Stiffs writers join together to predict what the Nuggets may do on draft day!
Do you expect the Nuggets to use both of their first round picks or do you think one or both of them will be moved?
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): I would be surprised if the Nuggets used both of their first round picks and I expect one of them to get moved. I’d be even more surprised if the Nuggets moved both of them and didn’t make any selections on Thursday night though. The most likely scenario feels like the Nuggets either package 21 or 30 with a player like Will Barton or Monte Morris to acquire an established NBA player who can help them compete for a championship next season.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): I do not. I expect them to use one and trade one. You want the one rookie-scale deal for a late-first-rounder who can contribute – that helps your salary structure. Two rookies from that part of the draft would not be ideal for Denver, however. They need veteran help now as well, and to restructure parts of the roster (specifically wing defense) and do not want to lean on a rookie for big playoff minutes. So one pick for the Nuggets, and one traded to someone else to address other issues.
Peter Leensvaart (@petetpizza27): I believe that one pick will be moved and that the front office will use one pick. With Bones Hyland being such an impactful player in his rookie season, I feel that the Nuggets recognize how much one rookie can change their trajectory. Rookie classes over the last 5 years have been swarming with talent, including many second-rounders or late first-rounders who end up being very productive for their teams. Robert Williams, Anfernee Simons, Jordan Poole, and Desmond Bane were all selected after pick 21. Other teams will also likely be lining up to take one pick off the Nuggets hands, if Denver plays this right this could be an amazing draft.
Asher Levy (@asherlevynba): I think the best outcome for the Nuggets is using one pick and trading the other with a player for an upgrade at the wing. Whether it be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, or another wing — the Nuggets need wing presence. Seeing them get a cheap contributor for four years and a veteran for the now would be a good draft in my book. Look for the Nuggets to get a MarJon Beauchamp, Wendell Moore Jr., Daley Terry, or other wing defender with one pick and a move to be made with the other.
Which player on the Nuggets roster is the most likely to be traded on draft day?
Ewing: As tough as it is for me to say it, I think Monte Morris is the most likely to get dealt on draft day. Will Barton is the more obvious answer considering he’s on an expiring deal and the Nuggets can attach one of their first round picks with him, but I think Morris is going to fetch way more value and will be more expendable because of that.
Morris showed what he could do as a starting point guard in this league with his play last season and some team around the league is going to covet that. Morris still has two years left on his deal and his over $9 million deal for next season feels a little steep for a backup point guard. The Nuggets can either acquire another player or use Morris to move up in the draft and target someone high on their board. We all saw what Bones Hyland could do last season and I expect his role to increase even more next year, which sadly makes Mr. Nugget someone who may be on the move.
Gross: Will Barton, unfortunately. He’s on an expiring, it is worth $14+ million and so Denver can get back a pricier piece in return, and Barton is still a rotation player so it’s not a salary dump. Monte Morris is the other player that may go, because he is a very valuable piece on a dream contract and quality point guard play can always return value. Bones Hyland may need to be on-ball as Denver’s backup point guard, and while that’s a risk, there have to be risks taken to climb that mountain to a title. Morris is a great Nugget, and Barton has been here for this whole era, but unfortunately those are the breaks. The injuries that cut short Denver’s last couple of playoff runs caught up with this iteration of the roster. I would say Barton is almost certain to go this offseason while for Morris, it just depends on the deal. But if Denver is trading a first rounder, one of them is likely leaving the Nuggets on Thursday.
Leensvaart: Will Barton, he is on a very tradeable contract and he would be the easiest to get fair value in return. Many teams could also view Thrill as an asset who could help them get to the next level. The Nuggets also need to upgrade their perimeter defense and Will Barton certainly isn’t known as a defender. He checks all the boxes to be traded except that he’s been here for 8 seasons, he has a rapport with players and members of the organization that could be difficult to break up. In my opinion, one of Barton or Morris is gone this offseason, partly to give Bones Hyland some more room to emerge but also to improve Denver’s guard defense. There is a world where both Morris and Barton are gone by this seasons tip-off, but I personally hope one of the two stays.
Levy: It has to be Will Barton. Nuggets fans are underrating his value, but I think it’s best for both parties if Barton is traded. The Nuggets in a Barton trade would be seeing a better defender come in for Barton’s spot in the rotation, and Barton would get a fresh start in a new city. He still has value to provide for teams, but with Jamal Murray coming back, Bones Hyland’s development, and a need for defense on the perimeter, Barton seems to be the odd man out. It’s unfortunate because Barton has provided a lot to the Nuggets over nearly the past decade, but it’s a business and sometimes things need to come to an end.
Whether it’s at 21 or 30, who is your dream target for the Nuggets?
