Denver Nuggets Draft History: The Top (and Bottom) Moments
After reviewing the Nuggets’ drafts over the last 32 years, I've got to say that there isn’t much to be happy about if you are a Denver fan.
In their over three decades in the NBA, the Nuggets have managed to draft two players that went on to be an All Star with the team. Their draft résumé reads more like a list of foreign flops and big-time busts than franchise-building picks.
Here is a list of picks and changed the Nuggets for the better (but more often the worst):
Busts: Tony Battie and Raef LaFrentz
I couldn't decide who was a bigger bust for the Nuggets, so I just put them together.
Battie most recently enjoyed moderate success with the Orlando Magic, reaching the NBA Finals last season. But he only lasted one season with Denver.
LaFrentz, whose contract has made him a human trading chip, never lived up to expectations in his three-and-a-half seasons with the Nuggets.
Bust: Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002
The Nuggets to a chance on 7-foot forward from Georgia and ended up paying for it.
Selected ahead of Amare Stoudemire (who ended up being a four-time All Star) while "Skita" never amounted to much and is now out of the league.
Denver somewhat redeemed themselves when they traded the 25th pick (Frank Williams) and fan-favorite Antonio McDyess to the New York Knicks for fifth overall Nenê and Marcus Camby.
Boom: Draft Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Dikembe Mutombo, LaPhonso Ellis and Bryant Stith in Three Consecutive Drafts.
The early 90s marked the glory years of Denver Nuggets draft picking.
They drafted Abdul-Rauf (born Chris Jackson) third overall in 1990, Mutombo fourth in 1991, and Ellis (fifth) and Stith(13th) in the 1992 draft.
Together these three players would make up the backbone of the team that upset Seattle in 1994. All three are in the top 30 all-time Nugget scorers.
Bust: James Earl Ray in 1980
The power forward out of Jacksonville University was selected fifth overall by Denver, ahead of future Nuggets Kiki Vandeweghe (11th overall) and Bill Hanzlik (20th).
Ray played three seasons with Nuggets, averaging a robust 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
By 1983, Ray was out of the NBA and playing in Europe.
Boom: Carmelo Anthony in 2003
By some act of God, no doubt Joe Dumars eliminated the possibility of another Nuggets draft goof when he passed on Carmelo and allowed him to fall to Denver at pick No. 3.
Despite a few off-the-court problems and one on-the-court problem, Anthony has been named an All Star twice and was voted All-NBA Third Team for the third time in his career.
He shook a big gorilla off his back this year when he led Denver to their first conference finals in 24 years.