Analyzing Denver Nuggets' Biggest Draft Needs

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Analyzing Denver Nuggets' Biggest Draft Needs
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets have great depth, but there are a few needs they must address in the 2014 NBA draft.

As general manager Tim Connelly said in an interview with Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com, "It’s the best day of the year to improve your team. Historically, it’s where you get better – draft night."

Whether that's through keeping their 11th-, 41st- and 56th-overall picks, or packaging together some sort of trade, Connelly is correct.

The Nuggets shouldn't move up in the draft. They could trade down to try to get a star on the wing, but the No. 11 pick isn't exactly a hot commodity.

Even though Denver posted a 36-46 record last season, it never had a fully healthy squad and is certainly filled with playoff-caliber talent. With Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried alongside all the other solid pieces, the Nuggets need to use the the draft to plug in the backcourt gaps.

 

Shooting Guard

USA TODAY Sports

The 2-guard is the weakest spot on this Nuggets squad.

Randy Foye did a commendable job last season taking on more responsibility than most thought he would have to, but he's hit his ceiling and doesn't have a huge strength outside of knocking down three-pointers.

Evan Fournier is coming along, but how realistic is it that he'll be a future starter? It's possible, and last year was a scramble with all the injuries to the team, but he's still inconsistent, and his shooting percentages declined last season.

Denver needs someone who can play both sides of the ball. That man is Gary Harris, who is No. 10 on Tyler Conway's big board at Bleacher Report. 

Head coach Brian Shaw will have plenty of offense between Lawson, Gallinari and Faried on the floor. The Nuggets clearly missed Andre Iguodala last year—Iguodala was not only a great defensive presence, he also connected the dots on the floor.

Harris is that type of playersomeone who can defend on the perimeter, play without the basketball on offense and do the little things to help your team win. He's a strong shooter too.

Another guy Denver could select is Harris' former in-state rival Nik Stauskas. 

With the departures of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., plus the injury to Mitch McGary, Stauskas was the Michigan Wolverines' leader and primary scorer. His improvements were quite evident.

Nik Stauskas Freshman to Sophomore Year
PPG FGA FG% 3FGA 3FG% FTA FT% APG
2012-13 11.0 7.6 46.3 4.7 44.0 2.2 85.1 1.3
2013-14 17.5 10.9 47.0 5.8 44.2 5.7 82.4 3.3

ESPN

Granted Stauskas is a different type of guard than Harris. Defense isn't one of Stauskas' strengths.

However, Stauskas' range is ridiculous, and he can catch fire off the pass or the dribble. We saw him do this consistently each night on the biggest stages in Big Ten play and March Madness.

At 6'6", Stauskas has good length for a shooting guard, which should help defensively if he develops under Shaw. Should that happen and his shooting continues to get even better, he could be a similar player to Klay Thompson, who was selected 11th overall in 2011.

Optimistic? Yes. Unrealistic? No.

 

Small Forward

No one available at No. 11 will be able to come in and start over Gallinari or Wilson Chandler. Assuming all is well with Gallo to start training camp, he's the man at the 3.

Having said that, both players have dealt with several injuries, and neither are more than seven years into their careers. Denver can't take the chance of relying on both of these guys playing full seasons.

Furthermore, as we saw last season, Quincy Miller has made some progress, but there's a long way to go. His contract for $915,243 next season is non-guaranteed, according to Basketball Insiders.

Should Harris and Stauskas be off the board by the 11th pick, Doug McDermott is a legit option. While he's most fitted for small forward, he could easily play the 2 if needed.

McDermott's one of the best overall scorers in the draft and has a superb feel for the game. His numbers were steady in his four years with the Creighton Bluejays, but as he matured, he started finding more ways to put the ball in the basket and created mismatches.

Furthermore, in each of those four seasons, McDermott converted over 52 percent of his shots, 40 percent of them from three and pulled down seven rebounds. Like Stauskas, he'll need some work defensively, but with his basketball intelligence and work ethic, this is a team guy who contributes in multiple ways.

Putting him in the backcourt alongside Chandler and Nate Robinson would make an already potent offense even more lethal. 

 

Combo Guard with Versatility in the Second Round

Matthew Holst/Getty Images

For the second round, it's wise to just go with the best player available. There isn't anything else pressing for Denver to go after.

However, getting a dynamic guard who can handle the ball would be an ideal move.

As well as Aaron Brooks did with Denver, who will be an unrestricted free agent (per Basketball Insiders), I can't see the franchise re-signing him with Lawson and Robinson ahead in the pecking order. Brooks has a lot of similarities to both guys, and he can be more than a benchwarmer elsewhere.

So, assuming Brooks is gone and with Andre Miller out of the picture, that leaves only four guards on the current roster. That's also if the Nuggets don't bring Erick Green over from Italy, who the Nuggets got with the 46th-overall pick last year.

Roy Devyn Marble is someone to keep an eye on.

He was primarily a shooting guard with the Iowa Hawkeyes but did play a fair amount at point. He's best at the 1 or 2, but he could play the 3 at 6'6" if Denver went small.

Marble can be a great asset in that he can play in the pick-and-roll, post up and shoot the three. He's also great in transition, slashes well without the ball and is a solid defender with his lateral quickness.

With 17 points, 3.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds his senior year, it's easy to like someone who can do a bit of everything.

The downside is that Marble isn't outstanding at one thing, which is why he's a likely second-round pick.

Nevertheless, whoever is selected for Denver in the second round probably won't make the primary rotation out of the gate. Marble would fill that role in being the next-man up and could play his way into the mix with some experience.

 

Frontcourt Is Full

Bart Young/Getty Images

Why not a big man? Well, where's the room?

Faried has emerged as a possible All-Star candidate at power forward. Timofey Mozgov has significantly improved and should be the starting center.

JaVale McGee returns, and he was Denver's starter at the 5 last year before going down with his fractured leg. J.J. Hickson moves back to power forward, and even if he hasn't fully recovered from his ACL tear by the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Darrell Arthur is there.

Who should Denver take with the No. 11 pick?

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Anthony Randolph is still on the roster, even though he doesn't really fit into the rotation. However, Joffrey Lauvergne, Denver's other second-round pick from last year, is making significant strides overseas, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.

The Nuggets have their frontcourt solidified. They should focus on the perimeter in the draft.

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