The NBA Draft is just 2 days away and our final prospect rankings are here
The NBA Draft is finally here tomorrow night and the Denver Nuggets currently own the 26th overall pick. Up to this point in the draft process, the Nuggets have almost exclusively been mocked taking combo guards and wings. With Jamal Murray sidelined for the foreseeable future and Will Barton an unrestricted free agent, Denver needs more help on the wing than they do in the paint. Combine that with the fact that the Nuggets have been bringing in a lot of guards and wings for pre-draft workouts, and it’s fair to assume Denver will target one. On the contrary, Tim Connelly has a history of taking whom he believes is the best player available, regardless of position. We’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow night.
Since our last big board halfway through July, the team workout and interview process have both wrapped up and a pair of projected second round picks have withdrawn their draft eligibility. These aforementioned players are Ariel Hukporti and Roko Prkačin, the ladder of which may have actually snuck into the end of the first round. There’s been far less movement across internet boards and mocks than when the draft process began, but there’s still been steady stock fluctuation throughout the draft.
Rumors have began to circulate that the Nuggets are interested in trading up in the draft, but there’s no clear indication of the range they may be targeting other than “top 20”. While the draft appears to be very deep and I’d support taking whomever falls to them, I also understand the desire to ensure they select a prospect they simply can’t miss out on. Given Denver’s current assets that I believe they’d be willing to part with to move up in the draft, I’d guess that the best pick they’d be able to net would be in the 15-20 range.
Below are four players that I would consider best case scenarios if they are available when Denver is on the clock tomorrow night. Some are certainly less likely than others, but much crazier things have happened. They all not only appear to fit the culture in Denver, but can also potentially fill an area of need. Prospects such as Chris Duarte and Jared Butler only did not qualify because I don’t see a scenario where either one falls to 26. If Denver does find a way into the middle of the draft, those two, as well as Corey Kispert and Davion Mitchell, would be my ideal targets.
Six Best Fits
Rank 20 – Jaden Springer, Combo Guard, Tennessee
The Nuggets lack of elite defensive options at guard was clear in both their playoff series this past season. While PJ Dozier is a very solid option, he is more of a versatile defender than a pure guard stopper. Regardless, I’m of the belief that you can never have too many two-way players, especially with such an offensively oriented core of young talent. It may be a few years before Jaden Springer actually becomes a positive defender, but his effort and athleticism could be enough to make him at least serviceable as her enters the league. If the jumper is legitimate and his unconventional playmaking style continues to develop, Springer would be a welcome addition to Denver’s backcourt.
Rank 21 – Trey Murphy III, Wing, Virginia
The only non-guard in my top six, Trey Murphy III has too many translatable skills for me to not see him having a long NBA career. He has elite size for a wing and while there are valid rebounding and aggression concerns, I attribute those more to Trey simply trying to play the role being asked of him. He doesn’t gamble for many steals or blocks, but Trey is also sound defensively and has the potential to defend 1-4 effectively in the NBA. He may be the least likely of the six prospects to still be on the board when the Nuggets make their selection, but if he were to start slipping, I highly doubt he would make it past Denver at 26.
Rank 22 – Miles McBride, Combo Guard, West Virginia
Miles McBride is in a very similar mold to Jaden Springer. Although, with an additional year of college hoops experience, Miles appears to be slightly more of a completed product and less reliant on further development than Jaden is. McBride provides more reliable playmaking while having similar athletic gifts. Due to the fact that he has been getting selected before Denver’s pick in the vast majority of recent mock drafts, they may have to trade up into the late teens, early 20’s to acquire him. Depending on the cost, I would more than likely be a fan of the acquisition.
Rank 24 – Ayo Dosunmu, Combo Guard, Illinois
I realize I am higher on Ayo Dosunmu than most and he will, in all likelihood, still be available if the Nuggets keep the 26th pick. I look at this as a positive, however, and it actually demonstrates why I lean more against trading up in the draft. Their are so many similar level prospects in the 15-40 range that “settling” for whomever is still available hardly actually feels like “settling”. I see a lot of Will the Thrill’s game in Dosunmu and for all of Barton’s detractors, Denver would miss a lot of what he brought if he were to move on in free agency. This isn’t to say Dosunmu is a lock to have an instant impact similar to Will Barton’s level, but he would still make sense for this team regardless.
Rank 28 – Quentin Grimes, Guard/Wing, Houston
Quentin Grimes has a confidence level that at times tows the line of rationality. For this reason he would fit in perfectly with the likes of Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray and Markus Howard, who all bring this same irrational confidence to varying degrees. I would never complain about giving Nikola Jokic another shooting threat of Grimes’ caliber and I believe he’s excellent value at 26th overall. Short term, he can provide a scoring spark off the bench with solid defense. Long term, he has starting potential at either shooting guard or small forward.
Rank 29 – Josh Christopher, Guard/Wing, Arizona State
Yet another defensive minded wing/guard, but this time with a less reliable jumper. Josh Christopher makes up for the shaky outside stroke with a premier level of athleticism. I would also argue he has the highest defensive ceiling of any of the prospects I’ve mentioned. He may be purely a finisher and defensive specialist at the moment, but that could be enough to carve out a role in the league. At just 19 years old with only 15 games of college hoops experience, there’s plenty of untapped potential.
Josh Christopher worked out for the Nuggets today and is very familiar with Denver’s roster. He called Bol Bol “his guy.” Michael Porter Jr. once sent him a box of Pumas. Christopher’s friends with Monte Morris and loves watching Nikola Jokic play. “It’s like family,” he said.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) July 12, 2021