Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for Denver Nuggets
But before the draft even started, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday morning that the Nuggets acquired former Denver guard Arron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic for Evan Fournier and the 56th pick.
Then when the draft got underway, Denver general manager Tim Connelly made an outstanding move.
The Nuggets selected Doug McDermott with the No. 11 pick, but they traded him and Anthony Randolph to the Chicago Bulls for the draft rights of the No. 16 and No. 19 picks, plus a future second-rounder. Denver received Jusuf Nurkic at No. 16 (No. 11 for DraftExpress' mock draft) and Gary Harris at No. 19 (another popular choice at No. 11).
Denver later went back down the international path and snagged Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick.
So, when Thursday night concluded, the Nuggets gained Afflalo, Nurkic, Harris, Jokic and a future second-rounder. They lost Fournier, Randolph, McDermott (No. 11 pick) and Roy Devyn Marble (No. 56 pick).
Time will ultimately tell, but it looks like Connelly nailed this draft. With all this to digest, let's figure out what Denver's depth chart looks like.
2013-14 Statistics: 35.8 MIN, 17.6 PPG, 8.8 APG, 1.6 SPG
This is a no-brainer by going with the floor general of this Nuggets squad.
Despite a rib and ankle injury last season, Ty Lawson is coming off his best season yet with career-highs of 17.6 points, 8.8 assists and 1.6 steals. He led the Nuggets in all three categories, logged the most minutes on the team and did this under a new head coach in Brian Shaw.
Lawson should benefit next season with a healthy roster and Afflalo coming back to Denver. Therefore, expect his shooting percentages to come up and not have to take on as much scoring responsibility.
Still, Lawson should be getting 35-plus minutes and will be the face of this team.
2013-14 Statistics: 19.7 MIN, 10.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 APG
As one of the biggest energy boosts and scorers off the bench, Nate Robinson opting in for the final year of his contract is great news for Denver.
Robinson tore his ACL on Jan. 29 last year. But as Aaron Lopez of Nuggets.com reports, Robinson is on schedule with rehab and hopes to be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season.
Without Andre Miller around and Aaron Brooks becoming an unrestricted free agent, look for Robinson's minutes and production to increase.
2013-14 Statistics (with Orlando Magic): 35.0 MIN, 18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.5 SPG
After a short stint with the Orlando Magic, Afflalo returns to the Mile High City.
Afflalo spent three seasons in Denver from 2009 through 2012. He posted 11.9 points while shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 41.9 percent from three and 80.1 percent from the free-throw line.
Now the question is, how does he fit into the rotation?
This is a guy you start at the 2 right away.
While he'll be playing for Shaw for the first time and this team looks a lot different than it did in 2012, Afflalo has great familiarity with key starters Lawson and Danilo Gallinari. The Nuggets also have a lot more offensive cohesion than the Magic, so his numbers should be closer to his old Denver numbers.
Furthermore, Afflalo is leaving an Orlando team that went 43-121 the last two seasons. He should be fully energized to get the Nuggets back to the postseason.
2013-14 Statistics: 30.7 MIN, 13.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.8 SPG
With the incoming Afflalo, Randy Foye takes a back seat.
However, this could actually be beneficial for Foye. Putting him next to Robinson will allow the two combo guards to mix and match on both sides of the ball.
Foye racked up 30.7 minutes last year, this most since he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008-09. With the injuries to Lawson and Robinson and the departure of Miller, Foye picked up as much slack as possible at both guard positions.
That should come down to about 20 minutes with all the scoring depth in this backcourt. But surely Denver would like to see him improve last season's 38 percent from three.
2013-14 Statistics: 32.3 MIN, 16.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG
The Nuggets bring in perhaps the biggest steal in the draft. Many thought Harris would go to Denver at No. 11, including myself, but the franchise was still able to grab him with the 19th pick.
There are three things to like about Harris—basketball IQ, shooting and defense. All three are important and will be noticed, but his ability to guard will stand out the most.
Denver gave up a 28th-best 106.5 points last season, lacked a consistent perimeter defender and allowed too much penetration.
This is one of three places where competition will be fierce come training camp. Harris isn't a benchwarmer and must get some playing time without relying on last season's abundance of injuries.
If I had to guess, the Nuggets will be particularly active when the free agency period starts. Whether that's moving one of the shooting guards or small forwards, there is significant depth on the wing.
For now, Harris is third on the list. But he'll get his minutes somehow.
2012-13 Statistics (Injured 2013-14): 32.5 MIN, 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.9 SPG
The long awaited return of Gallinari is almost here (knock on wood). Our latest update comes from Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com on June 9 and says Gallinari is hoping to be ready by the start of training camp.
While rushing Gallo back is the last thing Denver needs to do, his game will certainly help get the franchise back on the winning side. His versatility on both sides of the ball was missed not only last year, but during the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors in 2012-13.
If Gallinari is ready by training camp and has some time to get comfortable in preseason, the starting job is his. The diverse offensive attack and ability to guard lengthy small forwards like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are too valuable.
2013-14 Statistics: 31.1 MIN, 13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG
With Gallinari out last year, Wilson Chandler took over the starting role and did a fair job all things considered.
He logged 31.1 minutes, the most since the 2010-11 season. Chandler was also able to play more on the perimeter and took a career-high 5.7 three-pointers to allow more room for the Denver big men to operate down low.
But his efficiency and shooting percentages all took a hit. Denver also needed Chandler to step up defensively, but he remained pretty much the same and perhaps took a step back while learning Shaw's scheme.
