Obviously we cannot put any stock in something like this, but over at HoopsAnalyst Ed Weiland saw an interesting link between the 2009 NBA Draft point guard class and the 1983 NFL Draft quarterback class. That group of quarterbacks included some well known names such as Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and one John Elway.
The potential parallel between Elway forcing his way out of Baltimore and Rubio possibly forcing his way out of Minnesota is intriguing and even though I imagine most readers of this blog double as Elway fans I think you have to be encouraged with which NFL prospect from the 1983 draft Ty Lawson lines up with.
He may have never won a title in the NFL, but I think it would be pretty cool to have the Dan Marino of point guards in Denver for the next ten to 12 seasons. Like I said, draw your conclusions from Weiland’s post at your own risk, but at the very least it is an interesting read.
Hat tip to Steve Aschburner at SI.com for the link.
For the first time in years there is a reason to watch the Denver Nuggets’ summer league team. I cannot wait to see Ty Lawson in a Nuggets uniform, even if it is two sided and made of mesh.
The Nuggets have been interested in Lawson since last year’s draft, but he withdrew his name from consideration after he was pulled over for playing his music too loud. That may not have been a very big deal, but the traffic stop resulted in charges of driving after consuming alcohol and driving with a suspended license. Plus he was only 20 at the time.
That traffic stop may turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to Lawson.
He returned to North Carolina, won a national championship and patched the one massive hole in his game. Lawson possessed the quickness, vision and demeanor to be an NBA point guard, but his poor jumper was a major issue as he converted only 36.1% of his three point attempts in 2007-08.
To start the 2008-09 campaign Lawson only made two of his seven three point shots and it appeared that he was going to continue to struggle from behind the arc. However, Lawson would go on to convert 51 of his 108 three point shots and finished the season shooting a stellar 47.2%. Those 108 three point attempts convert to over three threes a game so it was not a fluke or statistical anomaly.
Now that Lawson has addressed his outside shot, he is arguably one of the most efficient players I have ever seen. Just look at this report from Draft Express:
“As we put this data together, we weren’t surprised that Ty Lawson excelled from a situational perspective, as he did play for the most potent offense in all of college basketball, but we didn’t expect him to look this good. He ranks first in a number of key categories, including overall FG% (52%), Points Per Possession [PPP](1.13), pull up jump shot FG% (47%), and %shots he was fouled on (16.1%). Though his teammates did a lot of scoring as well, Lawson functioned seamlessly as a complementary scorer. Looking past his efficiency as a shooter off the dribble, he was second in catch and shoot field goal percentage at 48%. From a purely statistical sense, no player on this list scored more efficiently than Lawson.
“We thought that UNC’s transition offense might have given Lawson a decided advantage over some of his counterparts in terms of efficiency, but that wasn’t entirely true. He did get 10% more offense in transition than any of the other players we looked at (an outrageous 38.6%), but his transition PPP of 1.2 is the same as his PPP in spot up situations and not as far above the average as his PPP in pick and roll situations (1.19 PPP, +.29) or on isolations (1 PPP, +.16). Lawson was an incredibly prolific transition player (which is quite an advantage in itself today’s NBA), but he was comparatively better in other areas as well. When you consider that he only turned the ball over on 13.8% of his half court possessions (5th best) and can drive left and right equally well, it seems like Lawson could be an excellent offensive fit on virtually any team, regardless of tempo.”
It does not stop there. I read somewhere that Lawson has the second best assist to turnover ratio in the history of the ACC. Lawson shot over 50% from the field in each of his three seasons at North Carolina and he averaged 1.7 points per shot last season. Typically only big men produce points at that level of efficiency. For example Blake Griffin averaged 1.73 points per shot.
Lawson even reclaims the ball more frequently than he coughs it up averaging 2.1 steals a game compared to only 1.9 turnovers. He is not a long defender who parlays his great reach into deflected passes, he actually had the shortest standing reach out of everyone at the combine, he simply has great instincts.
