Class: JuniorHt: 6-foot-9Wt: 227 pounds [...]
Josh Kroenke, Nuggets president and governor, is bullish on his team’s future. [...]
On April 9, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook destroyed the hopes of Denver Nuggets fans.
His 36-foot, game-winning jumper at the buzzer at the Pepsi Center eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs — for the fourth consecutive season.
While all eyes will be on the 13th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft for a player who could help get Denver over the hump, the Nuggets also have the 49th and 51st picks.
Productive players can be found in the second round. Think Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 draft. Veterans Marc Gasol (2007, 48th pick) and Paul Millsap (2006, 47th pick) are all-stars. Golden State’s Draymond Green (2012, 35th pick) was snagged in the second round. Not to mention the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic — touted the future of the franchise — was taken 41st overall in 2014.
Here are five players that the Nuggets should keep their eyes peeled for late in the draft:
Charlie Riedel, The Associated PressOregon forward Jordan Bell (1) dunks against Kansas during the second half of the Midwest Regional final of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo.
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6-foot-9, 225 pounds
Position: Power forward
Stats: 11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Bell is projected to be off the board by the early second round, but if he is available, there is no reason why the Nuggets should think twice about picking him up. He fits an immediate need for Denver with his interior defense. Bell was the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 3.1 blocks and 1.8 steals per 40 minutes. His high motor and physicality makes up for his lack of size and he figures to be able to guard from the 3-5 at the NBA level.
David Purdy, Getty ImagesJohnathan Motley (5) of the Baylor Bears battles for a rebound with Solomon Young (33) of the Iowa State Cyclones in the second half of play at Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 25, 2017 in Ames, Iowa.
6-10, 230 pounds
Position: Power forward/center
Stats: 17.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Motley would give the Nuggets another rebounder around the rim and defensive versatility in the middle. With a 7-4 wingspan, the Baylor product has the potential to be a strong shot-blocking presence at the next level (Averaged 1.1 blocks for the Bears last season).
Ronald Martinez, Getty ImagesNigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs handles the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.
6-3, 195 pounds
Position: Point guard
Stats: 16.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists
The Nuggets already have a lot of young guards. But they don’t have one with the pass-first mindset that Williams-Goss possesses. With Jameer Nelson creeping up in age and Emmanuel Mudiay looking to regain footing in his third season, the 2017 WCC Player of the Year is an insurance policy at the backup point guard position. Williams-Goss is a proven winner, having lead Gonzaga to its first NCAA title game last season.
Stacy Revere, Getty ImagesCameron Oliver #0 of the Nevada Wolf Pack attempts a shot in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 16, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wis.
6-8, 225 pounds
Position: Power forward
Stats: 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Oliver has two-way potential and could be contributor, should Danilo Gallinari leave the Mile High City in free agency. He averaged 3.4 blocks per 40 minutes at Nevada.
Kevin C. Cox, Getty ImagesMatt Jones of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after forcing a turnover in the second half against the Troy Trojans during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 17, 2017 in Greenville, S.C.
6-5, 204 pounds
Position: Shooting guard
Stats: 7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists
A 3-point specialist, Jones would be a nice fit in the Nuggets’ free-flowing offensive scheme. The Blue Devil also makes sense from a defensive standpoint as he was an ACC all-defensive selection last year. [...]
Nuggets Insider Christopher Dempsey answers fan questions from the mailbag in his weekly series. [...]
The Nuggets don’t need to hire Chauncey Billups to win a championship. But it’s time for president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to stop talking about being aggressive in the trade market and go get Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler or New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis.
You interested in patiently waiting until 2020 for the Nuggets to be more than dust bunnies for Kevin Durant to mop off the floor? Me, neither.
While disgruntled Indiana star Paul George informed the Nuggets months ago his next move would be to the beaches of Los Angeles rather than the mountains of Colorado, Butler is definitely on the trade block and Porzingis might be, depending on the mood of zen master Phil Jackson when he brushes his teeth on any given morning.
Do the Nuggets have the resources to obtain Butler or Porzingis in a trade? Here are two deals, humbly proposed. Connelly can pick the one he likes best, and doesn’t even have to give me credit. All I ask is his silent and eternal gratitude.
Trade A: Denver sends Wilson Chandler, Will Barton and Emmanuel Mudiay to Chicago in return for Butler, a three-time all star who averaged 23.9 points last season and has two years remaining on his contract before he can opt out in 2019.
Are the Celtics or Cavaliers offering Chicago a better deal? If so, maybe the Nuggets could consider substituting Jamal Murray for Mudiay in their offer.
Trade B: Denver sends Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez in return for Porzingis, the 7-foot-3 “Unicorn” who could join forces with Nikola “Big Honey” Jokic to make the Nuggets a matchup nightmare for nearly every team in the league.
As much as I like Murray, I’m not sure he and Hernangomez would be enough to tempt the Knicks. It might require Denver to up the ante with a No. 1 draft pick.
