The Denver Nuggets, of all groups, know how important it is to nail their draft picks, as the Mile Superior Metropolis is just not a specifically interesting place for celebrity free agents. And to their credit, they have created the most out of their picks, primarily in the 2010s, where they built the core of their 2023 championship-successful group.
With that claimed, here are the 10 greatest draft picks the Nuggets have created in their franchise’s history.
10. Raef Lafrentz
Raef Lafrentz was a prototype for the unicorn massive male archetype we see presently. And the Nuggets undoubtedly experienced substantial hopes for Lafrentz when they selected him with the 3rd over-all select of the 1998 NBA Draft. Lafrentz was the uncommon major gentleman who could house the ground and safeguard the rim he averaged 2.5 swats a night in 3.5 seasons in the Mile Large Metropolis although building 198 triples.
Even while he fell way small of anticipations, particularly when the Nuggets could have taken a ton of other far more impressive gamers this sort of as Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, or Vince Carter, Lafrentz was not a enormous bust. In comparison to other Nuggets draftees, Lafrentz is unquestionably deserving of inclusion on this checklist.
9. Bryant Stith
The draft is a crapshoot. No matter the draft spot, there is a hazard that the participant groups pick out would end up falling way short of expectations. But in Bryant Stith’s case, the Nuggets had been equipped to draft a player who was a capable starter for several several years, which is a superior more than enough return for the 13th total decide on, all issues thought of.
Stith expended eight seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 10.9 details and 3.5 rebounds on 43 % capturing from the subject and 30.8 % capturing from deep.
Kenneth Faried failed to just excel in guarding the rim and at spacing the ground. But what Faried was through his heyday was a bundle of power. In every single possession, Faried was bursting with vigor, placing screens as hard as he could, rolling as quickly as he could to the rim, and crashing the boards with such simple ferocity.
Dubbed as the Manimal, Faried did not choose extended in establishing himself as the Nuggets’ setting up energy ahead in the early 2010s. He was a livewire on both of those finishes of the flooring, a wrecking ball of a male who instilled fear in the hearts of his opponents with his best-tier athleticism. For a excellent chunk of 7 seasons, Faried was a vital member of the crew, averaging 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 441 online games for the franchise.
As the Nuggets entered a new period with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray major the way, however, Kenneth Faried ultimately gave way to Paul Millsap as the team’s starting up four, a defensively-inclined burly power forward who also spaced the flooring — the superior complement to Jokic.
7. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, in many ways, was ahead of his time as a direct guard in the NBA. 30 many years back, a level guard’s position was to run the offense, get the ball into the submit, or hand off the ball to their very best participant and get out of the way. But Abdul-Rauf was considerably far more than the prototypical guard. He was a shot-creator at heart, and he beloved pulling up from distance ahead of it grew to become en vogue in the league.
In fact, Abdul-Rauf’s style of enjoy drew comparisons to Stephen Curry from Hall of Fame mentor Phil Jackson. That’s how ahead of his time the Nuggets guard was.
Alas, in spite of averaging 16 details in 6 seasons as a member of the Nuggets franchise, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf last played in the NBA in 2001, when he was just 31 a long time previous. Abdul-Rauf felt like he was blackballed out of the league many thanks to his staunch expression of his political beliefs. But that should not hide the simple fact that he was a substantial-high quality player in the NBA for just about a 10 years.
6. LaPhonso Ellis
LaPhonso Ellis just isn’t particularly a Nuggets legend. He won’t be building any biggest Nuggets players of all time lists before long plenty of, as he failed to accurately have a superior job peak. But there’s price in currently being a large-level function participant for multiple years, and Ellis certainly was that through his 6-yr stint with the franchise.
Ellis was a reliable frontcourt associate for Dikembe Mutombo, as Ellis was capable of spacing the ground — not exactly a common occurrence in the course of his time. In simple fact, the 6’8 electrical power forward had a year whereby he created 95 of his 259 makes an attempt from deep, excellent for 36.7 p.c, a rarity for electric power forwards during the 1990s.
In six yrs (343 online games) with the group, LaPhonso Ellis averaged 15,2 points and 7.9 rebounds per sport, peaking with an spectacular 21.9 factors and 7. rebounds for each recreation period with the staff in 1997.
For our discussion on who’s superior between Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic, hear down below:
5. Michael Porter Jr.
Getting into the 2018 NBA Draft cycle, Michael Porter Jr. was drawing rave testimonials, as he experienced the likely to be the next fantastic forward in a wing-pushed league. Nonetheless, Porter was not accurately lower from the similar cloth as Kevin Durant, as he flourished much more as an off-ball scorer, when his uninspiring physical issue did not just aid his standing on team’s draft boards. His back was a crimson flag, with even some evaluators believing that Porter may possibly not have the longest NBA job.
Even then, the Nuggets took a chance on Porter with the 14th over-all decide on of the draft and introduced him alongside slowly. Porter did not participate in at all throughout the 2018-19 period, and he played this kind of a bit part off the bench all through his debut campaign before rising as a vital fixture of the staff in the latter fifty percent of the period.
For the duration of the 2020-21 year, Michael Porter Jr. broke out in a big way, earning himself a enormous contract extension in the process to fill the function as the team’s third star together with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Right after a misplaced 2021-22 marketing campaign, Porter is now again and has settled into a function reduce down the offensive hierarchy than a lot of considered he’d seize pursuing his extraordinary sophomore period. But with what the Nuggets call for out of him, Porter performs his position at an extraordinary level — an audacious bomber who hardly ever shies away from any shot.
