Five Potential Draft Day Targets For The Denver Nuggets


Currently, the Denver Nuggets sit at the number seven spot in the NBA’s “tankathon” — one game behind the Sacramento Kings. Let’s say there is no lottery drawing and the Nuggets are picking in the smack-dab middle of the lottery, at either the sixth or seventh position. Here are five potential targets Denver is sure to have on their minds when they are on the clock, come June 25th:

***These prospects were selected with the mindset that the Nuggets are picking on a “best player available” basis.

1) Justice Winslow – 6’6″ – 229 lbs, 19 years old – SF/SG – Duke

NBA Comparison: Kawhi Leonard/Jimmy Butler

Currently it’s 8:00 p.m. on a Monday night, just a day after Justice Winslow dropped a quiet 16 and five on Gonzaga, to help Duke advance to yet another Final Four. It wasn’t his best game by any means, but after Duke walked away with a 66-52 win over Gonzaga, many watching were left with the impressions that Winslow was the best player on the floor. Before last night, Winslow was on the outside looking in (out of the top five potential picks), but if he has another game or two in the Final Four, and then the National Championship Game (similar to the one he has tonight), he could definitely be that guy who sky rockets in the lottery as a result of the NCAA Tournament. Defensively, Winslow is a monster. Someone who, if he wants to, is going to harass you from baseline to baseline. He’s got the aggressiveness of a young Kawhi Leonard, but his offensive game is head and shoulders above where Leonard’s was in college, at San Diego State University. He’s dominated with 23 and 10 against a high-quality opponent in the Sweet Sixteen, and prior to that, he dropped 23 and nine against Syracuse, and 20-13 vs Clemson. His shot from the perimeter still needs work, but his mechanics and release are consistent, meaning he has the potential to develop a lethal stroke. He projects as a two-way player, whose blessed with incredible physical tools and a motor that doesn’t stop.

2) Devin Booker – 6’6″ – 205 lbs, 18 years old – SG – Kentucky

NBA Comparison: Klay Thompson

Most draft projections still have the sharpshooting Booker sitting outside the lottery, which is surprising and sure to change, the closer we get to draft time. The 18 year-old Booker has been an absolute joy to watch for Kentucky this year. He’s an extremely smart, heady, and intelligent player, who is silky smooth in the half-court and knows how to run his lane in transition. Just like Thompson, he doesn’t jump off the screen as an elite athlete, but he’s got picture-perfect form on his shot, and is in many scout’s opinions, Kentucky’s best perimeter player — and the best shooter by far in this draft. Not to mention, he’s just 18 and is among the youngest prospects in this class. He’s shooting 41-percent from three-point range on the year and is also more than capable of finishing at the rim. When Booker’s on the perimeter awaiting a pass or curling off a screen, he’s always got his hands ready and waiting to receive the ball — a skill that not many 18 year olds and college players have. What I love about Booker is that he’s got that natural feel for the game you simply can’t teach.

3) Willie Cauley-Stein – 7’0″ – 240 lbs, 21 years old – C – Kentucky

NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler

Cauley-Stein is a true defensive center, who has tremendous quickness, athletic and shot-blocking ability. He’s already 21 years-old, so his ceiling might be a tad lower than other lottery prospects, but he should be able to make a huge impact from day one. He can guard four (if not five) different positions, as we saw in Kentucky’s Elite Eight game against Notre Dame, when he defended Jerian Harvey from coast-to-coast on the potential game-winning shot. Cauley-Stein has had questions regarding his motor and desire to play hard in years past, but his play this season as (arguably) Kentucky’s most important player have put those to rest. He projects as a five-man who’s going to get all his buckets on dunks and layups around the rim. He’s excellent at rolling to the basket where he gets a lot of his buckets off of alley-oops, and he’s a great second jumper with incredible instincts for the ball, which allows him to rebound over his man.

4) Kevon Looney – 6’10” – 210 lbs, 19 years old – PF/SF – UCLA

NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom

Looney is a polarizing prospect, as some scouts see a point forward who has a tremendous feel for the game, is an excellent rebounder, and a plus athlete, while others view him as a tweener who has a questionable motor, a broken shot and will struggle with the physicality of the NBA. I fall in line with the former and absolutely agree that Looney is worthy of a lottery pick and he can be quality starter in this league. He has special rebounding instincts and a nose for the ball, as he nearly averaged a double-double and led the NCAA in that category for freshmen. He has more to his skill-set than he showed at UCLA, and with the recent success UCLA prospects have had in the NBA, Looney looks to be the next in line. Although he struggled shooting from the perimeter this season, he has good form, release, and rotation on his shot, which bodes well for his projection.


5) Stanley Johnson – 6’7″ – 237 lbs, 18 years old, SF- Arizona

NBA Comparison: Metta World Peace

Like Winslow, Johnson is an athletic small forward who’s defense is his calling card. He’s already got an NBA body and plays a physical style that will help him be productive in the league from day one. Johnson needs to work on his shot, but his mechanics look to be consistent, so the potential to improve is there. He’s a guy who loves to play defense, which is something NBA executives will be gushing over come draft time, although some think he left a little to be desired on that end of the floor this season. Johnson played on a stacked Arizona team this season with a lot of veteran players, but often in crunch time situations, the ball was in his hands, which shows the trust Sean Miller had that he would make the right play in big situations. Johnson has struggled a bit to finish at the rim durng his freshman year, something that has scouts a bit worried, but his defensive potential and tenacious demeanor make up for it. He projects as a lottery to mid-first-round pick.

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