The Denver Nuggets have had a total of 36 first round draft picks in their history in the NBA. Some have been busts, some have been superstars, and some never even stepped on the court in a Nuggets uniform. Players who you have never heard of have been drafted high, and those that are late first round picks have been steals for the Nuggets. With the 2014 draft just a few weeks away, they’re hoping they get the next steal in the draft with their number 11 pick.
Between 2004 and 2009, the Nuggets only kept one player that they drafted, Julius Hodge. Hodge made his first start on January 5, 2007 and by February 7th he was no longer in the NBA. The Nuggets did get Ty Lawson during this time with a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but other than Lawson the Nuggets fans had little excitement during this time. But that was overlooked due to the drafting of Carmelo Anthony in 2003, the best draft pick in Nuggets history. He was picked 3rd, the highest pick that the Nuggets have ever had, and he proved his worth with his play. Although Denver still has a sour taste about Melo, he was the best pick in Nuggets draft history.
Coming in at the second best would easily be Dikembe Mutombo. The four time defensive player of the year didn’t have that great of support from the rest of the team, but he was an all star his rookie season and was a part of the Denver Nuggets team that was the first 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in NBA playoff history. He went on to play 5 other teams, but he’ll always be the dominate Denver big man to me.
Other notable names that have been drafted by the Nuggets are Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and Jalen Rose. Abdul-Rauf was one of the
best free throw shooters in history, who’s fame was hampered because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem because of his Islamic beliefs. Jalen Rose was best known for his role as part of the Michigan fab five, and only played two seasons in Denver before blossoming as a part of the Indiana Pacers.
The most recent success of the Nuggets in the draft was with the 22nd pick in the 2011 draft, Kenneth Faried. The Manimal sat behind Nene before for most of the 2011 season, but when Nene got hurt and Faried stepped up and impressed the George Karl and his staff so much that they traded Nene and Faried has been starting ever since. He is at the end of his rookie contract this year, and will be making big bucks as he moves forward as a pillar of the Nuggets.
These last couple of years haven’t treated the Nuggets bad either. Evan Fornier was drafted 20th in 2012, providing solid bench play for the Nuggets, along with their second round pick Quincy Miller.
As the Nuggets go into the draft, fans should take comfort in the Nuggets draft success in the recent years.