4. Dikembe Mutombo
When having into the account the whole body of work for the Nuggets franchise, Dikembe Mutombo may be deserving of a higher place on this record. Alas, the male who placed 3rd was substantial in propelling the staff to its initially-at any time championship, so Mutombo will have to “settle” for amount four.
With the fourth overall pick of the 1991 NBA Draft, the Nuggets were capable to draft 1 of the best rim protectors in background. Even while Mutombo performed in just 5 seasons for the franchise before he signed as a absolutely free agent with the Atlanta Hawks, he still remains the team’s all-time chief in blocks with 1,486 swats.
Of program, Dikembe Mutombo had some legendary times in a Nuggets uniform as properly. The lasting picture of the Nuggets’ extraordinary 1-8 upset above the Seattle Supersonics in 1994 was Mutombo slipping to the floor with the basketball with his confront entire of jubilation. He then broke into tears with his head resting upon the hardwood of the Sonics court docket as his coaches attempted to console him, to no avail.
3. Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray did not have the most seamless changeover to the specialist amount after he was drafted by the Nuggets with the seventh total pick in 2016. With the Nuggets obtaining drafted Emmanuel Mudiay not far too prolonged just before Murray’s arrival, the proficient guard was trapped in between two positions. But it did not consider prolonged right after that for Murray to established himself aside and forge a magical duo with Nikola Jokic.
In his 2nd time, Murray firmly founded himself as the Nuggets’ starting off position guard, getting the correct type of player the workforce necessary to keep up with where by the position was headed amid the a few-place revolution. But it was not till the 2020 NBA playoffs exactly where Murray burst onto the limelight as just one of the premiere postseason performers in the league. He went toe-to-toe in a thrilling offensive fight from Donovan Mitchell and snatched the Los Angeles Clippers’ collective souls, major the way for two historic 3-1 comebacks, the initial of its kind in league record.
And then in 2023, Jamal Murray showed that he is now all the way back again from the torn ACL he suffered in 2021. Murray played some sweet string music with Nikola Jokic in their vaunted two-man game, even notching historic figures in the course of action. With no Murray participating in the way he did, it truly is tough to imagine the Nuggets successful the 2023 NBA championship, Jokic’s greatness notwithstanding. Teams simply cannot set a value on psychological fortitude under the bright lights of the playoffs, and Murray has that in spades.
Back again in the 2003 NBA Draft, there were being no guarantees that the Nuggets would be ready to draft Carmelo Anthony, the dynamic tiny forward who lit the collegiate entire world ablaze as he led his Syracuse Orange to the national championship. They experienced the 3rd over-all decide on of the draft, with the Detroit Pistons looming as a danger to add Anthony to their main that had just created the Japanese Convention Finals.
But as destiny would have it, the Pistons took Darko Milicic around Anthony, so the Nuggets have been in company. And for all the flak Anthony has caught through his job for not staying the most effective two-way player he could have been specified his athletic presents, the gifted compact forward had an rapid effect for the team. Right before Anthony arrived, the Nuggets gained just 17 online games all through his rookie season, the staff was equipped to gain 43 video games, 26-sport improvement.
With Carmelo Anthony in the Mile Substantial Metropolis, the Nuggets manufactured the playoffs for 8 consecutive seasons, successful 50 or more online games four times and building the Western Conference Finals once. In 564 game titles as a member of the franchise, Anthony averaged 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.1 online games, notching 4 All-Star appearances alongside the way.
1. Nikola Jokic
When the Nuggets picked Nikola Jokic with the 41st in general choose of the 2014 NBA Draft, not way too a lot of compensated attention. After all, his selection came in the course of a Taco Bell advertisement on ESPN. Nonetheless, from the starting, Jokic’s ability was obvious. He had buttery contact all-around the hoop, and he was a burly existence in the paint, so his offensive prowess was not accurately an concern. It was his absence of athleticism, subpar conditioning, and projected shortcomings on the defensive conclude of the courtroom that failed to instill belief in expertise evaluators that he’d convert out to be one particular of the most significant stars of the match.
But little by little, Jokic began asserting himself as the Nuggets’ very best participant. He even pressured the crew to make a selection in 2017, when the Nuggets dealt away Jusuf Nurkic for Mason Plumlee to wholly hand about the keys of the team to the Serbian star. And Jokic did not disappoint.
Nikola Jokic has turn into an otherworldly offensive pressure, an unstoppable existence on that close of the flooring who bends defenses to his will. Jokic leverages his unbelievable contact from just about everywhere on the courtroom to make his teammates much better, environment them up with dribble handoffs, dunker spot dump-offs, and pinpoint crosscourt passes straight into their capturing pockets. The Nuggets have even built a workforce that a lot more than compensates for Jokic’s shortcomings as a rim protector, with the team maximizing the Serbian’s strengths in blitzing the pick-and-roll and remaining an in general disruptive existence in the passing lanes.
No a single could have foreseen that Jokic’s choice in 2014 would culminate in the franchise’s very first-at any time championship 9 years afterwards, but right here we are. Credit history should go to the Nuggets for encouraging develop Jokic into a two-time MVP and the finest draft steal of all time.