Welp...that was anticlimactic.
Yesterday's NBA Draft Lottery went full-on chalk, with the 76ers getting the No. 1 overall pick - giving birth to Dikembe Truthers! - and Los Angeles keeping their pick after much hand-wringing in Lakerland. It was at least fun to see Mitch Kupchak squirm a bit when reminded during his intro that the Lakers stood to lose their pick if it wasn't top three. Meanwhile Boston landed the third pick, courtesy of Brooklyn.
With no surprises in the top three, everyone else fell in line as the odds suggested they would. And once again the Nuggets didn't move up. Denver has now been through 14 draft Lotteries without ever moving up. They've moved down eight times, but have yet to receive any love from the ping-pong ball gods. For the second straight year, the Nugs will have the seventh pick of the NBA Draft. Last year, that number yielded Emmanuel Mudiay, the team's point guard of the future. Could seven be their lucky number again?
Perhaps, although this year's draft is not nearly as deep as 2015, and there's a decent chance they package it with one of their other two first rounders (No. 15 and No. 19) in a trade. GM Tim Connelly has shown savvy in draft day trades, as he was able to acquire Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris from Chicago for Doug McDermott in 2014. It may take all three first-rounders to convince a team to trade down, but if there's a chance to get a Buddy Hield at five or six, the Nuggets have to explore it. They don't need three rookies added to this roster in a year in which they're expecting to push for the playoffs. They already have 11 or 12 guys under contract (depending on how non-guarantees shake out). So it makes sense to turn three good cards into one great one if they can get a team to bite. If they do keep all their picks, expect them to draft and stash at least one international player, a strategy they've recently perfected (see: Jokic, Nikola).
The Nuggets' glaring need is outside shooting. If unable to nab Hield or Jamal Murray, I prefer they take Timothe Luwawu, the explosive 6'7" wing out of France that brings ball handling and shooting chops. He'd provide instant depth at the three behind Danilo Gallinari (assuming he's back) and could make a big impact playing in lineups with great passers in Mudiay and Jokic. He'll fit right in with the Nuggets' globally-sourced locker room, including Axel Toupane and Joffrey Lauvergne already repping France.
Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz seems like a tailor-made Connelly draft pick. His size is enticing, similar to Klay Thompson at 6'7" and supposedly is a knockdown shooter. Also, great freakin name.
At the end of the day there wasn't much to get excited about, but given their Lottery history, at least the Nuggets didn't move down. Plus, they were able to exercise the pick swap with the Knicks, cashing in again on the Carmelo Anthony trade. Knicks schadenfreude is some of the best you can find.
The actual draft should offer much more drama than the Lottery ultimately did, with three first-rounders burning a hole in Connelly's pocket. Let's see if this front office can continue its hot streak in June.