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6 2014 NBA Draft Prospects Denver Nuggets Must Target

Nick JuskewyczContributor IIIJune 20, 2014

6 2014 NBA Draft Prospects Denver Nuggets Must Target

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    After a 36-46 record last season, the Denver Nuggets are seeking immediate improvement through the 2014 NBA draft. 

    To be fair, injuries gave this team little chance to succeed. The Nuggets have a lot of talent, depth and are better than last year's result.

    Nevertheless, this roster still needs some help to be a Western Conference contender. 

    Since the Ping-Pong balls didn't fall the right way during the lottery, Denver owns the 11th, 41st and 56th overall picks. The 11th spot is the highest the Nuggets have selected since 2003 when they drafted Carmelo Anthony at No. 3.

    Obviously trades could be made, but anything can happen leading up to or during the draft. Let's assume the Nuggets keep their three picks as they stand and see who would be the best selections to fit their team.

Pick No. 11, Option A: Gary Harris

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    Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

    A popular name being thrown around for the Nuggets to select with the 11th overall pick is Gary Harris. I'm fully on board with this, because Randy Foye and Evan Fournier aren't going to cut it at the 2-guard position long term.

    The Nuggets need someone who can play both sides of the ball and take some of the pressure off of Ty Lawson. That means someone who can slash to the basket, guard and provide the intangibles when needed.

    Harris possesses these skills. He's not the fastest or most athletic, but under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, he became a great all-around player.

    Obviously, you don't look for a rookie to immediately put up Andre Iguodala numbers, but Iggy and Harris have similar attributes. Iguodala was that guy who never backed down from a challenge defensively, made things click offensively and often just made the right basketball play.

    Harris forced 2.2 steals per 40 minutes while often guarding the opponent's best player. He routinely accomplished this even with Michigan State's brutal schedule.

    But let's not forget that Harris led the Spartans in scoring last season with 16.7 points. While he's slightly undersized at 6'4", he's dangerous in that he can shoot the three off the pass or dribble, take it all the way to the rim or hit the mid-range jumper.

    Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs took note of how consistent Harris' jumper was when he worked out with the Nuggets.

    As I watched Harris routinely hit three after three, I also noticed just how each shot was the same as the previous one. From the way he released the ball, to how his feet landed on the Pepsi Center practice floor. He ended the workout session with a pretty nice bounce the ball off the floor, catch it, and dunk it play that put a nice cap on the morning display.

    Harris will likely be more of a role player when his NBA career begins, but he'll grow quickly being surrounded by Denver's talent.

    He may not necessarily start out of the gate, but if Harris' defense translates to the pros instantly, head coach Brian Shaw should give him that role. The Nuggets gave up a 28th-best 106.5 points last season and already have plenty of offense in the starting five with Lawson, Kenneth Faried and the return of Danilo Gallinari.

Pick No. 11, Option B: Nik Stauskas

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Outside of Harris, there really isn't another great option at the 2 who is a legitimate defender for the No. 11 pick. Therefore, we turn to someone who could be the best player left on the board and happens to be a shooting guard as well—Nik Stauskas.

    Stauskas is the best shooter in this draft, draining 44.2 percent of his three-pointers and 47 percent of his field-goal attempts overall for his sophomore season. He was primarily just a shooter during his freshman year, but after Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. left for the NBA, Stauskas was the primary scorer for Michigan.

    As DraftExpress.com shows us, he's exceptionally great at shooting off of handoffs and high-ball screens. These are clearly two capabilities that translate well to the NBA, but they'll be particularly useful with the Nuggets.

    Length rarely bothers Stauskas (6'6") when shooting over opponents with his quick release. He can create his own shot and can shake off defenders one-on-one.

    As for the other side of the ball, Stauskas will need to make strides. With the Nuggets having one of the weaker perimeter defenses last season and if Gallinari is a step slower coming back from his knee injury, Denver will need Stauskas to grasp Shaw's scheme sooner rather than later.

    But with his adequate height and quick feet, there's some potential. Plus, with his work ethic and drastic improvement from his rookie to sophomore year, he could continue to get better in other areas than just scoring.

    Even if Stauskas comes off the bench at first and plays his way into the starting five, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

Pick No. 41, Option A: DeAndre Daniels

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Should the Nuggets go the shooting-guard route in the first round, their next move should be finding a sixth man, preferably at small forward.

    Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have both suffered numerous injuries in their young careers, and unless Quincy Miller improves at an incredibly exceptional rate, the Nuggets need someone who can play on both ends of the floor off the bench.

    DeAndre Daniels emerged when the Connecticut Huskies went on to win last season's national championship. He posted 16 points and 7.2 rebounds during March Madness games last season.

    With his athleticism, 6'9" frame and shooting range, Daniels is tough to deal with. He's also an outstanding rebounder for someone who can play at the 3.

