questions as well.

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Slow Rise to Stardom, featuring DeAndre Jordan (and maybe JaVale McGee)

While watching the playoffs I can’t help but think of the Nuggets. I long for certain players to somehow end up on the Nuggets’ roster in the coming year, even if I know it’s not logistically possible. I try and analyze the way playoff teams are constructed, from different personalities and skill sets, to team identities, strengths and weaknesses. Watching other teams in the playoffs is always enjoyable — especially this year — as I can push aside my myopic fandom and try my best to truly think like an NBA GM. And while there are always different nuances you pick up on from year to year, one common thread I’ve noticed with playoff teams that make the jump from simply appearing in the postseason to actually advancing is inner development from long-term investments. Case in point: DeAndre Jordan and the L.A. Clippers.

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Denver Nuggets offseason to-do list

I’ve been doing the Denver Nuggets offseason to-do list for four years now. It’s become a tradition, and it’s a great way to analyze the roster and cap flexibility heading into summer. Every year presents its own unique set of circumstances surrounding the roster, but I do have to say, I can’t remember an offseason being this difficult to forecast. As Joel recently pointed out in his Dearth of financial flexibility post, the Nuggets desperately need to make moves yet have hardly any room to maneuver – like Austin Powers attempting a three-point turn in Dr. Evil’s underground lair. It’s really anyone’s guess as to how Tim Connelly will go about doing his job this summer, and though it seems likely the Nuggets do less as apposed to more, here are some suggestions regarding how the team can position itself to win more games down the road while decreasing its long-term cap strain.

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5-on-5: Player’s Ball

If there’s one thing the Denver Nuggets could hang their hats on this year, it was the players. Denver has lots of them. Most of them good, some of them marginal, a few not so marginal. Some had career seasons, while others couldn’t quite live up to expectations fans set in the summer months leading up to tip off in October. If there was anything gleaned from this season it came from the players, each and every one, good or bad. In our latest 5-on-5 we attempt to examine which of these players belongs in all the superlative categories associated with postseason analysis. Yes, this is our awards post for the 2013-14 season, if such a thing is possible after such a strenuous year of basketball. As always, we encourage you to pose your answers to the following questions in the comments section below.

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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.

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Dearth of financial flexibility and open roster spots may result in a quiet Nuggets offseason

Although chaos ruled last summer’s Nuggets offseason, this year it may be defined by calm.

Going into the 2014 offseason, the Nuggets have a roster likely to remain loaded up at or near the 15-player maximum. Of their current 15 contracted players, only two are expiring – Jan Vesely and Aaron Brooks. Another two, Darrell Arthur and Nate Robinson, have player options but have both expressed interest in staying with the Nuggets. And Denver will surely hang onto the only remaining player whose 2014-15 salary is not guaranteed. The coaching staff and front office have highly praised Quincy Miller’s progress this season, and will be looking to continue his development.

So if the Nuggets let Vesely and Brooks walk, they will be entering the offseason with only two open roster spots. (more…)

Roundball Roundtable: Predicting the Nuggets’ storybook ending

For the first time in over a decade the Denver Nuggets will not play in the NBA postseason. It’s an odd feeling and many fans are rightfully anxious about the team’s long-term future. For most casual sports followers, peering into the Crystal Ball of Tomorrow is simple. You know — for the most part — the security of your coach and team executives, as well as which players will return and which will hit the open market. But what about two, three, even five years down the road? After a season like the one the Nuggets had, isn’t that where all our heads really are? It was this very question that birthed the concept of our latest Roundball Roundtable where we attempt — although admittedly, somewhat blindly — to project where the Nuggets are heading in the very distant future based on developments from only this past season. As always, we encourage you to play along and submit your answer to the following question in the comments section below.

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