Lawson seems to be a perfect fit for what the Nuggets are trying to do on offense. He can run when the situation present itself, but when games slow down, he can earn you easy points in the half court offense as well either off the pick and roll, penetration or as a shooter.
Draft Express was not the only analysts to find Lawson to be more impressive than his counterparts. ESPN’s John Hollinger found that statistically Lawson was the top prospect in the entire draft (subscription required), even ahead of Blake Griffin. He explains that point guard is the position that is the most difficult to project statistically, but when coupled with everything else we know about Lawson it is clear he is a great prospect.
If you are a Nuggets fan, and you are not thrilled about Lawson coming to Denver, I do not know what to tell you.
The only possible objection I can think of to the trade is that we should not have given up the Charlotte Bobcat’s pick, and I was of that opinion 24 hours ago. I did say I could be talked off that stance though and the more I think about it, the less valuable that pick might be.
The first rounder Charlotte owed Denver, and now owes Minnesota, had some pretty strict protections attached to it. Apart from being protected 1-14 this year, it is protected 1-12 in 2010, 1-10 in 2011, 1-8 in 2012 and 1-3 in 2013 before being completely unprotected in 2014. It is true that in a perfect world Denver could have landed the top pick in the 2014 draft, but what kind of value is that for a team built to win now? In all likelihood that pick gets conveyed next year or in 2011 as a late lottery pick. If Charlotte signs Allen Iverson, the only logical location for him that comes to mind, that pick may end up being in the mid teens next year. I will take Lawson over that.
The other issue Denver faces with Lawson is how does he fit in with the Nuggets rotation? For a team that was so close to reaching the NBA Finals, will he be a difference maker?
Those questions are a little more difficult to answer.
For starters there is a quote in the Denver Post from George Karl that gives us some insight into what he is thinking for next season.
“My hope is we can get A.C. back and Chauncey and have Ty as a guy that will work hard and prove that he’s got to play sometime.”
I have no problem with bringing Anthony Carter back next season. He has been on one year minimum salary deals the past two seasons and I doubt he will command anything more than that this summer. On the other hand if Lawson is tied to the bench while Carter plays 22.9 minutes a game again next season, I may have a coronary.
I realize the danger in telling a kid that he will come in and get playing time, and hopefully that is all Karl is doing here, but I believe as a rookie Lawson can be a more effective player off the bench than Carter. Carter has been a good to great defender and can collect assists quickly when Denver is running, but my concern is he is 34 years old. How much longer can he stay in front of opposing point guards? I think we saw some cracks in Carter’s defense last season although he definitely had his moments (hounding Dywane Wade in Miami anyone?).
Even considering the defensive drop off from a 32 or 33 year old Carter to Lawson if Lawson is the third string point guard and Anthony Carter is going to play 20-24 minutes a game next season, then Lawson becomes just another prospect for the future. Any improvement the Nuggets make on their conference finals appearance last season will have to come from an upgrade somewhere else on the roster and there is a possibility they shot their wad on improvements last night. Any additional moves will most likely require delving deep into luxury tax territory and I am not sure Stan Kroenke is willing to do that.
Before you start envisioning Lawson collecting DNP-Coach’s Decision after DNP-Coach’s Decision keep in mind whether or not AC comes back next season is not entirely up to George Karl. Management may choose to let Carter go and force Karl to play Lawson. At this point, who knows what will shake out?
One thing that Lawson has going in his favor if he is in the rotation is Karl’s love of playing two point guards at once. We might see Lawson and Billups on the court together quite a bit and I believe with their ability to create for themselves and others and they way they can both shoot, they will play off of each other very well.
We may not know if Lawson will play 20 minutes per game next season or four. We do know Denver acquired a player who is highly capable who might be running the point in Denver for the next decade. I think Lawson compares favorably to Jameer Nelson right now and has a chance to be even better than that in two or three seasons.
For the 18th player selected in a terrible draft, that is pretty good.
