The Nuggets are out of the lottery for the first time in quite a
few years.  Their net co-GM's are:

    Rick Grubin

John Exby

and they select with the 13th pick: B.J. Tyler, PG, 6-1. Texas ================================================================ Denver Nuggets 1993-94 record: 42-40, 4th in Midwest Division playoffs: #8 seed in the Western Conference beat #1 Seattle 3-2 lost #5 Utah 3-4 Team Needs (and a short recent history) --------------------------------------- [Denver made the playoffs for the first time in four years this season, as the #8 seed in the Western Conference. They upset #1 seed and regular season best-record holder Seattle in round one, coming back from an 0-2 deficit to win the best of five series. They were defeated by #5 seed Utah 3-4, after being down 0-3 and rallying to tie the series at 3-3, in the semi-finals.] The Nuggets are a team that, two years ago, were coming off seasons of 20-62 and 24-58. A coaching change (to Dan Issel) was a step in the right direction, and solid drafting landed LaPhonso Ellis and Bryant Stith in Denver. In addition, the Nuggets greatly solidified their front court by trading for Brian Williams, and drafting rookie Rodney Rogers with the 9th pick last year. With Dikembe Mutombo becoming a premier shot blocker and defensive stopper and veteran Reggie Williams, Denver is strong at the center and forward spots. The Nuggets backcourt has been a question mark all season long. They opened with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (MAR), Robert Pack, Bryant Stith, Mark Macon and rookie 2nd round draft pick Darnell Mee. Macon was soon traded to Detroit (with Marcus Liberty) for Alvin Robertson, in an effort to provide veteran leadership and stability in the backcourt. Robertson never played a game, due to back injuries. Denver has lacked a point guard to run the team in the half court offense; Pack is (mostly) dynamite on the break. Stith is solid and a good big guard, but backup there is thin (Reggie Williams can swing to big guard). The Denver frontcourt looks to be solid for years to come: center Dikembe Mutombo (3rd year), center/forward Brian Williams (3rd year), LaPhonso Ellis (2nd year) and Rodney Rogers (1st year). Reggie Williams (7th year) rounds out the rotation of centers/forwards. They're young and talented, and improving. Team needs reside mostly in the backcourt. GM Bernie Bickerstaff is on record as stating he wants (point) guards who "understand the game." He's stated that he feels Robert Pack is a solid backup point guard, not a starter (and Pack held out to start the season). Bickerstaff has, at various times, expressed displeasure with MAR. Denver's guard corps is MAR, Pack, Stith and Darnell Mee. Reggie Williams swings to the backcourt as well. There has been talk of trading players, draft picks, or both, to obtain backcourt help. Other team needs are a bona-fide shooter/scorer with long range off the bench. The coaching staff and front office is very solid and appears set for the forseeable future. Bickerstaff has rebuilt a team in a shambles, guiding them back to NBA respectability. The Denver Nuggets, by position: Center ------ The Nuggets have the NBA's premier shot blocker and (despite recent All-Defense team voting) one of the top defensive centers in Dikembe Mutombo. Mutombo has matured into the defensive and rebounding force he was expected to be when he entered the NBA. Offensively, Mutombo is limited: his shooting range is perhaps 10ft, and his low post moves are two, a back-down/head-and-shoulder fake, and a jump hook. However, this is a vast improvement over his first two seasons, where virtually all of his points came on the offensive boards. Mutombo was misused as a "go-to" player as a rookie -- his strengths are rebounding and defense. The coaching staff has worked hard with Mutombo to create some low post offense, and it is paying off. He has two decent offensive moves and his passing from the low post to cutters is significantly better. Improvements for Mutombo would be to get stronger; he is strong already, but has some difficulty in powering the ball up to the basket in traffic. Mutombo will never be known for soft hands, but he must catch the ball better in traffic as well. His free-throw shooting must get better. Overall, Mutombo more than fills his role on the Nuggets, as rebounder and defender in the lane. He's only improved as he's gained experience. Brian Williams is the backup center for Denver (as well as playing power forward). Since coming to Denver, he's shown the form that was expected of him when he was drafted in the lottery by Orlando in 1991. He's very quick at 6'11", able to go around opposing centers and forwards offensively, and get into position to block shots defensively. He has decent shooting range, up to 15ft, and solid low post moves, with a nice touch on jump hooks. He rebounds well at both ends, and runs the floor to fill the break and follow up missed shots. He's a decent passer, and has good hands. Improvements would be better movement on defense. Williams has adjusted well to coming off the bench, and is an excellent backup center, and power forward. Another of the young, talented Nuggets front line. He's a restricted free agent this year. Power Forward ------------- LaPhonso Ellis is rapidly becoming a big-time player for Denver at the power forward spot. Having been forced to step in and play from the start two years ago, Ellis is maturing into a go-to guy as the playoffs continued. From his rookie season to this year, Ellis has increased both the accuracy and range (up to 20ft) on his shot, opening up his game a lot. He's gotten stronger and developed more variety in his low post game, as he's able to score in a variety of ways there. He fills on the break very well and hustles all the time. Ellis is a tough rebounder, he works hard on both the offensive and defensive boards, complementing Mutombo. Defensively, Ellis is able to play with most power forwards, but some overpower him. One way for Ellis to improve for next year is to continue to get stronger, in both upper and lower body. He's able to hold his position in general, but sometimes gets pushed from his spot. Other improvements for Ellis would be free-throw shooting, and more work on establishing a two-man game with Denver's