Mar 27, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Zach LaVine (14) lays the ball up ahead of Florida Gators forward Casey Prather (24) during the first half in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: The Big Draft Decision (Part 2.5 of 3)

The Denver Nuggets are a talented team on the brink of a Western Conference playoff berth, and the 2014 NBA draft slated for June 26 is the next step in a building a true title contender.

In the first two parts (part 1 and part 2) of our Nuggets draft coverage, we looked at a bunch of players who will likely already be drafted when the Nuggets pick 11th.

So, now it’s time to dive deep into the draftees who should (based on multiple draft projections) be available to the team when they get to make their highest pick since 2003. As a disclaimer, the Nuggets still could move their pick in a trade, but it’s most likely they will use the 11th pick.

Also, the draft is unpredictable at times. So, there is also a good chance some of these players are drafted in the top 10, and aren’t available to the Nuggets. That’s part of what makes the draft special, so let’s jump into the prospects!

James Young 6’7” SG
College basketball fans will remember Young from his crazy athletic dunk in the national championship game, and that dunk speaks a lot to what Young will bring to the NBA. He’s a real athletic guard who can score when needed and is a great size for the NBA game. However, similar to the other scorers we’ve mentioned, he is a liability on the defensive end. He would be more of a project for Brian Shaw as he’s one of the younger players in the draft, and he would have a lot to learn before truly contributing.

Rodney Hood 6’8” SF
Hood is a great size for a small forward, and he brings some great shooting along with the height. He’s also considered one of the better defensive prospects in the draft, and that is a needed area of improvement for the Nuggets, who gave up 104.4 points a game last season. However he’s got a smaller build than most forwards and would need some weight work before being reliable. Also, finding court time for Hood would be difficult for Shaw as he’s already got a small forward prospect in Quincy Miller he admittedly loves, and two solid small forwards in Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard/forward James Young (1) dunks the ball over Connecticut Huskies center Amida Brimah in the second half during the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Zach LaVine 6’6” PG/SG
The Denver Post reported that LaVine had a great workout with the Nuggets on Thursday, and LaVine would be another incredible athlete for this fast breaking Nuggets team. LaVine has “fan favorite” potential because he can make the hardest dunks look simple, and has some serious three point range. The UCLA guard does lack some basketball IQ, especially considering he plays some point guard, and it’s a concern that he struggled to make any real impact at UCLA later in the season.

So, picking LaVine would give us, and the Nuggets, a nice view into how quick Brian Shaw’s development skills can be employed on younger players. Lavine’s a boom or bust type of pick, and the Nuggets would have a player who could contribute quickly if Shaw can bring his IQ to the NBA level.

Gary Harris 6’4” SG
Harris is considered one of, if not the best, defenders in the draft. Those who caught him play at Michigan State know he’s a serious competitor, and Harris can stroke when it comes to shooting from beyond the arc. His shooting would be a very valuable asset as Shaw wants to add more “inside-out” game into the Nuggets offense.Harris could fill an immediate defensive need for the Nuggets, because the Western Conference is stacked with great offensive guards (Stephan Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, etc) and the team doesn’t currently have a good defensive guard.

The Nuggets’ biggest concerns with Harris would be that he had a tendency to force shots, and that the ultra-athletic shooting guards in the NBA would be able to seriously limit his offensive production. However, his defense gives him the best chance to see the court out of all the prospects due to him potentially fulling the teams biggest need.

Harris, Young, LaVine, and Hood round out the Nuggets draft big board for the 2014 draft. It’s filled with a lot of athletic players who would (for the most part) not see too much playing time in there rookie season given the Nuggets’ depth. We’ll pull it all together and pick our top choice in part three.

Tags: Denver Nuggets Gary Harris James Young Nba Draft Rodney Hood Zach Lavine

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