Denver Nuggets' 2014 NBA Draft Big Board
Denver has the 11th, 41st and 56th overall selections. It'll look to improve on last year's 36-46 record. 2013-14 was the first time the franchise missed the playoffs since the 2002-03 season.
In case you're just tuning into draft news, the Nuggets are in pursuit of Kevin Love. According to Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, Denver would send Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler as part of the deal for Love. ESPN's Chris Broussard later reported that Denver offered Faried, Chandler and the 11th pick for Love and Kevin Martin.
General manager Tim Connelly is in "win now" mode, which makes sense with the amount of talent on this team and injuries getting the best of the Nuggets last year. Therefore, Denver may have different picks than these on Thursday night in the event of trades.
Nevertheless, Connelly and his staff are doing their homework and preparing as if these are their selections if they can't get the correct trades completed. Let's check out the Nuggets' big board.
Pick No. 11, Option A: Gary Harris
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 20.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.2 SPG
As far as who has the best chance at starting immediately, Gary Harris is the guy.
The Nuggets' perimeter defense took a huge hit last season with the losses of Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer. They also struggled getting used to Brian Shaw's defensive schemes but did make progress in the final weeks.
Shooting guard is also Denver's weakest position, so Harris is a perfect fit to fill these needs. He's a solid two-way player with great consistency.
However, doing the little things well is why he'll be a great complementary piece with the Nuggets. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com explains why he'll be an all-around 2-guard:
Harris has a strong basketball IQ in general, which translates to the offensive end as well. He doesn't turn the ball over very often (2.1 per-40), and is an unselfish passer who executes well in the half-court. He'll generate a couple of assists each game by making a simple extra pass ahead in transition or finding an open shooter or cutter within the flow of the offense.
This is why we continue to see Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans produce successful NBA players. With Harris' ability to be productive with and without the basketball, he will put the pieces together in a potent Nuggets offense.
Pick No. 11, Option B: Nik Stauskas
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 19.7 PPG (44.2 3FG%), 3.3 RPG, 3.7 APG
Nik Stauskas may not be strong on both sides of the ball like Harris, but if he can shoot the rock in Denver like he did with the Michigan Wolverines, the Nuggets could have the best offense in the NBA.
He shot an outstanding 44.2 percent from three last season and did it in a variety of ways—high-ball screens off the dribble, catch-and-shoot off back screens, transition pull-up jumpers—pretty much any method you can think of.
But it's a mistake to think he is just a shooter—he made significant strides from his freshman to sophomore season in becoming a more diverse offensive player. After taking 61.1 percent of his field-goal attempts from behind the arc, he decreased that number to 52.8 and raised his numbers across the board.
(Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com)
His floor vision and ability to cut to the basket have elevated, which primarily launched Stauskas into a consensus top-15 draft pick. Should this continue to evolve in the pros and if Shaw can turn him into an adequate defender with his 6'6" length, Stauskas will be a longtime starter in the NBA.
Pick No. 11, Option C: Doug McDermott
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 31.6 PPG (52.6 FG%, 44.9 3FG%), 8.3 RPG, 1.9 APG
Originally, I had Dario Saric slated for this spot. But when ESPN's Chad Ford reported that Saric agreed to a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes in Turkey and that he likely won't play in the U.S. for two seasons, this changed.
Enter Doug McDermott.
He is the most polished scorer in this year's draft. Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com analyzes how talented he is offensively.
McDermott's efficiency was also extremely well-rounded. He ranks as the most efficient off-screen and isolation scorer, while ranking in the top-3 scoring off put backs, post ups, and cuts. His multi-dimensional scoring ability is thanks to his tremendously high skill level.
His below-average athleticism at 6'8" puts him into an interesting spot, though. McDermott is a swingman who needs to raise his game defensively.
But given that perimeter scoring is his biggest strength coming into the NBA, the 2 seems like a better position for him. He'll have that much more of an advantage shooting over defenders and can post them up.
Plus, if Denver pairs McDermott with Wilson Chandler, it would have more defensive flexibility for matchups.
Pick No. 41, Option A: Cleanthony Early
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 24.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG
There's a good chance Cleanthony Early is off the board at this point, but you never know with late first or early second-round projections.
He was outstanding for the Wichita State Shockers in his two seasons with the program after coming from Sullivan County Community College. He created a buzz during the Shockers' 2012-13 run to the Final Four and their undefeated 2013-14 regular season.
But he put the final touches on his NBA statement when he racked up 31 points (12-of-17 shooting) and seven rebounds against Kentucky in the round of 32 during March Madness. He was defended by Julius Randle for most of the game too.
Bleacher Report's Daniel O'Brien perhaps says it best: "We're probably not looking at a star wing here, but there's no doubt he has the size and offensive versatility to be a factor."
Even though he may not create his own shot consistently, Early is an excellent fit off the bench at the 3 for Denver. He's a dynamic forward who can play anywhere on the floor, and he'll be an explosive option to help solidify a deep Nuggets bench.