If Connelly can’t compete with Boston and Cleveland in the bidding for Butler, then maybe the talent on the Nuggets’ roster isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If the Nuggets can’t get the best of crazy uncle Phil in trade discussions with the Knicks, then maybe I overestimated how well franchise president Josh Kroenke learned the art of the deal from his billionaire father.
As the Nuggets’ brass finalized their plans for the 13th overall pick in the NBA draft, Arturas Karnisovas stood on the practice court at the Pepsi Center earlier this week and succinctly explained his mission, now that he has been promoted to general manager.
“You have to start showing results,” Karnisovas said.
Building slowly on the modest success of last year’s 40-42 record and biding time until the Warriors get tired of ruling the NBA might be a solid basketball strategy for the Nuggets. But it’s not going to put fannies in the seats in Denver, dead last in league attendance.
The rise of a super team in the NBA has turned the most chaotic week on the league calendar into a feeding frenzy, with star players and GMs alike looking for some way to put up a fight against the Warriors. The draft always makes cellphones burn hot with trade chatter. Now is the time for Denver to strike, or forever hold its peace, as one of the franchise’s long-ballyhooed trade chips, Danilo Gallinari, decides whether he wants to leave town as a free agent.
When Billups goes to work for LeBron James, don’t come crying to me. Although I’ve pushed long and loudly for Denver to hire Billups as Mr. Big Shot in the front office, my understanding is the Nuggets have shown interest but never seriously considered giving him a truly serious job.
Billups wants to be the architect of a champion, not a Walmart greeter at the Pepsi Center. From all indications, the Cavaliers have a higher opinion than his hometown does of Billups, as good at motivating people as identifying the factors that make a winner.
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Connelly freely admits the Nuggets make regular projections, looking at how many years down the line there might be a real opportunity for them to compete for an NBA championship. How long will the window of dominance by Warriors be open? “It was a big reopening for Golden State when K.D. re-signed,” Connelly said.
So why wait? Go get Butler, one of [...]
ATLANTA — A person familiar with the situation says the Charlotte Hornets have reached an agreement to acquire center Dwight Howard from the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks are sending Howard and the No. 31 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft to Charlotte for center Miles Plumlee, shooting guard Marco Belinelli and the 41st pick, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the trade is not yet official.
Howard will be playing for his third team in three seasons following a disappointing homecoming in Atlanta.
Howard signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Atlanta and then sat out the fourth quarter in two of six playoff games in the Hawks’ first-round loss to Washington.
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawcynski in Minneapolis and AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report. [...]
Sunday afternoon, the worst-kept secret in the NBA was broadcast to the masses: Indiana Pacers star Paul George, one of the league’s best two-way players, plans to play out the final year of his contract and enter free agency next summer — with the intent of heading back to his native southern California to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
But while George’s wishes were widely known, the fact that his agent, Aaron Mintz of Creative Artists Agency, was willing to tell the Pacers exactly what his client plans to do sets up the dominoes that will impact everything this summer. And it’s made George the grand prize for every team to pursue over the coming months.
It was already expected to be a busy summer, one that began this weekend when the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a trade for the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft, an offseason filled with more uncertainty and intrigue than any in years. While Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are all but certain to remain with the Golden State Warriors once they hit free agency on July 1, and Chris Paul is likely to do the same with the Los Angeles Clippers (despite rumors to the contrary), all-stars such as Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry all could potentially change teams — and change the balance of power in both conferences if they choose.
Those players are talented, to be sure, but none of them possess the same upside as George, who is not only the youngest of them (a couple months younger than Hayward) but also the best defensive player. In a league where wings who score efficiently and defend are at a premium, George’s value is immense.
That’s why there will be a rush of teams angling to secure his services, even if there’s just one year remaining on his contract. For all of George’s bluster about his desire to go only to the Lakers, teams with aspirations of a deep playoff run will hope that, after a year in their system, he’ll want to stay.
And the Lakers are all but certain to stink next season (assuming they don’t get George this summer), and the idea of leaving a contending team to play for a struggling one will be harder for George to stomach than his current situation — leaving a middling team with no clear path to the top of the East.
So, over the next few weeks, expect George’s name to come up constantly. Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard — who only came into the job earlier this offseason, after Larry Bird decided to step down — will face a difficult set of negotiations, given his lack of leverage due to George’s contract status and stated desire to go to Los Angeles.
But that won’t stop Pritchard’s phone from ringing off the hook. Plenty of teams are going to be after the all-star forward, beginning with the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Rumors had already been percolating that the Cavaliers were going to make a run at George (a friend of LeBron James) this offseason, and George would be a perfect fit for a team trying to gear up to take another swipe at the Warriors next spring. Cleveland also has the best present-day asset any team is going to give up to get George in Kevin Love, who would be an outstanding fit next to young center Myles Turner in Indiana’s frontcourt.
The Celtics should also be in the mix. Boston now has eight first-round picks in the next three drafts after making the deal with Philadelphia, which is expected to be approved Monday, and have no one even close to George’s overall talent level. With so many assets available to them, the Celtics seem like an obvious fit whether or not they can get someone such as Hayward or Griffin as a free agent this summer.
