The Denver Nuggets’ best players in their franchise’s history have all come from their own draft selections. Carmelo Anthony, Nikola Jokić, Dikembe Mutombo, and others have all been drafted by the Denver Nuggets and considered Hall-of-Fame level players.
Back in the 2017 NBA Draft, though, the Denver Nuggets made a big mistake in trading away Donovan Mitchell to the Utah Jazz for forward Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon, who was selected later on in the draft. Denver is not perfect when it comes to drafting, no one is.
Looking at the most recent NBA Draft, the 2023 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets selected Julian Strawther in the first round, and Jalen Pickett and Hunter Tyson in the second round. Even though the NBA preseason has not even started, the draft picks look solid as of now. Hunter Tyson was a standout in the Summer League, Julian Strawther is one of the most NBA-ready prospects from the draft, and Jalen Pickett was amazing for Penn State.
The Denver Nuggets have had excellent draft pick after excellent draft pick for multiple years now, aside from a few. Their success in the NBA Draft is really what helped them be able to win the 2023 NBA Finals, and they look really good for next season, too.
Looking back at the 2014 NBA Draft, Nikola Jokić was a mystery. Nobody knew what kind of player he’d become, and nobody expected a player of his caliber to be able to win an MVP, let alone win two of them and a Finals MVP as well.
Also in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Nuggets had the 11th pick, who turned out to be Doug McDermott. They traded with the Chicago Bulls for the 16th pick, Jusuf Nurkić, and the 19th pick, Gary Harris. This was a good trade, as McDermott has been a role player at best in his career, while Gary Harris helped the Nuggets get Aaron Gordon in a trade a few seasons ago, and Nurkić has been a solid starter for many seasons in Portland.
As for the 2015 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets owned the 7th overall pick, who turned out to be Emmanuel Mudiay. This pick was bad, and Mudiay is no longer in the NBA. Devin Booker was only selected six picks after, while Myles Turner was selected four spots after. Having Devin Booker in Denver would’ve been amazing, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been a perfect fit anyway.
In the 2016 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets took Jamal Murray with the 7th pick. One thing to note is that the Nuggets had a pick swap from the Carmelo Anthony trade years prior, as they would’ve had the 9th pick if the swap wasn’t in place. It’s hard to say if Murray would’ve been a Nugget if not for the pick swap, but either way, Murray has been one of the best Nuggets for many seasons.
They also selected Juan Hernangómez 15th and Malik Beasley 19th. Hernangómez has not been much in the NBA, but Beasley has been a great player, considering where he was drafted. The Nuggets could have taken Pascal Siakam or Dejounte Murray, as both were selected near the end of the first round. But it’s hard to fault Denver, as no one really projected Siakam to be an All-NBA caliber player, and Murray had some off-court issues that made him slide in the draft.
As written above, the 2017 NBA Draft did not go too well for the Nuggets, looking back at it. Losing out on Donovan Mitchell and adding two players who are no longer on Denver’s roster in Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles does not look the best. With the 24th pick, who turned out to be Lydon, Denver could have selected Kyle Kuzma, Derrick White, or Josh Hart. All three of those players have had a better career than Lydon or Lyles.