Ewing: I’ll go with someone I rarely see mentioned and that is Johnny Davis out of Wisconsin. Davis was the Big 10 Player of the Year this past season after averaging 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for the Badgers. Davis has the ability to be an elite defensive player at the next level and is phenomenal at on-ball and off-ball defense. Not only can he defend, but as you can see from his stats Davis possesses the ability to score at will and haul in rebounds like a Dyson vacuum.
Davis is often mocked to go in the lottery, but toward the tail end in the 10 to 14 range. If the Nuggets could pair both of their first round picks along with a player to move up and draft Davis I think it would be a home run move. Davis could instantly slot in as the Nuggets starting two guard next season and would give them a player who can defend anyone and even help on the offensive end of the floor.
Gross: I mean the dream is that Sochan falls and Denver packages 21 and 30 to move up, right? Maybe Eason. But I don’t think that happens. My realistic dream for Denver is probably that either Jalen Williams or Dalen Terry gets to Denver at 21 and they take them. I think either has tremendous upside but can also play right now. MarJon Beauchamp is the backup plan, and then we start getting into some poorer scenarios. But there’s a lot of talent out in that range that can help Denver. Just gotta grab the right one.
Leensvaart: As Gordon said, the dream is to have a lottery talent fall to Denver on draft night. Whether it’s Sochan, Eason, or even Agabaji seems fairly unlikely. My dream target is Ochai Agbaji but realistically it’s Marjon Beauchamp. Beauchamp was invited to work out with the Nuggets on June 20th and impressed the organization, also impressing Nuggets fans alike. Marjon’s estimated range has been all over, I’ve seen him projected from a mid-first-round pick to a mid-second-rounder. But in all honesty, there are quite a few players that could help Denver in this years draft, it’s just a matter of who the front office likes best.
Levy: The dream for the Nuggets would be a Jeremy Sochan, AJ Griffin, or Dyson Daniels sort of pick (my favorite fit being Dyson Daniels). However, that’s unlikely to happen so as far as realistic targets go, it has to be one of MarJon Beauchamp, Wendell Moore Jr., or Dalen Terry. All of them fit needs of the Nuggets, namely defense. You could play any of the three right off the bat and ask them to play good defense. If one of the three is picked, I expect them to be in the playoff rotation.
Prediction time… call your shot… what do the Nuggets do on draft night?
Ewing: I have a feeling the Nuggets may do something special like try to trade up and target a player they like. One team I’d keep my eye on in the lottery is the Washington Wizards as they are looking for an established point guard — Morris fits that bill — and they could unload Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who would definitely help the Nuggets out.
The more likely scenario though and what I think will ultimately happen on Thursday is the Nuggets will move Barton to the Boston Celtics in a deal that nets them Derrick White. Denver shouldn’t have to attach either of their first round picks to make it happen, but I would probably still do the deal if they ask for the 30th pick along with Barton.
I think the Nuggets will keep Morris and look to either move him near the trade deadline or keep him if he and Hyland are playing well together off the bench. As far as their draft picks go, I think it will be Dalen Terry at pick 21 — as long as Jalen Williams is off the board — and then either Nikola Jovic, Christian Braun, or Andrew Nembhard with the 30th pick. I’ll slide David Roddy into that conversation as well because how cool would that be? Either way it’s shaping up to be a fun draft for the Nuggets and hopefully we get some fireworks!
Gross: Draft MarJon Beauchamp, trade Will Barton and 30 for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, keep Morris as the other potential deals fall through (like Josh Hart, or a big swing at OG Anunoby) and it’s risky to go with Bones as the backup point at this time. All of that makes sense and is doable. Everything else requires the Nuggets to get other teams to play along. Let’s just say I’ve gotten used to not expecting that, but am hoping to be pleasantly surprised on Draft night.
Leensvaart: I don’t think there’s a big trade in-store, while it would be nice to land OG Anunoby (finally) I don’t think Toronto is ready to give him up yet. I think what is most likely is that Denver selects Marjon Beauchamp at 21 and trades Will Barton + 30 for Alec Burks and Cam Reddish from the Knicks. Denver has so many options and paths they can go down on draft night that it’s hard to say what they will do. All I hope is that after the draft the Nuggets are a significantly better defending team.
Levy: Draft MarJon Beauchamp at 21 — all of the signs point that way, just look at the workout he had on Monday and tell me it doesn’t scream “I’m going to be a Denver Nugget”. He has ties to the organization and the front office seemed to love him. After that, the Nuggets trade Will Barton or Monte Morris plus pick 30 for an upgraded wing defender. My personal pick of what I think will happen is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but my hope would be Josh Hart.