Alex English is arguably the best player ever to wear a Denver Nuggets uniform. In ten seasons with the Nuggets, English averaged 26 points per game and posted eight straight seasons with 2,000 points or more. What may surprise many fans who didn’t have the privilege of watching English play in his hey day is that he was actually a second round draft pick — he was selected with the 23rd pick in 1976 by the Milwaukee Bucks (there were only 22 NBA teams back then).
The Denver Nuggets will be one of the busier teams when the 2014 NBA Draft rolls around. In addition to possessing the number 11 pick, the team also holds two second round picks at 41 and 56. While the likelihood of the Nuggets uncovering another player of English’s caliber in the draft’s second round is extremely low, that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent to be had with the later picks. Historically, the list of ballers drafted in the second round who built outstanding careers in the league contains some pretty impressive names. Look at this line-up and tell me you wouldn’t be thrilled if the Nuggs could find a player who might someday be mentioned in the same breath with these second-rounders:
- Manu Ginobili – 57th Pick in 1999
- Jeff Hornacek – 46th Pick in 1986
- Dennis Rodman – 27th Pick in 1986
- Carlos Boozer – 35th Pick in 2002
- Gilbert Arenas – 30th Pick in 2001
This year’s draft is being touted as one of the most talent-heavy group of prospects in years, so that means there will be players with borderline first-round talent who slip into the second round. Here’s a quick look at three players the Nuggets might consider in Round 2 who, on paper at least, have the potential to outshine some of their first-round counterparts:
- Russ Smith, PG, Louisville: What Smith lacks in size (accounts vary, but the consensus seems to be that he comes in around 6′ 1″, 160 pounds), he more than makes up for in speed and fearlessness. He provided the motor that made the Cardinals go, and during his career he led the team to three Sweet Sixteens, two Final Fours, and a National Championship in 2013. Last season, he averaged more than 18 points and nearly 5 assists per game, shooting better than 51% from the floor. Smith has proven himself to be an outstanding scorer and distributor, but he is even more impressive on the defensive end of the court. He is Louisville’s all-time leader in steals, and is considered by many scouts to be one of the best on-ball defenders in the NCAA. As luck would have it, perimeter defense is a huge need for the Nuggets.
- Patric Young, C, Florida: The 6′ 10″ Young is a physical specimen who looks like he was built in a laboratory to play in the NBA. He showed remarkable resiliency at Florida, never missing a game during his four years in Gainesville. His offensive game is still developing, but he is considered to be among the top defenders in college basketball. During his senior season, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and showed an uncanny knack for guarding just about anyone who entered his orbit. While it’s highly unlikely that Young will ever display the offensive ability required to be considered a well-rounded NBA big man, he has a set of tools that could help him become one of the top defensive bigs in the league.
- Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, Colorado: Dinwiddie is an intriguing 2-guard who played college ball in the Nuggets’ backyard. Although last season ended early for Dinwiddie when he went down with a torn ACL, he managed to impress a lot of scouts in the games in which he did appear. At 6′ 6″ and 205 pounds, he’s a big guard who has the size to excel in the NBA. Like a lot of shooting guards in this year’s draft class, he isn’t the best perimeter defender, but Dinwiddie is a dynamic offensive player who has a quick first step and can create shots off the dribble. If his knee is healthy, Dinwiddie might be the type of player who can make an impact for the Nuggets in two or three seasons, after benefitting greatly from serving as the understudy to a player like Randy Foye.
Do you think there is a potential second-rounder in this draft that might emerge as a star in the NBA? Share your thoughts in the comments below or get at me on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.