Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Can I Help You? Denver Nuggets

Gallinari could morph into a star.
The Nuggets are a very talented team. They received a bunch of pieces in the Carmello Anthony trade which morphed into a single unit playing as one. The transition that Denver made is impressive, but they're not quite at the level of title contender. Their biggest need is a superstar. Maybe Danilo Gallinari will become that. Regardless, with three draft picks, they'll be looking to add more cogs to their well oiled machine.

Denver has three free agents leaving. One is Andre Miller. The backup point guard was very good in spelling Ty Lawson and playing as more of a true PG, but he may want more money or a bigger role. I have a feeling that he won't return to the Nuggets. Rudy Fernandez was decent coming off the bench, but the team is crowded at the wing, so he's doubtful to come back. Finally, Javale McGee is a restricted free agent. Denver traded away Nene for McGee to get younger at center, so there's no reason he won't be back with the team.

Not many teams can say that backup point guard is one of their top needs, but it is for the Nuggets. Lawson and Miller complimented each other so well, and it's important for the team to not miss a beat at that position. That will likely be addressed later in the draft. Denver has a plethora of wing players to occupy both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Aaron Afflalo and Gallinari are the starters. Corey Brewer was a nice spark plug off the bench. Jordon Hamilton was a first rounder last season. Wilson Chandler was welcomed with open arms after his return from overseas. And Al Harrington had one of his best years last season, and can play both forward spots.

Harrington can play PF too, but the consensus is that the team needs more frontcourt help after McGee and Kenneth Faried. Faried is a high energy player and had a solid rookie year, but his offensive ability (like McGee's) is limited. Kosta Koufos, Timofey Mozgov, and Chris Anderson are all expendable.

The team is looking for a backup PG and depth at both the power forward and center positions. They pick 20th, 38th, and 50th. Let's begin, shall we?

I fully expect the team to take a big man at #20. The kind of point guard they're looking for is going to be there later in the draft. Also, it's worth noting that the two centers who will be around at this point of the draft are Fab Melo and Festus Ezeli. Neither have much offensive ability and wouldn't fit well with this team. Unless Tyler Zeller somehow drops here, the Nuggets should go power forward.

There's a bunch of questions about some of the PF's here. Is Terrence Jones big enough to play that spot? Is it possible that someone like Perry Jones or Arnett Moultrie could slip this far? Is it worth reaching on a big like Drew Gordon or Mike Scott?

Sullinger bring offense on the block.
Those are all questions that likely don't result in positive answer for Denver. That being said, I see two options here: Jared Sullinger and Andrew Nicholson.

Sullinger is a very skilled big down low. His post moves are physical and dominant and he has improved his jump shot as well. There are questions about his physical tools and lack of potential, but if Sully drops to #20, the Nuggets would be glad to scoop him up. Many think he won't, but I haven't come across too many teams yet who really want Sullinger, so he's the pick here if he's available.

Nicholson is a different kind of beast. His face up post game and crafty moves around the basket are how he scores. He can even stretch the floor and shoot threes. He doesn't have as much bulk as Sullinger, but he should be drafted by Denver if the Ohio St. PF is taken.

Denver may wind up reaching on Nicholson, as well as these next two picks, but they're going to get their guys, and there's nothing wrong with that. With pick #38, the team should go out and snatch Iona's Scott Machado. Machado has been mocked all over the second round, so the Nuggets won't want to take their chances and wait for him at #50. Machado may be the best pure point guard in the draft besides Kendall Marshall. He is stellar at running the offense and has amazing court vision. He'll fit well with a scorer like Lawson, both by complimenting him and being a change of pace guard.

Gates is literally a monster down low.
Now, with the 50th pick, the team will want to draft an offensive center to split time with McGee. Robert Sacre, Henry Sims, and Justin Hamilton aren't overly skilled on that side of the ball, and would't really be the best fits here. Instead, let's enter Cincinnati's Yancy Gates.

Gates weighs nearly 300 pounds, so despite his lack of size (6'9" for a center), he'll be a load in the post. He does need to get tougher, but Denver will like his skills with the ball. He has a soft touch around the rim and can also consistently hit mid range jumpers. If he works hard on his game, Gates could become a very dynamic scoring big man in the pros.

Denver gets just what they need by grabbing Sullinger, Machado, and Gates. That gives them a starting five of Lawson, Afflalo, Gallinari, Faried, and McGee, and a bench of Machado, Hamilton, Chandler, Brewer, Harrington, Sullinger, and Gates. Once again, this team has an enormous amount of depth, something that they could use for trade bait if they try to acquire a superstar.

In my next segment, I will discuss not only the draft of the Boston Celtics, but what they should do with their current players and free agents.

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