Reaction to latest NBA mock draft: Nuggets finally get serviceable Jokic backup

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

Most Nuggets fans are likely locked into the chase for the one seed, the ensuing playoff run, and hopefully, the title defense that will follow. Gone are the days of scouring mock drafts and trying to find the next wave of talent. For Denver, the time is now.

But that can’t be the mindset for Calvin Booth and the front office, of course. The roster is only getting older and more expensive and it won’t be tenable forever. Under the new CBA, rookie contracts are even more valuable and it’s paramount that the Nuggets are able to patch some holes with draft picks in the upcoming years.

Recent draft success

They may have found some of those guys in recent years with the likes of Peyton Watson, Christian Braun, and Julian Strawther. Watson and Braun have shown the ability to make an impact and will be called upon in the playoffs this season. Strawther is just a rookie and there’s plenty of optimism that he’ll become a rotation player.

Upcoming expenses

Aaron Gordon, Jamal Murray, and Kevntavious Caldwell-Pope will be up for new contracts in the next year or two and there’s a chance there may be some casualties. The team could get too expensive, at which point Denver will need even more contributions from young players on cheap contracts.

So it may not seem like it now, but the Nuggets’ 2024 first-round draft pick is an important asset that they must use wisely. It will almost certainly be one of the last five picks in the first round, but the Nugs are used to that, as Braun (21), Watson (30), and Strawther (29) were all late first-round finds.

Plugging a hole

The one position Denver has had a hard time addressing the past few seasons is backup center behind Nikola Jokic. Part of this is just logically using assets, as the opportunity behind Jokic is scarce. But they do need to do something to clean up those few minutes, especially over the course of the regular season.

Ringer mock draft

In the latest mock draft from Kevin O’Connor, of the Ringer, he has the Nuggets taking Daron Holmes II, a 6’9” center from Dayton with a 7’1” wingspan. In 32 games this season, the 21-year-old Junior is putting up 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game.

Breaking down the pick

Holmes has the athleticism to move around and switch on defense, while also possessing the size to protect the rim. On offense he can set screens and finish above the rim, but has also greatly improved his outside game, hitting 38.5% of his threes this season.

It obviously remains to be seen if this will translate from the Atlantic-10 to the NBA, but in theory, Holmes checks a lot of boxes for some bench center minutes, and profiles as a guy who could possibly even play some minutes alongside the Joker someday.