Mar 12, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo (4) defends Denver Nuggets guard Evan Fournier (94) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: Draft Day Brings Big Improvements

Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly put together one of the best draft days the Denver Nuggets have ever had yesterday, and the Mile High City has good reason be excited about the assets he brought to the team.

Bravo, Tim Connelly! Bravo!

Connelly’s wheeling and dealing brought two promising draft picks to Denver in Michigan State’s Gary Harris and in Bosnia’s Jusuf Nurkic, and that wasn’t even the biggest move of the day. He also managed to flip a second round pick and backup Evan Fournier to the Orlando Magic for our old friend Arron Afflalo. The newest Nuggets of Afflalo, Harris and Nurkic make up a great trio, and through it all Connelly didn’t have to give up anything meaningful.

What a fun day to be a Nuggets fan! Tim Connelly managed to fill the team’s biggest need by getting a defensive guard and sharpshooter in Afflalo, and they added two young promising players on top of it. Rumors were swirling around the team for weeks before the draft, but no one expected Denver to come out this well after the draft.

The Nuggets were active all day, but the deals broke down like this:

  • They sent Evan Fournier and the 56th pick to the Magic for Arron Afflalo
  • They drafted Doug McDermott with the 11th pick, and proceeded to trade McDermott to the Chicago Bulls for the 16th (Jusuf Nurkic) and 19th picks (Gary Harris).

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Gary Harris (Michigan State) reacts after being selected as the number nineteen overall pick to the Chicago Bulls in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So, the Nuggets got the guy they wanted all along from the draft in Gary Harris (I just covered how good of a fit he is here). They found a new starting guard in veteran Arron Afflalo, who averaged 18.2 points a game last season, AND they got a seven footer with a ton of potential who they can keep in Europe until the roster has enough room to bring him over. Simply put, the Nuggets got a lot better today, and it’s going to be fun to see these moves play out. It’s crazy how the team’s second round pick, power forward Nikola Jokic, is practically a non-story.

The cherry on top of the best draft Denver’s had since 2003 is that Tim Connelly’s moves even helped the franchise save some cash. The Nuggets saved over $3 million (over the entire rookie contract) by taking Harris 19th instead of 11th . It’s hard for fans to put the salary of NBA rookies into perspective, but I don’t think anyone would pass up on the chance to tell their boss that they saved the company $3 million.

The bosses, Stan and Josh Kroenke, have to be happy with what they saw. The Nuggets front office proved they’re behind the current roster by only dumping Fournier, they saved the franchise some cash by trading back in the draft and STILL getting their No. 1 target, and the team added just what it needed in Arron Afflalo to make the Western Conference Playoffs next season.

Tim Connelly was the Nuggets general manager for only 10 days when he picked the unknown Joffrey Lauvergne in last year’s NBA draft, and the Nuggets may never benefit from the 2013 NBA Draft because of it. However, the 2014 NBA Draft proved that Connelly has got what it takes to lead this franchise forward. I know Nuggets nation is happy, and although the draft has been over for awhile now, I’m still sitting here in my 2012 Afflalo jersey, giddy about the results.

Bravo Connelly, Bravo!

Tags: 2014 Nba Draft Arron Afflalo Denver Nuggets Doug McDermott Evan Fournier Gary Harris Jusuf Nurkic

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