2014 NBA Draft: 5 Players the Denver Nuggets Should Target
Denver Nuggets: 5 Players They Should Target In the 2014 NBA Draft
The Denver Nuggets entered the 2013-14 season with a new coach and high hopes, but a very difficult Western Conference coupled with a rash of injuries to key players has left the Nuggets on the outside looking in. The good news for Nuggets fans is, thanks to the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011, Denver possesses the New York Knicks' first-round pick this season, one that looks like a pretty good bet to fall in the top 10. The Nuggets' own pick will go to the Orlando Magic, but with the Knicks' pick, Denver should end up with a top prospect in what's regarded by many to be the best draft in some time.
Now, this list comes with a few caveats: first, and foremost, no one has any idea as to which players will ultimately declare for the draft. Second, until the lottery takes place in May, we'll have no idea where teams will be picking. With only 20-some-odd games left in the regular season, a lot can still change in terms of positioning. With the lottery ultimately looming, even the team with the lowest odds still possesses an opportunity to land a top-three pick. However, with the way the Knicks have been playing lately, it'd surprise no one if the Nuggets had a good opportunity at landing a top-five pick come June.
Denver's roster is full of good young players, but other than point guard, where they're set with Ty Lawson, there are no other positions that the Nuggets should ignore in the draft due to current personnel. Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are both solid young players, but the former is always injured and the latter has been a defensive liability. With the crop of talent slated to come out of college, Denver can surely find improvements over both players.
Barring an unforeseen hot streak by the Knicks, the Nuggets will likely have a golden opportunity to add a top prospect to their roster. While it's still a possibility, for the purpose of this list, we'll assume the Nuggets won't end up with a top two pick, but anything thereafter is fair game. To find out just whom Denver should target, click through the following slideshow.
Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins entered the 2013-14 season as the consensus pick to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft, but as the season has worn on, he has seemingly been surpassed by his teammate Joel Embiid and Duke's Jabari Parker. Wiggins is still an elite prospect, who can do pretty much everything on the court, but he's going to need to bulk up to handle the rigors of the NBA. The Nuggets don't have a definitive shooting guard in place and they'd do backflips if Wiggins fell in their lap.
Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Julius Randle is another elite prospect who could fall in Denver's range come draft night. Randle is a bull inside, one of the rare prospects who profiles as a true blue collar power forward, capable of putting up a double-double any night. Although Randle's maturity and defensive effort may be an issue, with the right coaching, he has a chance to be special and could team with Kenneth Faried to make the Nuggets' frontcourt a rebounding machine.
Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Dante Exum is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft and for good reason. Exum, who currently plays in Australia, is capable of playing either guard position and is lightning quick off the dribble with elite athleticism. Although it's difficult to measure just how good he is given his level of competition, scouts seem to be unanimous in thinking Exum will be a top-10 pick in June. The Nuggets are set at point guard with Ty Lawson, but, at 6-foot-7, if he can pack on some more muscle, Exum is more than capable of teaming with Lawson in a multi-pronged backcourt.
Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
While Noah Vonleh hasn't gotten the same publicity as many of the other top prospects in the 2014 draft, his potential is perhaps just as great. Vonleh is the rare prospect who already possesses a NBA-ready body and, at 6-foot-10, 240, he's a load to handle in the paint. Vonleh also has a tremendous wingspan, which could allow him to be a plus shot-blocker at the NBA level. Adding him to their young and talented front-court rotation could give Denver a huge boost going into next season.
Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
With all the hoopla surrounding Jabari Parker, his teammate Rodney Hood gets lost in the shuffle quite a bit. However, anyone who has seen Hood play, knows that he's got a very bright future himself. Hood can play either perimeter position and, at 6-foot-8, he's got tremendous length for either a shooting guard or small forward. Hood's athletic enough to take opponents off the dribble, but he can also keep them honest with an accurate outside shot. Throw in an advanced basketball IQ and the Nuggets could jump at the chance to take the talented Blue Devil.