Moving on briefly to the 34th selection, I was beside myself when the Nuggets passed on DeJuan Blair, but I have heard some rumblings about the cash considerations that Denver received from Houston for Sergio Llull that has helped me accept the decision Denver made. All I will say is Denver was very well compensated by Houston for Llull. (Update: It has been announced elsewhere so I will post it too. Denver received $2.25 million, a record payout for a second round pick for Llull.) For a team who is looking to scrape together money here and there to hang onto Chris Andersen and as dissatisfying as it was to hear they sold their pick with a player like Blair on the board I think they made the right move.
Of course, if Blair turns into Charles Oakley with a back to the basket game, I reserve the right to be retroactively furious.
A couple of picks before the Nuggets were up I commented on the draft live blog that I wanted DeJuan Blair so badly that it guaranteed that either someone would pick him right in front of Denver or they would pass on him.
Anyone ever heard of Sergio Llull?
Me neither. If you want to know more about Mr. Llull (seriously, he has that many l’s in his name) here is his Draft Express profile.
As excited as I was about Denver acquiring Ty Lawson, I am that disappointed in their selection of Llull. To make matters worse, Blair ended up going to San Antonio. That was just pouring salt in the wound.
Update: Denver sold the draft rights to Llull to the Houston Rockets. I understand Denver wants to save as much money as possible, but what makes me mad is you can save money by having a player like Blair who has a bottom dollar contract on your team. They will now have to spend much more on a veteran big, whether it be Johan Petro or someone else, to provide that depth.
According to Ric Bucher the Denver Nuggets will send the future first round pick owed to them by Charlotte in exchange for North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson.
As players like Jrue Holiday, Eric Maynor and Lawson kept falling I thought it brought those players into Denver’s wheelhouse.
Before the draft I did not want to give up the Bobcats’ pick, but I knew I could talk myself into it for Lawson or Maynor and I already feel pretty good about it. Lawson should be a very good fit in Denver. He greatly improved his three point shooting last season and can learn the finer points of defense from Chauncey Billups.
The Nuggets can now focus on best player available with pick 34.
Update: The Denver Post confirms the trade.
At this point I would be happy with trading number 34 and next year’s first rounder to move up and draft DeJuan Blair. If they want to, they can get it done.
You are invited to join the live blog featuring many of the fine writers from the ESPN/TrueHoop Network. Leave your comments, ask questions or just read along as you enjoy the draft.
There has been a great deal made about how weak the 2009 draft class is. I actually do not think it is that bad of a group. The real issue is the top of the class is lacking in star power.
There is no top three or four players in this draft. In fact a lot of analysts believe that you can get just as good of a player at 18 or 20 as you can at four or five. That does not reflect well on the top of the class, but I think there is some depth here. Players such as Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger and Nick Calathes are all good prospects. There may not be a superstar in the group, but there are a lot of potential starters out there.
The other observation I will make about this draft is I actually think Blake Griffin is overhyped because he is head and shoulders above the rest of the group. Working off that analogy if the average height of the top players in this class is 6’0″ tall, then Griffin is 6’5″. Griffin looks great righ now, but the typical draft class has an average height of say 6’4″ and when Griffin gets out among those players he may not be such a sure thing after all.
Kind of reminds me of a guy out of Cincinnati named Kenyon Martin.
One thing I think Nuggets fans should be concerned about is despite having to worry about the Jazz and Trail Blazers, the Timberwolves and Thunder are both in a position to really help themselves tonight. The Thunder are drafting third and I expect them to add another nice piece to their collection of young talent. If they land Ricky Rubio, look out. There are reports that Russell Westbrook is telling the team, or at least his agent is, that he does not want to be shifted to shooting guard and not to draft Rubio. General Manager Sam Presti cut his teeth in San Antonio. I do not think he is going to let the desires of a second year player prevent him from doing what he thinks is best for his team. In addition to the third pick they have selection number 25 too. That is right in the range where some undervalued players will be waiting to be snatched up.
Minnesota has four first round picks. I know it is difficult to think of Minnesota drafting well, but if they manage to pull out two starters and two rotation players, that will put them well on their way back to respectability.
