How the Denver Nuggets built through the NBA Draft
The Denver Nuggets just completed their most successful season in six years, as they won 54 games and made the Western Conference semifinals. Led by All-Star Nikola Jokić, Denver boasts a deep, young roster that includes seven players that averaged double-figures in scoring this past season. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Denver’s 2018-19 team is that five of those seven players were under the age of 24.
The Nuggets have carefully and patiently built through the draft in recent years, which when coupled with internal player development, allowed Denver to win seven playoff games this past season despite having the eighth-youngest playoff squad in NBA history.
There were many paths taken in the road to assembling the current roster, but the majority of the team’s rotation was selected by the team on various draft nights. So just how did the Nuggets slowly build through the NBA Draft? Let’s take a look year-by-year.
Michael Porter Jr. was selected with the 14th pick in the 2018 draft, which was Denver’s lone first-round pick. After sitting out the 2018-19 season to recover from previous injuries, Porter Jr. is slated to make his NBA debut in Summer League, which takes place next month in Las Vegas.
Porter Jr. will be joined by Jarred Vanderbilt, who was selected with the 41st overall pick in the 2018 draft, which the Nuggets traded up to acquire on draft night. In an exchange with the Orlando Magic, the Nuggets sent the 43rd overall pick and a future second-round pick to Orlando in order to move up to No. 41 and select Vanderbilt.
The 58th overall pick in the 2018 draft that was used to select Thomas Welsh was originally acquired in 2013, when the Nuggets completed a three-way trade with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz. The deal was headlined by the sign-and-trade of Andre Iguodala to the Warriors, as Denver received Randy Foye from the Jazz and the 2018 second-round pick from Golden State in the deal. Welsh spent most of the 2018-19 season in the G League and will be looking to lead Denver’s Summer League squad in Las Vegas.
After going undrafted in 2018, Brandon Goodwin signed a two-way contract with Denver in Dec. 2018.
A draft night trade with the Utah Jazz in 2017 brought Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon (the 24th overall selection) to Denver in exchange for the 13th overall pick.
Later in the draft, Denver selected Monte Morris at No. 51, a pick which was originally acquired in a trade that sent Joffrey Lauvergne to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Aug 2016.
The 7th overall pick in the 2016 draft that was used to select Jamal Murray actually came from the New York Knicks, as the Nuggets had 2016 first-round swap rights with New York as a result of the Carmelo Anthony trade in Feb. 2011.
Malik Beasley was selected 19th overall in the 2016 draft. Denver received that pick from the Trail Blazers in a trade package for Aaron Afflalo (that also brought Will Barton to Denver).
Juancho Hernangomez was selected 15th overall in the 2016 draft, a pick that Denver received in a trade package in July 2015 from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Ty Lawson.
Gary Harris was acquired on draft night in 2014, as the Nuggets sent the 11th overall pick (which became Doug McDermott) and Anthony Randolph to the Chicago Bulls for the No. 16 and No. 19 overall selections, the latter of which was used on Harris. No. 16 was used on Jusuf Nurkic, who was later traded (along with a 2017 lottery protected first round pick) in Feb. 2017 for Mason Plumlee.
With the 41st pick in the 2014 draft, the Nuggets selected Nikola Jokić, the team’s centerpiece and All-Star.