Unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers, luck did not go the Denver Nuggets way last week in the 2014 NBA draft lottery. Denver didn’t end up with a top three selection and is slotted at number eleven, in this year’s draft. In my opinion, the Nuggets could use a shooting guard and as much of a believer as I am in Evan Fournier, it’s a hole they should look to fill. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be any starting caliber two guards left for Denver to select at pick eleven. While I think Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas and even Zach LaVine, all will be solid players and would even fit well here in Denver. They all have some significant red flags to be considered and there’s a case to be made that none of them are worth taking at eleven. Harris is somewhat undersized for an NBA two and also has some problems creating his own offense, Stauskas has the size and shooting touch but could be a defensive liability and LaVine is every bit of a project player as any prospect in this draft. That is why I think the Nuggets should look to move up a couple of spots and target Marcus Smart of Oklahoma St.
Smart had a stellar sophomore season for the Cowboys, averaging 18.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Smart is a extremely well rounded player who would be a welcome addition to the Nuggets backcourt, teaming up with Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson. Most people project Smart to be a point guard at the next level but, I like him better as a slasher at the shooting guard spot, given his size and strength. At 6’4″ and 225 lbs with a 6’8″ wingspan, Smart is a handful for any guard to deal with on both ends of the floor and is extremely skillful to boot. He can do anything on the defensive end of the floor, guarding positions 1-4 and does a great job of getting into passing lanes causing steals. He would give Brian Shaw a much needed perimeter defender to utilize and a feisty competitor, to help induce some energy into the locker room. Smart is also a terrific rebounder for his size and knows positioning well, he also does a good job of attacking the rim on the offensive end of the floor. Smart almost welcomes contact at the rim, while doing a good job of consistently finishing threw it or getting to the free throw line and is also a great teammate. He is a very skillful passer, who alongside Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Evan Fournier, Nate Robinson and Randy Foye, would help make Denver become one of the better passing teams in the league.
Smart does need to improve his shot, his mechanics are pretty poor and he struggles to consistently make shots from the perimeter. He shot only 30% from the three point line last season at Oklahoma St, while shooting an even worse 20% from beyond the arc in his freshman season. I think shooting though, is obivously a skill you can develop and even though Smart looks pretty uncomfortable shooting a jumpshot, with time I think he can develop a perimeter game. There is also some off the court concerns with Smart but, I think most of them have been overblown by the media and really won’t be a issue here in Denver or with any other NBA team. Smart is the type of guy I think Brian Shaw wants in his locker room and would give the Nuggets a bulldozing backcourt, featuring himself and Ty Lawson.
The Nuggets will probably have to trade up from pick number eleven to get Smart, seeing as he shouldn’t fall out of the top ten. I think he would be well worth a trade for the Nuggets and a great addition to the team, adding some life to the Denver defense that they desperately need next season. Smart reminds me somewhat of Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade and Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, playing with the same kind of toughness that both of those players showcase on a nightly basis in the NBA. He would bring a much needed competitiveness to this team, as well as a physical presence that I think Coach Shaw wants all of his players to eventually play with. I think Marcus Smart makes sense for Denver and I hope to see the Nuggets make a play for the Oklahoma St. star, come late June.