I will leave you with three lists.
Players I like: Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger, Nick Calathes and Toney Douglas.
Players I do not like: Hasheem Thabeet, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson (Dahntay Jones part two), Terrence Williams, Austin Daye and Sam Young.
Players I do not know what to think about: Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, James Johnson, B.J. Mullens, Omri Casspi, Taj GIbson and Darren Collison.
Second round value: Patrick Mills, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, A.J. Price, Paul Harris, Lester Hudson and Jon Brockman.
Coming up next, the ESPN/TrueHoop Network draft live blog/chat.
Andy Katz is reporting that the New York Knicks have purchased pick 29 from the Los Angeles Lakers for $3 million and will be selecting a guard, possibly James McClinton from Miami. He also says that the Cleveland Cavaliers at 30 will be hoping one of the top point guards falls to them. Those are two more teams who may snatch up point guards that would be good fits for Denver.
On the other hand Katz claims that Minnesota is hoping a specific player with pick number 18 and the two players he mentions are Earl Clark of Louisville and James Johnson of Wake Forest. If they player they want is gone they will trade the pick. Both Clark and Johnson are expected to be gone before that point in the draft. If Minnesota is looking to move that pick, it could be a possibility for Denver to jump up and nab a point guard or draft DeJuan Blair.
As exciting as it is to have your team in the NBA Draft Lottery with a decent shot at landing the first pick and watching them make a selection in the top five or six picks of the draft, I sure hope to get used to having the Denver Nuggets picking late in the first round.
As I am sure you all know by now Denver does not have a first round pick in the 2009 draft. They dealt what would have been the 26th pick in the draft as part of the Atkins for Petro deal, but they also received the Thunder’s second round pick, number 34, which is where they currently stand.
It is pretty clear that the Nuggets have two areas that are in need of an upgrade. One is finding a backup point guard who can fill in for Chauncey. Most Nugget fans have had a love/hate relationship with Carter, but the truth is he has been one of the more solid back up lead guards in the NBA. When you factor in his minimal salary he quite honestly has been a Godsend. However, Carter just turned 34 and you have to be concerned about him showing up to training camp having lost a step or two.
This draft is full of point guards from top to bottom and there may be a decent point man or two who go undrafted. The two mock drafts I trust the most, Chad Ford’s at ESPN.com (subscription required for picks 6-60) and DraftExpress.com, have all of those players being selected by pick 24. That is not to say someone will not fall, but if Denver wants to get a point with a decent chance of succeeding, they will probably have to move up.
I think if one of the point guards they want drops into the mid to late twenties there is a good chance the Nuggets make a deal to trade up. So the big question is what players are we talking about?
If Denver jumps up a few picks players like Eric Maynor, Jeff Teague or Darren Collison could be the target. Maynor is a senior out of Virginia Commonwealth University who has made a name for himself thanks to a couple of nice moments in March Madness. In 2006-07 Maynor made a name for himself when he picked the George Mason point guard clean on back to back plays scoring five points all by himself in seconds to tie their conference championship game at 57. VCU went on to win the game (I think Maynor had 11 points in the final two minutes) and in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Maynor hit the game winning shot to knock Duke out, which may have been one of the happiest moments of my life. See all three plays starting at 2:17 of this video.
VCU missed the NCAA Tournament the following year, but came back in 2009 and fell one point short of upsetting UCLA. Maynor is a point guard through and through. He has a slight build, but can play defense and he knows how to run a team. He has been tagged to go to Philadelphia for weeks now by both ESPN and DraftExpress, but if Philly does something else or if one of the higher rated point men drops to them Maynor may be available for Denver in a spot where they could possibly trade up.
Jeff Teague a sophomore from Wake Forrest, but he is more of a scoring point guard. He is a very good three point shooter converting 39.5% as a freshman and 44.1% as a sophomore. He has tremendous quickness and Chad Ford compares him to Devin Harris. The bad news is Teague averaged roughly one turnover per assist, which is not what you want out of your point guard. His defense is a big question mark as well.