With Chandler still struggling to remain healthy as he enters his eighth season, we've likely seen him reach his ceiling.
Still, he's a solid sixth man or scorer off the bench.
2013-14 Statistics: 15.2 MIN, 4.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.6 BPG
If there's a future that looks uncertain with the Nuggets, it belongs to Quincy Miller. Not only did the franchise add Afflalo and Harris, Miller's contract for $915,243 next season is non-guaranteed.
Miller did play 52 contests and started 16 of them last year. He gained experience, started to show more promise on both ends of the floor and improved on the glass.
Still, it was nothing exactly noteworthy, and he only had the opportunity because of how banged up the roster was.
Because Miller is heading into his third season, has shown some progress and isn't a financial concern, I think he'll be back. But it wouldn't shock me if it went the other way.
2013-14 Statistics: 27.2 MIN, 13.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Once the Nuggets got on the other side of last season's trade deadline and out of their February funk, Kenneth Faried was as hot as any power forward in the NBA—he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds over his final 25 games.
Maybe trade rumors played a partial role, but Faried simply took his game to the next level through hard work. His offensive game is more balanced, he is starting to add fundamentals to his athleticism and he is maintaining the same relentless motor.
Shaw and his coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for his progress and should clearly keep rewarding "The Manimal" as the starting power forward.
2013-14 Statistics: 26.9 MIN, 11.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
When J.J. Hickson joined the Nuggets, he was coming to play the 4. But that went out the window when JaVale McGee suffered his leg injury five games into the year.
Hickson should finally get back to his more natural position
However, Hickson was another Nuggets player who suffered an ACL injury, and that happened on March 21. According to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post, Hickson is aiming his return for the start of the regular season, but training camp is unlikely.
Hickson led Denver on the glass last season to go with a modest offensive skill set. Even if he's not ready by the start of the regular season, Denver has a deep frontcourt, and Hickson will get 20-plus minutes when he's 100 percent.
2013-14 Statistics: 17.1 MIN, 5.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 0.6 SPG
Like Robinson, Darrell Arthur exercised his player option and is back with Denver for the final year of his contract.
Arthur is in a similar spot to Harris. He's third in the pecking order for now, but he is easily the best defender among the group.
He also started firing three-pointers during the final weeks of last season and is Denver's best option in the pick-and-pop—a bonus that helps Lawson get to the rim.
This is another position where the Nuggets could make a trade of some sort. If not, I see Arthur getting about 15 minutes each night, but slowly losing playing time as Shaw tightens the rotation.
2013-14 Statistics: 21.6 MIN, 9.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Even against a healthy McGee and two draft picks, Timofey Mozgov earned the spot as starting center. Furthermore, despite Faried's progression, Mozgov gets my vote for the most improved Nuggets player.
While playing a physical brand of basketball, Mozgov consistently evolved on offense (minus the bizarre late three-pointers) and continued to run the floor effectively. He contested every shot at the rim and began playing around 30 minutes in the final weeks.
Mozgov simply flourished under Shaw.
To be fair, McGee and Nurkic have higher ceilings at the moment, so Mozzy may not be the long-term solution at the 5. But he's the best option at this point, and he'll always fight every second he's on the floor.
2013-14 Statistics: 16.0 MIN, 7.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG
McGee was Denver's starting center for the first five games last year, but his fractured left tibia sidelined him for the season. Considering the small sample size and that this injury could have easily been bothering him before he actually sat out, I wouldn't look into last year's numbers at all.
But unlike heading into 2013-14 when the question was if McGee could play 30-to-35 minutes a night, now it's how much of a role will he have on this team? With Mozgov boosting his game and Nurkic in the picture, anything is possible.
This will be a battle between McGee and Nurkic for who gets to back up Mozgov. McGee has the athleticism and creates momentum-shifting plays, but will we see his technique, fundamentals and half-court game develop?
McGee has the inside track for playing about 20 minutes off the bench. But nailing the mid-range jumper, defending the post consistently and not making careless errors will determine if he can get his starting job back.
2013-14 Statistics (Adriatic): 16.6 MIN, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
2013-14 Statistics (Eurocup): 15.4 MIN, 8.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG
The Nuggets continue to enjoy the international route.
At 6'11" and 280 pounds, Nurkic's physicality stands out. What also stands out is how well he moves without the ball. As DraftExpress analyzes, he has a lot of versatility for someone his size.
Nurkic's efficiency in forcing turnovers catches the eye too. He's very active, can cause mayhem and run the floor.
In a sense, he has a similar game to Mozgov, but perhaps with more potential.
While there was speculation that Nurkic might get stashed overseas, Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs tells us that Connelly will have him with the Nuggets for the upcoming season. If this remains true, they will have at least three true centers.
For now, Nurkic is third on the depth chart. But as he matures, don't be surprised to see him make the primary rotation in the near future.
2013-14 Statistics (Adriatic): 25.0 MIN, 11.4 PTS, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Just when you thought Connelly was done with the frontcourt, he went back for more. And of course, the pick was an international center.
But even though Jokic is 6'11", 253 pounds and you might think he's too similar to Nurkic, they have fairly different games.
Jokic plays with more finesse, relies more on touch around the basket and can stretch the floor. He's a prime candidate for pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations.
Considering that there are only two spots available to make the 15-man roster (three if Quincy Miller's contract isn't picked up), I'd be surprised if Jokic isn't overseas for the next year or two.
All NBA statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
All college statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com
All international statistics courtesy of DraftExpress.com
All contract information is from Basketball Insiders
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