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And, of course, expect the Lakers to get in on the action. It’s hard to see any scenario in which Los Angeles would give up the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, nor should it. But it’s still unclear exactly how the Lakers will operate under the new stewardship of Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka.
It must also be noted that owner Jeanie Buss’s stated desire is to have an all-star on the roster for next season’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. It’s been a long time since the Lakers have been abl [...]
Philadelphia and Boston have agreed in principle on a trade where the 76ers would acquire the chance to take Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
The Celtics will get the No. 3 pick, plus an additional first-rounder in either 2018 or 2019, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday night because the trade has not been formally approved by the league. The agreement between the Celtics and 76ers was struck not long after Fultz worked out for Philadelphia on Saturday evening.
Once the trade goes through, Philadelphia will own the NBA’s No. 1 selection for the second straight season.
Fultz — donning a Philadelphia cap as he arrived at the team’s practice facility — visited the 76ers in a hastily arranged get-to-know-you session, with the workout and meeting with team officials on his itinerary. That visit was essentially the final hurdle to clear before Boston and Philadelphia could decide to actually consummate the trade.
“I don’t really pay attention to everything that’s going on,” Fultz said. “I’m truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
Barring any other changes before Thursday, the first four spots in this year’s draft order would mirror the first-four from last year: Philadelphia at No. 1, the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, Boston at No. 3 and Phoenix at No. 4.
Fultz’s rise to stardom has been rapid. In 2014, he was playing junior varsity basketball in high school. Barely three years later, he’s almost certainly going to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft — and if he gets to start his pro career by calling Philadelphia his new home, he’ll be living roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive from his hometown of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
“It would be pretty cool. Just being with a young team,” Fultz said. “The upside of it would be crazy. I’m close to home, so a lot of my family can come out and just show love. This city has great fans.”
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25 games during his lone college season at Washington, excelling on a team that finished 9-22 and lost its final 13 games. Fultz led the Pac-12 in scoring and finished No. 6 among all Division I players, and was the top freshman scorer in the country.
Over the past 10 seasons, only two other freshmen had a better scoring average in college: Kevin Durant for Texas in 2006-07, and Michael Beasley for Kansas State in 2007-08.
Durant and Beasley were both No. 2 draft picks.
Fultz is apparently going to get taken one spot better.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to help any team I go to win,” Fultz said.
Philadelphia had the No. 1 draft spot three previous times, taking Doug Collins in 1973, Allen Iverson in 1996 and Ben Simmons a year ago.
The 76ers have a top-three pick for the fourth straight year: No. 3 Joel Embiid in 2014, No. 3 Jahlil Okafor in 2015 and Simmons in 2016. But with Fultz, Philadelphia — which has asked its fans to endure some very dismal stretches and “Trust The Process” for the past few years — would likely expect to turn a real corner toward respectability again.
Philadelphia went 28-54 this past season, after winning 19, 18 and 10 games respectively in the previous three seasons.
Last season’s improved win total came with Okafor (50), Embiid (31) and Simmons (0) combining for 81 appearances, as Philadelphia’s trend of being snakebitten by injuries continued. Embiid and Dario Saric will finish in the top three when rookie of the year results get announced on June 26, and Simmons is expected to be ready for next season after recovering from foot surgery.
Embiid posted a photo on Saturday of he and Saric standing in front of a locker — already bearing Fultz’s name.
“Embiid, he and I have been talking before when I was in college,” Fultz said. “He’s a cool guy. He’s giving me tips and pointers and he’s pretty funny, so when I saw that it was pretty cool and pretty funny. I’m pretty happy that the players here want me to come here.” [...]
LOS ANGELES — Diana Taurasi scored 19 points to break the WNBA career scoring record in the Phoenix Mercury’s 90-59 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.
Taurasi finished with 7,494 points, passing Tina Thompson’s mark of 7,488. Taurasi broke the record in the closing seconds of the first half, coming around a screen by Emma Cannon near the top of the key and knifing into the lane, past Nneka Ogwumike, for a layup.
The game was stopped and the crowd, which included former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, gave Taurasi a warm ovation. It only took the Mercury star 13 seasons to become the league’s top scorer. Thompson needed 17 seasons to achieve her total. Earlier in the season, Taurasi set the career 3-pointer record, passing Katie Smith.
Ogwumike led the Sparks (8-3) with 18 points and had seven rebounds, and Candace Parker added 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Sparks raced to a 15-0 lead, were up 22-2 and led 38-17 at the end of the first quarter. It was their highest-scoring quarter of the season and two points shy of the WNBA record for most points in a quarter.
Riquna Williams hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 30 points early in the fourth and Odyssey Sims hit two free throws to make it 90-57, the biggest lead of the season for Los Angeles. Williams finished with a season-high 15 points.
The Mercury (6-5) had a season-high 19 turnovers, were held nearly 25 points below their season scoring average (83.7) and shot a season-low 32.8 percent from the field. [...]
In anticipation of the 2017 NBA Draft in which Denver currently holds the 13th, 49th and 51st picks, the Nuggets will host a viewing part [...]
Get to know the draft prospects through some fun questions and answers. [...]