Collison was a decent college point guard and if Denver is not able to move up to get Maynor, Teague or another top rated point, the Nuggets may have to take him. He has tremendous quickness and Ford has compared him to Aaron Brooks who drove the Lakers crazy in the playoffs. I have seen Collison play on several occasions and have never been blown away by him, but to be fair the past couple of season he has shared the backcourt with a couple of lottery picks in Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holliday so his getting overshadowed is understandable. He is a good defender, but is small even compared to skinny players like Maynor and Teague.
Another name that keeps popping up around the Nuggets’ pick is Patrick Mills. Mills is an Australian who played at Saint Mary’s. He made a name for himself in the Olympics when his quickness was too much for the United States’ guards to handle. He can get in the lane at will, but he is not a very good shooter and he needs to ball in his hands to be effective. He is another player that was helped by Brooks’ performance against the Lakers. However, he is not the shooter that Brooks is and he lacks the finishing prowess of a Tony Parker when he gets in the lane. I would not be upset if the Nuggets plucked him at 34, but I see him as more of a taller Earl Boykins than a Chauncey Billups.
If the Nuggets are really feeling gutsy there is a possibility they trade away the Charlotte Bobcats’ first round pick they own along with pick 34 to jump way up to try and draft Ty Lawson or one of the other highly ranked point men who might be available in the early teens. I think that is a distinct possibility, but that Bobcats pick is a lottery ticket. As with any lottery ticket it may be worthless, but the chances it might pay off big makes it difficult to give up.
The other obvious area of need for Denver is their big man depth. Unlike the point guards that may be available, there are no big men who get me excited. DeMare Carroll of Missouri has been linked to the Nuggets, but with him I see a player who at best is Renaldo Balkman with a better jumper, and it is not just because of the hair. I realize the knock on Balkman is he cannot shoot, but if Denver is going to draft a power forward he needs to be a bigger power forward, not a small quick one in the mold of Carroll and Balkman.
Taj Gibson of USC is another big that is mentioned in the late first and early second round. He is taller and more explosive than Carroll, but he is very lean and I am not sure he will be able to rebound consistently in the NBA. He did pull down 9.0 a game last season at USC and rebounding is a skill that translates very well from college to the pros.
Derrick Brown from Xavier is a very good shooter and is athletic, but is not a real banger and as with Gibson I am worried about his rebounding. He only averaged 6.1 boards a game last season.
Chad Ford actually has the Nuggets drafting Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State. Pendergraph is one of few big men with any beef projected to go in the second round, but he is still listed just an inch taller than Kenyon Martin at 6’10” and he weighs the same as Kenyon at 240. Quite honestly, I may have seen Pendergraph play, but if I did, I sure do not remember it. Based on his profile he would appear to be more of an offensive player than a defensive one. Offense on the block is nice, but not if it is not backed up with good defense and the ability to rebound.
Typically I would never lock in on a single position, but the Nuggets need for a young back up point guard and the plethora of such players available makes it safe to lock in on that position. The only way I would rather see Denver draft a big man instead of a point tonight is if someone like DeJuan Blair falls into the mid twenties and Denver is able to jump up and grab him. Other than that, I have no desire to see Denver draft a big just to add depth. I would much rather see them bring in a guy like James Mays who was in cap last year than take a flier on a someone they hope can play.
Denver is always unpredictable. They have made quite a few moves over the previous few years either leading up to the draft or on draft day itself. We also never know who they like and who they do not. Last year they claimed to have Sonny Weems in the top ten of their draft board so who knows what player they really like who will be sitting there at 34. Of course, if there is no one they like they will probably trade out of the draft and move on.
Quite honestly no one knows what will happen tonight and that is why the draft is so much fun.
I love the NBA Draft and draft day is here. I have not written anything about the draft yet thanks to the Nuggets only having the 34th selection, but look for a post or two tomorrow.
That will not be the end of the draft coverage though. You should plan on taking part in the live draft chat that will be featuring many of the bloggers from the ESPN/TrueHoop Network. I will be taking part to chronicle anything that Denver may or may not do and to help make fun of any GM that deserves to be made fun of.
