The Denver Nuggets’ biggest offseason decision is staring right at them as the 2014 NBA draft is only 13 days away. This deep and exciting draft has potential to impact the franchise positively for years to come. General manager Tim Connelly has got a lot of options, so he will need to be at his best during his second NBA draft to ensure the Nuggets make the right choice.
The Nuggets still have a chance to move around in this draft. However, as it inches closer, it’s most likely that the Nuggets will stay put, and use their pick at No. 11. So, as the first section of this piece explained, we’re looking to find who would be the best fit. This draft has a plethora of players that could fit well in Denver, and it won’t be an easy selection for a deep team that is expected to make the playoffs next season.
In the first section of this piece, we covered the players that the Nuggets would HAVE to take if they somehow fell outside of the top ten: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Noah Vonleh. All of those guys are projected to be the first names called, so it’s time we jumped into the players who’ve shown immense potential without proving they’d be a perfect NBA fit. For the Nuggets at No. 11, that means three players: Aaron Gordon, Doug McDermott, and Dario Saric. All three are projected by most mock drafts to be top 10 picks, but each has real potential to fall to No. 11.
Aaron Gordon 6’9″ PF
Gordon really helped his draft stock and showed off his athleticism at the draft combine. He’s projected to be that “hustle” guy that fights for every single rebound that any NBA contender needs. He can be the “motor” of a team with his explosive dunks and energy, but he doesn’t have too much back to the basket offensive game, and is considered very “raw” and athletic.
You may be thinking, “Hmmm, don’t the Nuggets have a player like that already?” And you’d be thinking right, since Gordon’s game is very similar to Kenneth Faried‘s game. However, Faried only has one year left on his Nuggets contract. So, if the Nuggets aren’t convinced he’s a $10 million man, Gordon is a great insurance policy.
Doug McDermott 6’7″ SF
All about Buckets. Doug McDermott was about buckets in college, and he’s leaving college as the fifth highest scorer in NCAA history. He’s not the fastest or most athletic forward in the draft by any measure, but he can straight up shoot the ball. He’ll be tough to defend as he can score in a ton of different ways, but his defense will be questionable AT BEST. NBA power forwards will destroy him in the post, and small forwards would easily be a step ahead of him on a drive.
Mar 29, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (right) shoots against Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker (15) during the second half in the finals of the west regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
However, if the Nuggets want to ignore the defense for now, McDermott has the potential to be the answer to the biggest question facing the Nuggets since Carmelo Anthony
left Denver: “Who do you go to down one with five seconds left on the clock in a big game?” Best-case scenario, McDermott is the go-to scorer this team has been lacking for years.
Dario Saric 6’10” SF/PF
The Nuggets have a fascination with drafting international players described as skilled. For example, in just the past two years, they’ve taken Evan Fournier
, Rudy Gobert
, and Izzet Turkyilmaz. In the 2014 NBA Draft, Croatian
Dario Saric is that international player. Scouts that have had the chance to see him play describe him as a high basketball IQ guy with some serious scoring ability. He’s reported to have a strong work ethic (a nice fit for Brian Shaw
), but currently lacks the athleticism to be a good NBA defender. If the Nuggets go Saric, they’ll have decided they don’t have room on the roster for a “big name” rookie this year.
A Saric pick means the Nuggets expect to contend for the playoffs next year, and they don’t think anyone left at No. 11 would help in the playoff push. They’d probably allow him to continue to play and develop in Europe while letting Shaw focus on the roster they currently have.
Ah, draft season, you are a wonderful beast. Two full articles of great fits for our Denver Nuggets, and it’s still possible EVERY player mentioned will be gone by the time the Nuggets get to make their selection. So, we have plenty more to cover. In Part 3 we’ll talk about the players that should definitely be available when the 11th pick comes around, and we’ll find the best overall fit for the Nuggets.