Pick No. 41, Option B: DeAndre Daniels
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 18.0 PPG (41.7 3FG%), 8.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 2.0 BPG
If Early is off the board when the Nuggets are up to bat again, then DeAndre Daniels would another option to come off the bench at the 3.
He is an athletic 6'9" forward who can stretch the floor offensively and also provide solid rim protection. He has a variety of post moves with particularly impressive touch around the basket.
He has just fair ball-handling skills, does not create many opportunities for teammates and is somewhat raw physically. As a result, Daniels is a bit of a tweener when it comes to small forward and power forward. But given Denver's frontcourt depth and that there's plenty of upside with him, he could evolve into a legitimate small forward.
Quincy Miller is still on the Denver roster, but his contract for $915,243 next season is nonguaranteed. With Connelly announcing that Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur exercised their contract options with the Nuggets for next season, 12 players are on the books next year. Essentially, Miller's future with Denver remains unclear.
Given that Daniels can rebound and block shots and possesses multiple assets offensively, I'd like to see what Shaw and the coaching staff could do with him.
Pick No. 41, Option C: Spencer Dinwiddie
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 18.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.0 SPG
This pick isn't about bringing in someone who played his college basketball nearby with the Colorado Buffaloes, but more so that Spencer Dinwiddie fills a gap on this Nuggets roster—a bigger guard who can play point.
Ty Lawson returns, but Robinson enters the last year of his deal and Andre Miller is gone. Furthermore, Randy Foye and Evan Fournier are the only shooting guards on the roster as of now, and neither has a guaranteed contract after next season.
Denver needs backcourt depth. Granted, it's unlikely the Nuggets will run into as much bad luck with injuries as they did last year, but they can't risk it either.
The most glaring concern is that Dinwiddie tore his ACL in the middle of last season.
However, according to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman, Dinwiddie is far ahead of schedule for recovery and is expected to be ready for training camp. He was a projected first-round pick before his injury and said, “I feel like I’m the best point guard in the draft."
While that's likely more confidence than reality, he does have the athleticism and size to play point guard on both sides of the ball in the NBA. He's 6'6", can score off the pass or dribble and is particularly lethal in transition with his speed.
If he completely bounces back from his knee injury and this is an isolated incident, he would be a perfect steal in the draft.
Pick No. 56, Option A: Damien Inglis
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 11.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG
We have to keep in perspective that late second-round picks often don't make the 15-man roster once the regular season starts. Both of Denver's selections from the 2013 draft, Erick Green and Joffrey Lauvergne, played overseas last season and could be in the mix to make the cut next year.
Therefore, the Nuggets could go a different route and draft someone with huge potential. That's what Damien Inglis brings to the table.
His physical attributes are what particularly stand out. He is 6'8.5" and 240 pounds with a 7'3" wingspan, according to DraftExpress.com. He's also 18 years old with impressive defensive fundamentals for someone at such a young age.
Shaw should love that Inglis can guard inside or outside. He could make an impact immediately on that side of the ball.
On offense, he's effective in transition and open space but has work to do in most areas. His development there will show how high his ceiling is, but one way or another, Inglis is someone you take a shot with.
Pick No. 56, Option B: Roy Devyn Marble
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 22.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.4 SPG
If the Nuggets don't pick up Dinwiddie or another guard with size, they should snag Roy Devyn Marble with the No. 56 pick.
The great thing about Marble is that there isn't a hole in his game. Whether it's offense and defense, half court and full court, or point guard and shooting guard, he can do it.
On the other hand, he's not exactly outstanding in one area and likely won't become an elite player. He's a streaky shooter and isn't particularly electrifying.
But that's not the goal here. Marble's variety of contributions is what makes him a candidate to have a solid bench role.
His value will come more on the defensive end, but his four years of experience with the Iowa Hawkeyes at multiple positions is key for him in making the roster.
Pick No. 56, Option C: Jordan McRae
2013-14 Statistics Per 40 Minutes: 23.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Even if the Nuggets select a guard with their first or second pick, getting another would be a good move. Again, with their potential depth issues in the backcourt long term, they need to find help for Lawson.
Jordan McRae developed into a dangerous offensive threat by his junior year at Tennessee and really hit the NBA radar when he was a senior. He's a fair shooter but can score from anywhere on the floor and makes good passes in the open court.
Although, as Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com points out, it's McRae's physical build for the 2 that could allow him to be a valuable player in the NBA:
McRae's intrigue at the next level starts with his combination of size and athleticism. Standing 6'5 in shoes with a 7'0 wingspan, the former consensus top-40 recruit has good size and length for the shooting guard position. A good, but not elite athlete with solid quickness and great leaping ability, McRae is certainly on the light side weighing just 178 pounds, one of the biggest hindrances he might face at the pro level, but he has the requisite athleticism common among NBA swingmen.
Perhaps he plays overseas next season and takes a year to fill out. It would give him time to sharpen his ball-handling skills.
But with his constant motor and decent defending skills, he could grow into a suitable and dynamic shooting guard.
All college per-40 minute statistics are from Sports-Reference.com.
All international per-40 minute statistics are from DraftExpress.com.
All contract information is from Basketball Insiders.