Denver Nuggets' Tim Connelly exploring options to improve roster ahead of NBA Draft

by Alex Labidou Staff Writer

There is no night bigger than the NBA Draft when it comes to building a roster, at least that’s what Tim Connelly believes. Although the Nuggets don’t have a pick in either round of this year’s annual selection show at the moment, the team’s President of Basketball Operations expects to be active on June 20th.

“I just think we wouldn't be doing our job if we don't circle that night [as an important one], not just for the potential of getting into the draft and selecting someone [but also for] potentially making trades and augmenting our roster,” Connelly told on Wednesday after his visit at Western Union. “I don't think it would be wise if you're not approaching that night as one of the biggest nights of the year for all front offices.”

Unless the Nuggets are able to secure a pick, the team will have to look into alternative methods to infuse young talent into the roster. The team held a pre-draft workout Tuesday, when they hosted six players and evaluated their skillsets up close and in person. Connelly explained how the NBA’s two-way contract option now makes teams evaluate more than the typical 60-player boards that teams used to be accustomed to. That can be invaluable in being able to find a contributor who might go undrafted.

“There's so many good players and so much of it is situational,” Connelly said. “Will they go to a team that allows them to play through their mistakes? Is there a role that allows them to continue to grow?”

He added, “You are always trying to find guys who fit your culture. Self-motivated guys, hard-working guys. [They] certainly have to have a high degree of skill and athleticism to match, but we've had a lot of luck with certain archetypes: Guys who love to play and don't take themselves too seriously and live in the gym.”

The Nuggets could also be boosted by Michael Porter Jr., who they took with the 14th overall pick in the 2018 Draft. He appears to set to make his debut in Summer League after spending his first year in the NBA recovering from injury. Another young prospect to keep an eye on is 22-year-old Vlatko Čančar, the Nuggets’ second round pick in 2017. Čančar averaged 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds on 46.4 percent shooting last season for the San Pablo Burgos and was named as one of the top five young players by Liga ACB. He also showed glimpses of his potential with the Nuggets’ Summer League team last summer as he was fourth in scoring at 9.0 points per game.

READ MORE: Vanderbilt, Welsh excited to continue development in Summer League

Connelly has been impressed with the Slovenian’s development and acknowledged the forward could be a potential roster addition in the near future.

“We've had a lot of luck of drafting guys and let them develop a bit more internationally. In the last two years, he's taken huge steps towards being on our roster,” Connelly said. “I thought he had a very big summer league last summer, he's a guy who's going to wear a Nuggets uniform sooner rather than later.”


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