Can the Nuggets get lucky at No. 13 in the NBA draft?
Kiz: Although Tim Connelly has a fancy new title as president of basketball operations with the Nuggets, he is a scout at heart, and will gladly tell anybody that’s the part of job that gives him the most satisfaction. Discovering young talent is what Connelly does best. Denver got lucky at No. 7 with Jamal Murray in last year’s draft. What player would you like to see fall to the Nuggets at No. 13 on Thursday night?
Kosmider: The Nuggets desperately need a strong defensive presence in the frontcourt to pair with rising star Nikola Jokic, around whom this franchise is building its future. The perfect player to fit that role in this draft: Jonathan Isaac of Florida State. At 6-foot-11, Isaac has the versatility that allows him to disrupt the pick-and-roll while also being able to defend the rim, two areas Denver struggles with mightily. The problem? Isaac likely won’t be around at No. 13. It would take a trade to jump up and grab him.
Kiz: Mock drafts are fun, but if you study a decent sample size, maybe mock drafts are most useful in projecting the earliest and the latest a player will be selected. My dream scenario for the Nuggets at No. 13 is Zach Collins, the Gonzaga freshman that was the best NBA prospect I saw at the Final Four. Collins will probably go off the board somewhere between the 10th and 12th picks in the first round. But I think there’s a 25 percent chance he drops to the Nuggets.
Kosmider: Collins averaged four blocks per 40 minutes last season. The average number of blocked shots for the Nuggets per game last season was 3.9. Denver needs a rim protector and I agree that Collins could fill that role. However, the Nuggets have said they don’t expect whoever they pick at No. 13 to be an immediate contributor. So Connelly, new GM Arturas Karnisovas and Co. may take a chance on a player who screams upside. Two names to watch: John Collins of Wake Forest and OG Anunoby of Indiana.
Kiz: By trading Jusuf Nurkic to Portland for Mason Plumlee, the Nuggets messed up their chance to make the playoffs. But Connelly insists Plumlee is a big part of the team’s future, and seems willing to spend big money to retain him as a free agent. Here’s the rub: Collins plays the same position as Plumlee. If Collins is on the board at No. 13, I can only hope the Nuggets would not pass on him.
Kosmider: We know what wins in the NBA. You have to be able to shoot the basketball from long range. The Warriors have two shiny rings to prove it. The best shooter in the Nuggets’ draft range is Luke Kennard of Duke, who shot 44 percent from 3-point land last season. We know the Nuggets are desperate for defense, but they’ve also said they won’t be tied to that requirement when evaluating players. Maybe a bomber off the bench is just what this team needs, particularly if it loses forward Danilo Gallinari to free agency.