It’s much easier to remember the Denver Nuggets worst drafts than their best ones, because there were so many. Here are five forgettable ones:
1996 DRAFT: Traded Jalen Rose, Reggie Williams, 10th pick (Erick Dampier) for Mark Jackson, Ricky Pierce and 23rd pick (Efthimi Rentzias). Drafted Jeff McInnis with the 37th pick.
In what many may consider the best draft in NBA history (which featured star talent in Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Ray Allen to name a few), the Nuggets decided to not only deal one of their more-talented players (Rose) but to trade out of the lottery and for two over-the-hill guards, Jackson (who was 31) and Pierce (37). Of course Denver decided to deal Jackson back to Indiana at the trade deadline for scraps (Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson and two second round picks). But the kicker was drafting Rentzias, who was rumored at the time of the draft as the first Dirk Nowitzki. What he turned out to be was a 6-foot-11 scrub who played one season in the NBA. And considering the Nuggets could have walked away with Nash or Bryant to team up with Rose and Antonio McDyess. McInnis may have been the best thing to come out of the draft, but the Nuggets cut him before the start of the season.
1997 Draft: Drafted Tony Battie (5th pick), traded for Danny Fortson (10th), Bobby Jackson (23rd) and Eric Washington (46th).
This draft wasn’t terrible, per se, but it wasn’t as good as it could be. The worst was definitely Battie (also known as ‘El Busto’). Battie is still playing in the NBA 15 years later, but he has never been a star performer and has never averaged more than 10 points a game. Not exactly the pick you want to build your team around, especially when a young star by the name of Tracy McGrady was drafted two picks later.
Fortson was a big body that the Nuggets desperately needed. He even averaged a double-double during the 1998 season (11 points, 11.6 rebounds), but he was also dealt for Ervin Johnson – who was one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. The year prior Johnson was third in the NBA in blocks and second in rebounds.
Jackson was one of the better players to come out of the draft and was one of the few bright spots for the Nuggets in 1997. He averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 assists and started 53 games for the Nuggets. However, he was dealt the following season with Dean Garrett and the Nuggets’ 1999 draft pick for Chauncey Billups.
Washington started opening day for the Nuggets and averaged 12 points during his rookie season. But he only lasted two years in the NBA.
1980 DRAFT: Drafted James Ray with the 5th pick.
There aren’t many players from the 1980 draft that had as bad of a career as Ray. He lasted three seasons in the NBA and never averaged more than four points a game. He was suppose to be a 6-foot-9 dominating scorer for the Nuggets after leading Jacksonville University to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, he left the NBA in 1983 for Europe and never returned. Kiki Vandeweghe was drafted with the 11th pick in the same draft.
2004 DRAFT and 2005 DRAFT: Traded Jameer Nelson and Jarrett Jack for Linas Kleiza, Julius Hodge and Ricky Sanchez.
Nelson and Jack have combined to play 1,059 games in the NBA, Kleiza, Hodge and Sanchez played 411. Jack and Nelson are both starting point guards in the NBA, while Kleiza is a backup small forward and Hodge and Sanchez are out of the NBA. In fact, Sanchez has never played in the NBA. Of course Denver didn’t need a point guard at the time, but they did need a shooter and Hodge was not that. What makes the drafts even worst is Denver could have had Kevin Martin (26th) and Anderson Varejao (30th) in the 2004 Draft or David Lee (30th), Ersan Ilyasova (36th), Monta Ellis (40th), Lou Williams (45th) and Marcin Gortat (57th) in the 2005 Draft.
Some may consider the 2002 Draft, mainly due to the selection of Nikoloz Tskitishvili but the Nuggets also acquired Marcus Camby and Nene in that draft.
Topics: Allen Iverson, Anderson Varejao, Bobby Jackson, Chauncey Billups, Danny Fortson, David Lee, Dean Garrett, Denver Nuggets, Eddie Johnson, Efthimi Rentzias, Eric Washington, Erick Dampier, Ersan Ilyasova, Jalen Rose, Jameer Nelson, James Ray, Jarrett Jack, Jeff McInnis, Julius Hodge, Kevin Martin, Kobe Bryant, Linas Kleiza, Lou Williams, Marcin Gortat, Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson, Monta Ellis, Nene, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Ray Allen, Reggie Williams, Ricky Pierce, Ricky Sanchez, Steve Nash, Tony Battie, Tracy McGrady, Vincent Askew