Feb 19, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Mexico Lobos forward Cameron Bairstow (41) moves the ball past UNLV Runnin

2014 NBA Mock Draft: Can Cameron Bairstow Find a Place on the Denver Nuggets Roster?

Cameron Bairstow isn’t one of the best known names in the 2014 NBA Draft. In fact, most casual basketball fans likely have never even heard of him. He’s a 6′ 10″ power forward/center who played four seasons for the University of New Mexico Lobos, and is currently rated by Draft Express as one of the top 100 NBA prospects for 2014, though he just barely snuck in at number 94. While he’s not the type of player who is going to set the world on fire if he gets a shot in the league, he is the kind of big man that always intrigues me, especially when thinking about whether or not there’s a role for him on this Nuggets roster.

Originally from Birsbane, Australia, Bairstow is a big, physical power forward who has a soft touch around the basket, a jumper that looks a bit unorthodox but is money from mid-range, and the strength and motor that makes him a headache to play against. During his final season at New Mexico, Bairstow finished in the top 20 in the nation in points, scoring average, and free throws. Scouts often compare Bairstow’s game to that of Luis Scola, in that the two are both space-eaters who can body-up on opponents and wear them down, forcing their match-ups to work on both ends of the court, and earn every point and rebound during the course of a game.

At a recent workout in Las Vegas, Bairstow displayed the fundamentals that made him one of the most consistent scorers in college basketball last season:



As you can see from the video, he’s a little heavy-footed and will never be confused with the fastest players on the court. At first glance, he doesn’t seem like a natural fit for the up-tempo style of basketball for which the Nuggets are famous. But keep in mind that Head Coach Brian Shaw seems intent on moving away from the run-and-gun style of play that defined the Nuggets for much of the George Karl-era, opting instead to move toward a slower tempo game that emphasizes a more balanced half court approach. While Bairstow probably wouldn’t thrive in the transition game, his style is ideal for the more deliberate half court sets.

More importantly, did you notice his touch from mid-range? That’s why this kid is so intriguing. Those are the kind of shots that are ALWAYS open in the NBA for guys his size. If Bairstow can come off the bench for 12 to 14 minutes a game, put a body on the opposing team’s starters and sap some of their energy by making them work on every single possession, and contribute 8 to 10 points a night through a combination of open 15-footers and put-backs, I guarantee he will find work in the NBA for the next decade.

With the Nuggets’ roster already heavy with bigs, I’m not sold on the idea of adding another power forward, especially one whose ceiling probably means he’ll be a career back-up at best. But Cameron Bairstow’s skill set is something we haven’t seen a lot of in Denver recently, and given the depth of most of the championship contenders in the Western Conference, it might make sense to add a player like him to the rotation.

What do you think, Nuggets fans? Do we need a player like Bairstow on the roster or do you think guys like him are a dime a dozen in the league? Share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.






Tags: 2014 NBA Draft Cameron Bairstow Denver Nuggets Luis Scola Nba NBA Draft New Mexico Lobos

  • Brandon Erickson

    I’m a nuggets fan but also from New Mexico and have watched this guy over the last 4 years. I could see this as a great fit for the nuggets. Bairstow is a guy who was recruited by nobody coming out of high school. He ended up here because we had one spot to fill and we were getting his best friend Greenwood the next year. He is 100% self made. In college, he was known for after the game, going into the weight room and lifting before the press conference. The nuggets have always beaten teams by sending waves of talent and speed. I truly believe that the game is won off the court during workouts and preparation. This is the guy that can help change the tide in that respect. As far as comparing him to a current player, i like the Scola reference but I would say more David West. Consistent mid range jump shot that has the ability to be streched to 20ft, great post moves, and at 250 lbs nobody is going to move him.

  • Dre

    Not to mention he played in front of 15,000+ rabid Lobo fans every night at UNM. Literally every night that place is sold out and loud as all hell

  • Art Fugue

    “he leaves New Mexico with the third most points and fifth best scoring average in school history”

    These numbers are both incorrect. His 694 points were the fourth best season total in school history; his career point total is 21st. His 20.4 points per game is the 10th best season average in Lobo history;. his career average is not in the top 20. He did have one of the top single season improvements in Lobo history, the first player to average less than ten points one year and over twenty the next.

    Bairstow’s work ethic should impress any NBA team and would certainly be welcome to Nuggets fans.