Nuggets will have collaborative effort for 2014 NBA Draft

GM Tim Connelly leads the way as Denver decides on 11th pick
by Aaron Lopez

As Tim Connelly prepared for the 2013 NBA Draft, he couldn’t help but feel like a college student cramming for finals.

After joining the Denver Nuggets as their general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations on June 17, Connelly had a mere 10 days to get up to speed for draft night.

Because of sweeping changes in the front office, he also was operating with a skeleton staff, relying on veteran scout Herb Livsey for player evaluations.
“I was the only one left,” Livsey said.

It will be a much more collaborative effort during the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

In addition to Livsey, Connelly will be joined in the draft room by team president Josh Kroenke, assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas, director of basketball operations Ben Tenzer, director of scouting Jim Clibanoff, pro personnel scout Jared Jeffries, international scout Rafal Juc and manager of basketball analytics Tommy Balcetis.

“It’s cool because it’s like a big think tank in there,” Clibanoff said. “Tim is so good at initiating these discussions and soliciting information from everybody from all different angles."

“I never played, so it’s like a non-player’s scouting standpoint; you’ve got Arturas, who was an outstanding international player and Herb who has a coaching perspective. You have Tommy from an analytical standpoint and Ben looking at how guys fit the salary cap. You’ve got Jared in there as a former player. It is such a good blend of opinions.”

Those varying viewpoints will lead to a decision on how the Nuggets will use the 11th overall pick on Thursday. They also hold two second-round selections (Nos. 41 and 56).

After scouting players domestically and overseas, the Nuggets held several predraft workouts featuring nearly 20 players this month.

Whether Denver chooses any of those players remains to be seen. Connelly has made it known that he will entertain trade offers as other teams look to maneuver on draft night.

Led by top prospects Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 draft class is considered one of the deepest in years.

While eager to land a talented player, Denver won’t need to rush a rookie into the rotation next season. The Nuggets have 13 players under contract for 2014-15, allowing coach Brian Shaw and his staff to develop any prospects added to the roster.

“A lot of players, once they’re selected, people say that’s validation of who he is,” Clibanoff said. “That’s not how I look at it. You’ve got to wait. Let’s see if he can play.”

First things first. The wait for draft night is almost over. Let’s see who the Nuggets select.