Draft Report: Denver Nuggets Strike Gold in 1st Round


The Nuggets entered Thursday's draft with five picks, including three first rounders, and a roster already full of young prospects. Speculation abounded around whether they'd make a splashy trade using those picks and/or Danilo Gallinari or Kenneth Faried. If they kept the picks, how many would be stashed overseas? We got our answers tonight and, at least for the time being, no trades were made. Here's a breakdown of Denver's 2016 draft picks.

First Round

#7 - Jamal Murray 

For the second straight year the Nuggets drew the seventh pick in the Lottery. And for the second straight year, a super talented prospect fell to them, somewhat unexpectedly. Last year it was point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. This year it may be Mudiay's backcourt mate of the future, the 6'5", 200-pound Murray. I love this pick for Denver. Although they already have a young starting 2-guard in Gary Harris, who broke out last year and is set to train with the Olympic team next month, the Nuggets desperately needed more shooting. Murray has a beautiful jump shot and scored 20 points per game in his freshman season at Kentucky. He likely slid to seven due to his lack of elite athleticism, but Murray is the kind of player that has a natural ability to put the ball in the basket. With his handle and feel for the game, look for Murray to run point with the second unit this season.

 

#15 - Juan Hernangomez

The 20-year old Hernangomez almost certainly will be stashed overseas, where he's played exceptionally well in Spain's top basketball league, ACB. He's a textbook combo forward at 6'9" who can dribble, shoot, finish and rebound. He'll need to fill out a bit more, which will help with his lackluster post defense. He also needs to work on lateral quickness to defend threes at the next level. He may end up being the second best international player in this draft with the right development as his litany of skills project him to become a valuable role player.

 

#19 - Malik Beasley

Beasley was one of my top sleepers entering this draft. His selection creates quite the logjam at the 2-guard, but adds another shooter to the Nuggets' mix of wings. Beasley came out of nowhere with a monster freshman season at Florida State and would have gone higher if not for a stress fracture in his leg that was recently repaired. Beasley said tonight that he is back to running full speed and will be ready for training camp. At just 19 he is a bit of a project, but is a high character guy that will bring maximum effort. He was super efficient and had just four games in which he failed to tally double-digit points. In addition to his smooth shooting stroke, Beasley loves to run the floor and plays well above the rim at 6'5".

 

Second Round

#53 - Petr Cornelie

A 20-year-old Frenchman who will remain overseas for the foreseeable future. He's a nice investment, as a 6'11" power forward who shot over 40 percent from three last season. Cornelie is another guy that needs to fill out his wiry frame, but he has all the tools to be an NBA stretch four with some more seasoning in Europe.

#56 - Daniel Hamilton (traded to OKC for cash considerations)

The Nuggets didn't need another rookie, and who doesn't like a little extra walking around money?

Updated Roster - Denver is stacked two or three deep at every position, with quality and youth. They are really showing signs of resurgence, but how long will it take to truly compete in the West? Is there still a trade left to be made to get that elusive star player to the Mile High City? GM Tim Connelly has done a remarkable job in a short time turning this team's future around. Michael Malone has some good problems on his hands, as he figures out how to shape this precocious team.

Starters

PG - Emmanuel Mudiay (future face of the franchise?)

SG - Gary Harris (starter for now, though could be traded with Murray nipping at his heels)

SF - Danilo Gallinari (another trade piece, when healthy he's their best player)

PF - Kenneth Faried (likely to be moved before the season begins)

C - Nikola Jokic (up-and-coming stud)

Bench

PG/SG - Jamal Murray (R)

SG - Malik Beasley (R)

SG/SF - Will Barton (Will the Thrill is electric off the bench)

SF/PF - Wilson Chandler (Can he put together a healthy season?)

C - Jusuf Nurkic (Needs to stay healthy and regain Malone's trust)

C - Joffrey Lauvergne (Solid third center)

Free Agents

PG - DJ Augustine (likely signing elsewhere)

PG - Jameer Nelson (likely gone)

PF - Darrell Arthur (loves Denver, they may try to sign him into cap space after he opts out)

SF - Mike Miller (may retire, won't be back in Denver)

Fighting for roster spot

SF - Axel Toupane (non-guaranteed, Summer League will be important)

SF - JaKarr Sampson (ditto)

Overseas

SF/PF - Juan Hernangomez (R) (will be stashed unless Gallo, Chandler and/or Faried traded)

PF - Petr Cornelie (R)

G - Nikola Radicevic (2015 second rounder; won't be brought over this year)

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