The NBA Draft is just over a week away. I have put out a couple of my own theories in what I think the Denver Nuggets should do with the #11 pick (draft Nik Stauskas or trade it for Ben McLemore). The homework assignment I gave myself was to look up what some other folks were predicting. Folks who have more access, more inside information, and more knowledge than myself. I share with you my findings from three different sources in regards to who Denver will select with the #11 pick on Thursday, June 26th. You will notice only one name is mentioned twice (Gary Harris). The only name on the list that I disagree with is Zach Lavine. Everything about him just screams JaVale McGee-like experiment.
P.J. Hairston, SG, D-League: I could not cut and copy from the magazine, so here is my take. The article puts on a focus on Hairston playing basketball against NBA sized bodies in the D-League versus mainly still-growing athletes in college. When I first started watching the Las Vegas Summer League, and it’s D-League format, I received the following warning. One does not watch these games to see who is ready for the NBA, one watches the Summer League games to see who is NOT ready for the NBA.
Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State: Harris didn’t measure well at the NBA Draft combine, and that surely matters to some franchises. But he’s still an elite high school player who was also an elite college player, and prospects who fit that description tend to turn into relevant NBA players way more often than not.
Dario Saric, SF, Croatia: It’s hard to figure out where Saric fits into this draft. He’s assumed to be a definite lottery player, but he doesn’t have any overwhelming skills or a definite position to place him at a need for a team. The Nuggets currently have a few tweener forwards on the roster, but they could always move one in an effort to find a big man Brian Shaw needs, and then put Saric next to him for a big frontcourt. That’s assuming the Nuggets keep the pick.
Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State: They’re probably trading his pick, to be honest. But even with Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson, I just think this is a better fit for what they want to do than Saric.
Denver Post writer Chris Dempsey recently posted his top 5 from the athletes the Denver Nuggets have recently worked out:
Rodney Hood, SF, 6-7, 208, Duke: Hood has tantalizing size for his position and knows how to use it on the offensive end. He was deadly in pick-and-roll situations as the ball-handler. In fact, Hood was one of the primary ball-handlers and decision-makers on Duke’s team. Defensively, Hood was average. The first thing that jumps out of film study is an overall lack of urgency in getting out to the offensive player.
Gary Harris, SG, 6-3, 205, Michigan State: Harris was primarily used as a spot-up shooter, as he was regularly run off of screens to open him up, and he hit 35 percent from 3-point range. Harris was most comfortable in catch-and-shoot and in screen/roll situations. He did not show a scary ability to take his man off of the dribble in isolation situations, and would take the midrange shot on drives more often than going all the way to the basket. Defensively, Harris’ reputation is as perhaps the best perimeter defender in the draft, and it’s well deserved.
Tyler Ennis, PG, 6-1, 182, Syracuse: He’s one of the best point guards in the draft, with poise and play-making being his best strengths, and a ceiling that suggests with hard work in a few years he can become one of the best point guards in the NBA. Defense is Ennis’s biggest question mark, like all players who play at Syracuse, which runs a 2-3 zone defense the majority of the time. Ennis had just one possession of man-to-man defense the entire season.
Zach LaVine, SG, 6-5, 181, UCLA: His athleticism ranks among the top in the entire draft, and in a highlight-reel dunking display late in the draft workout, LaVine showed off his max 41.5-inch vertical. LaVine is a deadly catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, and that — combined with transition finishes — is how he did much of his business scoring the basketball for the Bruins. He’ll have to improve his pull-up jump shot, which is erratic right now. And though he can drive to the rim with ease because of his quickness, when he gets there he struggles to finish though contact. Though he played for a defensive-minded coach in Steve Alford, LaVine definitely has to improve his aggressiveness and willingness to commit to playing hard on that end.
James Young, SF, 6-5, 213, Kentucky: In my own words, he seems to be dynamite with his left hand and gets exposed when forced to shot with right hand. Now back to Mr. Dempsey: defensively, Young was a mixed bag. It was easy tell he was a freshman with mistakes like losing his man or not closing out properly or picking up cheap fouls, but he did compete.