Where Are Denver Nuggets' Top Draft Picks from Past 5 Years Now?
The Denver Nuggets haven't had many draft picks in the last five years, but they have scored on several of their first-rounders.
Through the process of losing players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, the Nuggets kept their consistency and haven't missed the playoffs since the 2002-03 season. Some of these picks have contributed to that success.
As for the players the Nuggets acquired draft rights to, according to The Washington Post, Erick Green recently signed a one-year deal with the Italian professional team Montepaschi Siena. Joffrey Lauvergne is currently with KK Partizan of the Serbian League.
Since the Nuggets have only made three first-round selections since 2005, picks that were made by other franchises which Denver obtained the draft rights to are eligible. This opens the door for a couple players on the current roster—most notably someone from the 2009 NBA draft.
Even with this criteria, the last time the Nuggets obtained someone on draft night who eventually played a regular-season game for another NBA franchise was Sonny Weems in 2008. The Nuggets acquired the draft rights to Weems at No. 39 overall from the Chicago Bulls. He played two seasons for the Toronto Raptors and is now playing overseas.
The Nuggets have recently assembled their rosters primarily by trading their own draft picks, current players or just signing them through free agency. Still, there are some big-name picks as well.
(Draft information is from RealGM.com)
(Statistics are via NBA.com)
5. Quincy Miller
Quincy Miller never cracked the rotation as a rookie last season, but it's not like there was any room for a second-round pick on one of the deepest teams in the league. Therefore, Miller went back-and-forth between Denver and the Iowa Energy.
The one-and-done Baylor star made the most of it and thrived in the NBA Development League. In 23 games, he racked up 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
Miller then joined Denver's 2013 summer league squad and displayed the improvements in his game, particularly from behind the arc. He buried 45 percent of his three-pointers while scoring just under 10 points.
If Miller wants any shot of earning a second-string role, he must continue to get better and keep that three-point percentage at a high rate. We know he can block shots and rebound to a certain extent, but becoming a consistent scorer from the outside makes him more appealing in stretching the defense.
According to Hoopsworld.com, Miller still has a non-guaranteed contract of just under $800,000 for the 2013-14 season. The other 14 spots are filled, but without Corey Brewer returning and no other significant small forwards joining the Nuggets, Miller could be the last man in.
4. Jordan Hamilton
Just like Miller, Jordan Hamilton has spent much of his short Nuggets career watching from the sideline. Denver acquired the draft rights to Hamilton from the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 at the No. 26 pick.
Once J.R. Smith departed for New York and Wilson Chandler was plagued with injuries, Hamilton had a shot in making the rotation. Although former head coach George Karl went with the veteran Brewer and Hamilton has been stuck since.
Now with Karl and Brewer out of the picture, Hamilton will have his chance to impress Brian Shaw. With Danilo Gallinari still recovering from his ACL injury, he should get some limited playing time at the very least.
It's all about the diverse offensive attack for the former Texas Longhorn. He's got the range, he attacks off the dribble and can post up at 6'8".
Hamilton also had a solid shooting performance in this year's summer league. In scoring his 15.8 points, he made 44 percent of his three-pointers while converting 85.7 percent of his free throws.
If Hamilton is going to find a spot in the rotation, he's going to have to do it before Gallinari returns. Otherwise, this could be his last season in Denver and Nuggets fans will know him more for his inability to use the drawstring on his shorts.
3. Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier surprised many people with his rookie-season finish.
Drafted at No. 27 in 2012, Fournier spent a majority of the year at the end of the bench or getting some garbage minutes in the fourth quarter. Then, against the Nets toward the end of the regular season, Fournier played with the second string and exploded off the bench for 19 points.
After that night, the French prodigy was the primary backup at the 2. Just two games later, Gallinari partially tore his ACL, and Fournier was thrown into the fire and started the remainder of the regular season.
George Karl liked what he saw and started Fournier in the first four games of the playoffs against Golden State. However, after some disappointing efforts, Fournier lost his spot in the rotation entirely for the final two games.
Nonetheless, for someone who had very little time to prepare for a substantial role and wasn't expected to be a contributor in his first season, Fournier did a commendable job.
With Andre Iguodala now on the Warriors, the starting spot at the 2 is vacant. Fournier could be the guy with his knack for attacking the basket in transition and shooting the three.
Defense is where he needs work. Without Iguodala, Denver's ability to lock shooters down is one of the biggest questions heading into next season.
Whoever does the best job at that early in the year will have an edge at becoming a full-time starter.
2. Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried went through four seasons at Morehead State off the national radar, but that all changed at the end of Faried's senior year when the Eagles made the NCAA tournament. Going up against the No. 4 seed, Faried manhandled the Louisville Cardinals on the glass for 17 of Morehead's 33 rebounds in its upset victory.
The Manimal was selected by the Nuggets with the No. 22 pick in 2011 and began electrifying the Pepsi Center midway through his rookie season. Faried made the All-Rookie First Team.
While being undersized at 6'8" and having a limited offensive skill set, Faried's freakishly athletic talents fit perfectly in Denver's up-tempo system. He never missed a rebound, his motor was always better than the opponents' and he always slammed it home with authority.
This is exactly what Ty Lawson needed; a big guy to run with in transition who never gave up on a play. Faried is a team player, and Nuggets fans love watching him to see what his next vigorous move will be.
Luckily for the Nuggets, according to Hoopsworld.com, Faried is entering the last year of his guaranteed contract, but they have a team option for him in 2014-15 and can extend a qualifying offer in 2015-16. Faried will only make just under $1.4 million this season, and the team option is worth approximately $2.25 million.
For someone who nearly averaged a double-double last season, that's a pretty sweet deal. The Nuggets will eventually need to fork up some cash if they want to keep Faried around, but if he continues to work on his fundamentals, they should do everything they can to sign him to a long-term deal.
1. Ty Lawson
Lawson came off the bench as the backup point guard to Chauncey Billups in his rookie season, but when the Carmelo Anthony trade went down just before the trade deadline the following year, everything changed.
In Denver's first game after the transaction, Lawson started and carved up the Memphis Grizzlies for 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and six steals. The Nuggets had their franchise point guard.
His speed, mid-range shot and skill in the pick-and-roll make him one of the best non-superstar point guards in the league. His numbers continue to get better, and he is becoming a great option to go to in the clutch.
As Lawson enters his prime, more weight falls on his shoulders—since he currently has the longest contract of all Denver players, and the franchise just went through countless changes in the offseason. This is where his leadership and guidance will be needed most, as the Nuggets try to make the playoffs for the 11th-consecutive year.
Since the Nuggets selected Melo in 2003 with the No. 3-overall pick, this is the only pick they have had draft rights to earlier than No. 20. The Nuggets clearly got this one right.
All of the Nuggets' top draft picks are still in Denver.