After a hectic few minutes which saw Denver draft Doug McDermott, only to trade him away to the Bulls, the Nuggets made their mark on the 2014 NBA draft by drafting Bosnian Center Jusuf Nurkic. I predicted the Nuggets should draft this guy in my “How the Nuggets can get back to the playoffs” article because he has size, strength, and tenacity, something the Nuggets’ front line was lacking. He is also what can be called a “Brian Shaw Center” meaning he doesn’t jump 20 feet in the air, but he can bruise and body his way to getting his points and rebounds, and can be used when the Nuggets want to slow the play down.
When the pick was made, a lot of Nugget fans were questioning the decision, because they weren’t going after the biggest name, rather a guy that they believed fit the system the best, even though he was a relative unknown entering the draft. Nuggets fans need not panic, this guy is good. He’s a bit of a throw back Center in a sense where he earns his points and rebounds, fights for every possession, gets back and plays defense and isn’t afraid of contact. That’s exactly what the Nuggets needed. A no nonsense, let’s get in and get the job done Center that can go to work.
On a team that has some of the better athletes in the game, the Nurkic pick makes sense because he can be the guy to get the defensive board, get the outlet pass to Lawson, and get the play going right off the bat. If the Nuggets need to go half-court offense and they are facing a team with a smaller front line, then they could give the ball to Nurkic and let him bang down low and scrap two tough points. There are many positives to this pick, so expect Nurkic to come off the bench to start the season. But don’t be surprised if by the All-Star break Brian Shaw puts the Bosnian Beast in the starting lineup.