    Furthermore, Daniels can play in the post, either squaring up to the basket or with his back to the rim. He can knock it down from distance (41.7 percent from three last season) and is particularly successful in spot-up situations, which makes him a pick-and-pop candidate with Lawson.

    His offensive weakness is that he doesn't have the ball-handling skills you want in a small forward. At the same time, they're average, not atrocious. 

    Defensively, he's not the most physical, isn't that strong and he won't have a chance against the elite wing players instantly. But with his length, ability to force turnovers and run the floor, he could turn into a nice fit off the bench if he bulks up a bit.

    In terms of style of play, Daniels is a combination of Chandler and Darrell Arthur. 

    He does have some developing to do, but Daniels isn't a huge project like some second-round picks can be. His ceiling is fairly high, and he does have starting potential.

Pick No. 41, Option B: Spencer Dinwiddie

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Another need Denver must address is point guard.

    Obviously Lawson is the man at point, but Nate Robinson is the only other point guard expected back with Aaron Brooks becoming an unrestricted free agent. Additionally, Foye and Fournier are the only 2-guards on the books for next season, per Basketball Insiders.

    With Andre Miller gone, then consider that Lawson and Robinson are both under 6'0". The Nuggets need a guy who can legitimately play point with size. Foye and Fournier stepped in at times last year when needed, but they are much more suited for the 2.

    Here's Spencer Dinwiddie. Most Nuggets fans know about the former Colorado Buffaloes star having played his college ball close by.

    However, that means he brings a red flag that fans are far too familiar with—he tore his ACL during Pac-12 play last season.

    But let's consider Dinwiddie's dynamic upside—he's 6'6" with great speed and can handle the ball. He put up 18.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and two steals per 40 minutes last season before the injury.

    Dinwiddie can score from anywhere on the floor, penetrate and finish. His height enhances his vision to play point, and he does a good job of finding open shooters.

    On defense, he forces turnovers, loves to play in transition and has the great combination of size and speed to guard the primary ball-handlers.

    Should the injury be a concern? Sure.

    But selecting him as an early- to mid-second-round pick? For a man of Dinwiddie's talent, the reward is much greater than the risk.

Pick No. 56, Option A: Roy Devyn Marble

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    If the Nuggets select Daniels with the 41st pick, this means they still need someone at point. Roy Devyn Marble is the next man up to fill this role.

    Like Dinwiddie, Marble is 6'6" and a versatile player on both ends.

    Per 40 minutes, Marble led Iowa with 22.5 points to go with 4.7 assists, 4.3 boards and 2.4 steals last year. He split time between point and shooting guard over his four-year career with the Hawkeyes and can do the same in the NBA.

    He has experience in the pick-and-roll, will post up smaller guards and can spot up from anywhere with his high release on his jumper. He particularly excelled in Iowa's uptempo scheme, which will fit right in with Denver.

    The downfall is that Marble is a streaky shooter. Against Michigan, he dropped 26 points on 6-of-10 shooting from three, but was 3-of-15 from the field and 0-of-6 from three against Tennessee in the First Four of March Madness.

    On the other side, Marble is as consistent as you can find defensively. He may not jump off the page athletically, but he has very active feet and hands, is fundamentally sound and has a great eye for jumping the passing lanes.

    Whether it's Dinwiddie, Marble or someone else, this is the type of player the Nuggets need—someone who can take some time to develop but provide something in the backcourt the team doesn't have already. Whoever it is, he won't get much playing time for the 2014-15 season, but if Robinson doesn't re-sign afterward, he could be Lawson's backup for the future.

Pick No. 56, Option B: Damien Inglis

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Now we go back to small forward depth should the Nuggets grab Dinwiddie at No. 41.

    Damien Inglis, who spent last season playing overseas in France, has a tremendous amount of upside. He's only 18 years old, is 6'8.5", 240 pounds and has a 7'3" wingspan, according to DraftExpress.com.

    Offense will be a work-in-progress, but his physical talents are near perfect defensively. Here's a taste of Jonathan Givony's scouting report at DraftExpress.com on Inglis.

    Inglis is a unique prospect in terms of the versatility he displays, but his best attribute from a NBA standpoint likely revolves around his defensive potential. He's got great instincts and fundamentals to compliment his outstanding size, length and strength, making him capable of guarding up to three positions (2-3-4) at the NBA level. He's just as big as many power forwards, but is capable of getting in a stance and keeping opponents in front.

    Another guy who needs offensive development may not thrill Denver fans, considering that's what the Nuggets have been doing with a lot of their young players as of late.

    However, factor in how much Denver needs a prolific defender and how distinctive he is physically, and Inglis is absolutely worth a shot in the second round.

     

    Unless noted otherwise, all statistics are from Sports-Reference.com.

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