Looking at the Nuggets roster, they certainly have plenty of talent moving forward. Denver has their franchise cornerstone in Nikola Jokic, their promising second-fiddle in Jamal Murray, and a solid cast of young role players in Juan Hernangomez, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley and Mason Plumlee. Jokic alone might be enough for the Nuggets to make a push for the playoffs next season. Adding another young player that can gain experience in multiple postseason series’ will be key in the Nuggets getting to that next level as a ball club.
Denver is situated in a bit of a tough spot as it currently stands. The biggest area of need for them is at the big man spot alongside Jokic, where they could use an athletic defender. Jokic is a true center, and doesn’t have quite the foot speed to keep up with the league’s current power forwards. Prospects like Jarrett Allen, Justin Patton, Ike Anigobogu, and Bam Adebayo are good athletes, but are all likely to be slotted as centers at the next level for their offensive limitations. Pairing Jokic with one of those players will look a lot like when the Kings tried a DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein front court. It works in spurts, but the offensive spacing just isn’t quite right.
Ideally, the Nuggets have Zach Collins fall in their laps. The Gonzaga freshman has good size, athleticism and is stretchy enough to allow Jokic to operate in his favorite spots on the floor. He doesn’t leap like Adebayo or Anigbogu, but Collins blocked nearly two shots a game while playing 17.2 minutes. He’s the type of all-around big that teams covet in today’s game. He probably doesn’t fall to the Nuggets, but they’d jump on him if given the chance.
Another Collins might be of interest to the Nuggets on Thursday – Wake Forest’s John Collins. The Deamon Deacon doesn’t have quite the size of the Zag, but was a highly productive player at the collegiate level. John was a terrific rebounder, notching just under 10 boards a game while logging 26.6 minutes a contest.
His outside shot is a work in progress, but he’s got a good motor and can play either big position. John might be the most likely pick for the Nuggets, but it certainly won’t invoke a lot of excitement in the Denver faithful.
Notice when mentioning the Nuggets roster earlier there were a few names – purposefully – left out. Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jameer Nelson and Wil Barton are all decent-to-good players that might be better used as trade pieces for the Nuggets to move up in Thursday’s draft. A team that needs a few veterans – the Timberwolves perhaps? – could afford moving down and acquiring one of Denver’s pieces.
The reason being is to draft the prospect that would fit absolutely perfectly on this Nuggets team: Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac. Isaac is a freak athlete that can stretch the floor and handle the ball. He’s more of a 4 than he is a 3, and this current roster would help accentuate his skills. Having him and Jokic in the front court together would be a nightmare down the line, as both guys can handle the ball at an exceptional level for their size. It also give the Nuggets a player that aligns with Murray and Jokic’s developmental timeline. That trio would be a forced to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.
THE VERDICT: The Nuggets have acquired enough assets over the years to justify trading up to select the promising Jonathan Isaac.