Nuggets have plenty of options heading into 2012 NBA Draft

Denver holds three selections and no glaring need on deep roster
by Aaron Lopez

The Denver Nuggets hit a home run in the 2011 NBA Draft, selecting Kenneth Faried out of Morehead State and acquiring Andre Miller and the rights to Jordan Hamilton in a three-team trade.

Faried went on to become a member of the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie First Team, while Miller provided veteran leadership and precision passing as the team’s backup point guard.

A year later, the Nuggets are ready to step to the plate and take a few more swings at improving their roster for 2012-13.

The Nuggets hold the 20th, 38th and 50th selections in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. With a deep roster and 12 players already under contract, they have the luxury of exploring all options when deciding how to utilize those picks.

“We have good players at every position,” Nuggets scouting director Mike Bratz said. “We have depth. We don’t have a glaring need. It affords us to take the best player available and the best player who fits our team. We think there are three or four guys who may fall to us at 20 who could fill that spot.”

The draft represents the culmination of months of research and preparation by Nuggets president Josh Kroenke, executive vice president Masai Ujiri and their scouting/personnel staff of Pete D’Alessandro, Bratz, Herb Livsey and Dan Tolzman.

In addition to observing and interviewing prospects at the predraft combine in Chicago earlier this month, the Nuggets brought in 29 players for private workouts at Pepsi Center.

Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins, who led the nation in total three-pointers and was the SEC’s top scorer last season, worked out twice in Denver. He is among several candidates who could blossom into a consistent perimeter threat.

“Philosophically, I think we need shooting,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “I think we need to make more shots than we did this year. We also want to run and get more athletic.”

Quincy Miller certainly would fit Karl’s uptempo style. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward out of Baylor was named the Big 12 2011-12 Co-Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds.

“I’m an energy guy, a tough guy,” Miller said after his predraft workout in Denver. “I think I translate well and fit in well with the Nuggets. I know they run. They shoot quick, they get to the cup quick and they get to the free throw line. That’s the type of player I think I am.”

With no shortage of mock drafts, Miller is one of several players who have been tabbed as good fits for Denver.

The most oft-mentioned names associated with the 20th pick are North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall, Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie, Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, Iowa State forward Royce White and Baylor forward Perry Jones III.

“This draft has some very quality players,” Bratz said. “It’s pretty deep. People say maybe there’s not a lot of All-Stars, but I think there will be quite a few starters who will emerge from this draft.”

Bratz, a former NBA guard who has been in scouting for more than 20 years, is the first to admit that no one really knows how things will transpire on draft night. The Nuggets will be prepared for any scenario.

“You talk to people and you try to get some idea what’s going to happen,” Bratz said. “As it unfolds and the names go off the board, you get a clear picture of what you’re going to have available at your selection.”

Based on their recent track record of landing Faried at No. 22 last year and acquiring the draft nights to No. 18 pick Ty Lawson in 2009, the Nuggets will do just fine on Thursday night.

“It’s the culmination of all your hard work during the year and all the thoughts that you have about players,” Bratz said. “You’re putting everything together and trying to make decisions. It’s an exciting time.”