It’s still a couple of weeks out, but people are getting antsy about the NBA draft. While the focus of the NBA is on the finals rematch from last year, the other 28 teams are focused on improving with talent in this year’s stacked draft.
The NBA hasn’t seen an incoming class like this since 2003 when Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony entered the league, and the teams are salivating over the chance to get their franchise player. The Denver Nuggets have the 11th, 41st, and 56th picks in the upcoming draft, and even though they should try to trade out of that 11th pick and get a veteran shooter, the 11th pick isn’t exactly a place where the teams who want to trade up will want to be. They want a high lottery pick, not the 11th. So the Nuggets will go in looking to fill one of the few needs they have, a shooting guard.
Randy Foye stepped into this spot this season and produced, averaging 13.2 points per game, but that’s about as good as anyone sees him getting. Evan Fournier is also improving, but he is not ready to step into that starting role. Brian Shaw needs someone at the two guard that can shoot from outside and play well defensively to fit into his system. There are some good players that will be available- these are my top three.
Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Garry Harris is a great player that helped Tom Izzo’s Spartan team get to the sweet sixteen in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Harris is the third best guard in this class behind Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum, and has great skill that will transfer well into the NBA and especially to the Nuggets. He shot 35.2% from three last year, something that the Nuggets didn’t have a lot of last year with Danilo Gallinari out, and is also effective pulling up from mid-range and driving to the basket.
The thing that sets Harris apart from the other two prospects is his defense. He has great fundamentals which will help him tremendously in the NBA and will get him on the court early in his career. He averaged 1.8 steals last year and is able to guard the whole back-court. Harris is definitely my number one prospect for the Nuggets.
Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
This guy is a shooter. He averaged 45% from deep last year while posting a great 17.8 points per game for the Wolverines. He’s efficient on the offensive side, able to shoot over defenders and slash, but his downside is on the defensive side. He has a small wingspan for his height and and was often beat on the dribble. This is something that, if drafted at 11, Shaw will be able to help him develop- his defense.
Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
The thing you see first when looking at LaVine is his athleticism. He is very explosive and quick, which makes him great when he’s driving or on a fastbreak. He also has that outisde shot that the Nuggets need. He struggles with his basketball IQ, and isn’t the best defender either, but with his athleticism and a little time studying playbooks and the help from Shaw, LaVine could flourish in the NBA.