I received a couple of intriguing emails today to stir me from my inexcusable blogging slumber. I have a list of players that the Nuggets will be working out on Friday and Saturday and there is very disappointing news regarding the D League champion Colorado 14ers.
First of all the three separate workouts have been scheduled over the next two days.
Group one (Friday, 10:00 AM)
Paul Delaney – 6’2” 200 PG UAB, Ranked 94
Daniel Hackett – 6’5” 205 PG USC, Ranked 87
Lester Hudson – 6’2” 190 SG Tennessee Martin, Ranked 88
Curtis Jerrells – 6’1” 208 PG Baylor, Ranked 57
Tyreese Rice – 6’1” 190 PG Boston College, Ranked 77
Robert Varden – 6’5” 205 SG UAB, Ranked 82
There are some interesting players in this group. The most intriguing prospect is Lester Hudson who was the first player in men’s division one history to record a quadruple double (25 points, 12 rebounds, ten assists and ten steals). The biggest strike against him is his age as he will be 25 when the 2009-10 season starts. Daniel Hackett from USC has proven he can play alongside a scorer like O.J. Mayo and is a stout perimeter defender. He would be a better option as a potential undrafted free agent than a player to be selected at 34. Tyreese Rice had a great career at Boston College and definitely proved to everyone he can light up North Carolina, but Baylor’s Jerrells is the highest ranked player according to ESPN’s top 100 thanks to his quickness and ability to push the pace.
Group two (Friday 12:00 PM)
Anthony Goods – 6’3” 200 SG Stanford, Ranked 92
A.J. Price – 6’2” 193 PG UCONN, Ranked 46
Kyle Spain – 6’5” 209 SG San Diego State, Ranked NR
Raymond Sykes – 6’9” 220 C Clemson, Ranked NR
A.D. Vassallo – 6’6” 216 SF Virginia Tech, Ranked NR
This group is A.J. Price and a bunch of players who were apparently invited as a favor to their agents. You can be unimpressed with Spain during this footage against BYU in the Mountain West semis (he is number 15), Sykes is a center who does not rebound much, Goods is an undersized shooting guard who could not break the 29% mark from the college three point line.
Group three (Saturday 10:00 AM)
Courtney Fells – 6’6” 210 SG North Carolina State, Ranked 72
Jeremy Pargo – 6’2” 210 PG Gonzaga, Ranked 69
Garrett Temple – 6’6” 190 G LSU, Ranked NR
Ben Woodside – 5’11” 185 PG North Dakota State, Ranked 93
I would rather have Jannero than Jeremy Pargo, Fells is supposedly impressing teams on the workout circuit and looking at Temple’s numbers I have no idea why he would even be under consideration for a spot in the summer league in Belize. Woodside is the only intriguing player in this group. You may remember him as the player from North Dakota State who almost single handedly upset Kansas in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.
The Nuggets have taken part in a couple of large scale workouts and have seen a lot of players through those exhibitions (click here to see a list of players from the Golden State workouts and click here to see a list of players from the New Jersey workouts). With the Nuggets drafting at 34 it is nearly impossible to know what players they are interested in might be available, but I think it is safe to say that most of the players they are bringing in on Friday and Saturday are mostly summer league fodder at best.
The other big piece of news is the Colorado 14ers have gone the way of the Denver Dynamite. Both teams won their league championship only to end up sitting out the next season.
According to the NBA the 14ers have been purchased by some Dallas muckity mucks and will be moved to Frisco, TX. That means the Nuggets and Nets are without a D League affiliate for next season.
The interesting thing about the departure of the 14ers was that it was just announced that the Broomfield Events Center was going to be managed by a partnership of Anschutz Entertainment and Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which I thought was a very good sign that the financially troubled 14ers would return to Broomfield for another season.
I was fortunate enough to have attended the 14ers final game to scout Sonny Weems and you can look for a post recapping that experience soon. I promise.