Denver Nuggets: 2019 NBA Draft grades

(Photo by Matteo Marchi/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Matteo Marchi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets had no picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, but they were still able to come away with Bol Bol, who was viewed as a top-20 player.

The Denver Nuggets went into the 2019 NBA Draft with no picks due to a series of cap-clearing moves such as the Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler trades.

After being mostly silent all night, the team saw former Oregon center Bol Bol slowly sliding down the board and swooped in to grab him after the Miami Heat selected him at No. 44. It marked the second year in a row that they’ve gotten a player that slid down boards after being viewed by most as a top prospect.

Bol played in just nine games at Oregon, but he was electric in those nine games. In 29.8 minutes per game, he shot 56.1 percent from the floor to go with an outstanding 52.0 percent from 3-point range. His impressive 7’7″ wingspan gave him some great shot-blocking ability as he averaged 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes. He immediately adds a brand new element to the bench this team hasn’t had yet.

Mason Plumlee is under contract for next season, but he doesn’t provide much in the way of floor-spacing. That’s where Bol comes in. His ability to run while stretching the floor are aspects that could allow the Nuggets to go with an ultra-big lineup featuring Bol and Nikola Jokic at times, where Jokic works on the block and Bol pulls his man outside. Bol is an example of a player with a high ceiling that you take a shot on at that point in the draft.

Few players have come to the NBA with his combination of size and finesse. It’s rare for a player that’s over 7’0″ to be able to play the way that he does, and, if he’s able to show that the way he played during his short time at Oregon is sustainable, he’s automatically the steal of the draft.

Denver was able to get him for a future second round pick. When that’s your investment on a potential stud midway through the second round, that’s a trade you do 10 times out of 10.

Another reason this selection is so palatable for the Nuggets is the fact that Bol’s contract will be exponentially cheaper than if they had selected him in the first round. Second round contracts are cheaper, and, with a roster that’s gradually getting more expensive, they need to keep their good players cheap as long as you can. They’ll be getting a possible rotation player that will be playing on a minimal salary for the next few years.

One negative to Bol’s draft stock, outside of the foot injury that sidelined him for nearly all of last season, is his elevated age. He’s 19 years old now, and he’ll turn 20 in the middle of November. He still has a ton of potential to go and do some special things, but developmental prospects are usually younger, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo being just 18 when he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks.

At the end of the day, getting a guy most analysts viewed as a surefire first round pick in the middle of the second round is amazing value. It’s one of the best picks of the draft, and it comes without a ton of risk. Bol could bust, and his weight at just 205 pounds could pose an issue when matched up against bigger centers like Jusuf Nurkic and Karl-Anthony Towns. Bottom line, though, is this pick is a great one with a lot of upside and low risk.

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Grade: A