Gary Harris, at the Pepsi Center on Friday, was the 19th pick in the NBA draft Thurs- day. The former Michigan State star was acquired by the Nuggets in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. He turns 20 on Sept. 14. (Steve Nehf, The Denver Post)

Grading The Denver Nuggets 2014 NBA Draft

The Denver Nuggets came into the 2014 NBA Draft with the 11th pick in the first round. That was seen as a very good pick given how deep this draft class is. There were still some very talented young players going late in the first round, so anything close to a top-ten pick would’ve been exciting.

When the Nuggets were on the board with that 11th draft pick, college phenom Doug McDermott was still on the board. McDermott grew a lot of interest from the Chicago Bulls and they weren’t about to see him go to Denver. So, they decided to trade up with Denver and take their 11th pick. In return, Denver received the Bulls’ 16th pick and 19th pick overall. This was a good trade because Denver would still be able to get two highly talented players with those picks. Well, that’s exactly what they got.

Before we get into the specifics of each draft pick they chose, let’s first take a quick look at who they grabbed and when they grabbed them:

With the 16th overall pick in the first round, the Denver Nuggets chose Jusuf Nurkic. He’s a center out of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With the 19th overall pick in the first round, the Denver Nuggets chose Gary Harris. He’s a shooting guard out of Michigan State.

With the 41st overall pick in the second round, the Denver Nuggets chose Nikola Jokic. He’s a power forward/center out of Serbia.

Now, let’s talk about each pick individually and how they will impact the Denver Nuggets.

Jusuf Nurkic – C

The Denver Nuggets had an excellent trade when they got rid of their 11th pick. This way they can get two talented young players with a lot of potential instead of just one. With their first pick, the 16th overall pick in the draft, they decided to go with the international big man from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Despite not even turning 20 yet, Nurkic stands 6-foot-11 tall and 280 pounds.

His size is what makes him a nice prospect, but it also brings in some questions. Some are questioning, like most young big men, whether or not he’ll be able to keep up with the other athletic big men in the league. His quickness might be lacking and will need to be worked on. With that aside, Nurkic is a beast down low. He’s an excellent shot blocker and a high-profile rebounder. He is also very efficient on the offensive end.

Nurkic will need to work on his post moves a little bit, as they are still a work in progress, and also seems to use his size as an advantage to get better positioning. However, he has a fantastic touch and has proven to be very effective coming out on pick and rolls.

The only thing that makes this draft pick an “incomplete” is the fact that they have no idea when he’ll actually play in the NBA. He could decide to play internationally for a few more seasons before officially joining the NBA. However, the Nuggets felt good picking him because they know when he does decide to make the move over to the States, he will be a very tough guy for opposing teams to defend.

Overall, I would give this draft pick a ‘B.’ IfNurkic were coming to the States this year, it would be a simple ‘A,’ but that’s not the case.

Gary Harris – SG

With their second first-round draft pick that they got from the Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets decided to fill one of their missing wing spots. Last season, they starred Randy Foye in that shooting guard position, but he didn’t really prove to be starting material. He had a great year shooting the ball, but would’ve been more effective off the bench.

With their 19th pick in the draft, they actually ended up with one of the best picks in the draft. Before the draft started, Gary Harris was a potential pick for the Nuggets with their original 11th pick. However, the Nuggets came away with a miracle when Harris was still available when the Nuggets went on the board for the second time.

Harris brings a lot to the table for Denver. Not only can he score from anywhere on the court, but he is also very well at defending on the perimeter. He is a bit undersized, at 6-foot-4, but his tenacity and shutdown defense allow him to take on bigger guards. When thinking about Gary Harris and Ty Lawson playing side-by-side, you can’t help but think of it as a dynamic duo. However, that may not happen after the Nuggets acquired Arron Afflalo on draft day. In a way, though, this could be good for Harris. It will give Harris someone to learn from, since Afflalo is pretty much the type of player Harris would like to be.

For this grade, since he was a potential top-10 pick, I would give the Nuggets an A for sure. This pick was definitely a steal.

Nikola Jokic – PF/C

With the Nuggets’ only second round pick of the draft, they decided to go big once again. They also decided to stay internationally. Jokic is a very talented big man, but also lacks on the athletic side. He will definitely need to work on his conditioning at the next level, which could’ve led to his drop in the draft. At 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, Jokic has yet to turn 20, just like Nurkic.

The Nuggets seem very interested in going international with their big man, which isn’t a surprise after their success with Timofey Mozgov. Jokic brings with him a very advanced post game for his age. However, he will need to focus a lot on defense if he ever decides to come over to the states. Since he is international, just like Nurkic, the Nuggets will have to wait with him as well. We don’t know when he’ll decide to officially join the NBA, but we know that Denver is happy with storing him for the near future.

I would give this draft pick a C+ since it’s another pick that won’t be playing next year. Safe to say, the Nuggets will have two talented big men coming in the next few years that they should be excited about.

Tags: Denver Nuggets Gary Harris Jusuf Nurkic NBA Draft 2014 Nikola Jokic

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