guards. In only his second year, Ellis has become one of the better young power forwards in the NBA, and an emotional leader for the young Nuggets. Brian Williams also gets playing time here (see Center). Backups at power forward for Denver include Tom Hammonds, sometimes Rodney Rogers (see Small Forward), and Mark Randall. Hammonds arrived as a free agent last season (drafted by Washington and traded to Charlotte, who cut him) and has provided solid backup in limited minutes for the Nuggets. He works hard, both practicing and playing, and his intensity on the court doesn't waver. He gets squeezed out of playing time by Ellis' and Brian Williams' emergence; knee troubles have slowed him down a bit, but he's always active on the boards and plays tough defense. Mark Randall is a "local boy made good," he's from the Denver suburbs (Cherry Creek) and Kansas. He came to Denver as a free agent (was originally drafted by Chicago) and managed to stick with the team for the season. Doesn't play much behind the others mentioned. Given more time to develop, he could be a valuable player to have on the team. Small Forward ------------- The Nuggets captain, Reggie Williams, is the veteran on the team, with 7 years NBA experience. A castoff by the LA Clippers and also by San Antonio, R.Williams has found a home in Denver. He's a steady, if unspectacular, scorer at 17+ppg with Denver (on 44% shooting). He's a good rebounder from his spot, at about 5rpg. R.Williams is a decent defender, able to guard both small forwards and big guards, as he swings to the backcourt for Denver. In Denver, R.Williams has improved his game, becoming a solid starter for the young Nuggets. He's got shooting range to the 3pt circle and drives to the basket reasonably well. In his 7th year in the league, he's the veteran leader on the floor. He's a consistent scorer and steals leader for Denver as well. R.Williams has a tendency to be either brilliant or inept at crucial times, sometimes hitting the big shot or making the big play, and/or then throwing away a pass or taking a bad shot. Overall, he's a valuable member of the Nuggets. Depending on how Rodney Rogers develops and how the Nuggets backcourt situation pans out, R.Williams could remain a starter or could be a valuable scorer off the bench. Rodney Rogers was the 9th pick overall in last year's draft, as an underclassman from Wake Forest. To the surprise of many, he fell to the Nuggets spot after being projected as a higher pick (was ACC Player of the Year as a junior). Rogers has had an inconsistent rookie year, struggling during the first half of the season, but then coming on during the second half of the season to demonstrate his talents. Denver had the luxury of not having to start, and play, Rogers a lot in his first year (unlike Ellis), and his playing time was initially minimal: R.Williams was playing well, and Rogers was struggling, making mistakes and (probably to his detriment) getting immediately pulled from the game. Starting Rogers for games and bringing in R.Williams from the bench didn't work well, and Rogers didn't see too much playing time. After the All-Star break, he seemed to understand better how the game was being played, and his minutes increased significantly. During the latter half of the season, Rogers was a consistent 20min/game player, and was contributing. His strengths are his shooting range and his play in the running game; he began to really fit well into the flow of the Nuggets halfcourt offense as well. Areas of improvement for Rogers would be his defense (as is true for virtually all rookies) and his concentration. Alot of Rogers' mistakes are mental, not physical. His rebounding ought to be better for a player with his size and strength. Rogers is a key element in the Nuggets future. Backups at Small Forward would include Kevin Brooks. Mark Randall and occasionally Tom Hammonds see time here, depending on the lineup (see Power Forward). Brooks is a 3rd year player acquired via the draft for the rights to Anthony Avent. He's never played much in Denver, appearing in about 2/3 of Nuggets games. He was a 20+ppg scorer in college who has had difficulty scoring in the NBA. Part of the lack of improvement is because of lack of playing time. Brooks will likely not be part of the Nuggets team next year. Shooting Guard -------------- Bryant Stith played what was really his first year this past season, as his rookie year was filled with injuries (broken foot and broken hand, missed more than half the season). Stith started the season coming off the bench, but quickly returned to the starting lineup and remained there. He's big and quick, physical enough to post up other guards and score as well as take on some small forwards, yet can step outside and score. Stith is a good defensive player, able to guard players all over the court. His strengths are his defensive play and ability to post up/drive to the basket/fill the lanes on the break offensively. He's always hustling and working hard, doing the little things that don't get noticed. Improvements for Stith would include being more decisive on offense, taking open jump shots more often. He also needs to increase his shooting range, and perhaps finish a bit better when fouled near the hoop. Stith is solid fundamentally at both ends of the court, and is a good foul shooter. He's definitely an important part of the Nuggets future. Darnell Mee was obtained last year via the draft, from Golden State, in exchange for the rights to Josh Grant. Mee is a solid defender, and is an average offensive threat. He broke his leg just past the midway point of the season, and rehabilitated it to make it back for the playoffs. He was a solid player at Western Kentucky, and among the leaders in steals nationally. Mee has shown flashes of good play in limited minutes. With Denver's uncertain situation at guard, and Mee's potential, he could very well be with the Nuggets next season. Backups at shooting guard are Reggie Williams, when he swings to the backcourt (see Small Forward), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (see Point Guard), and Alvin Robertson. Robertson has not played a game this season, due to a back injury. Point Guard ----------- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson) was the #3 pick in the draft four years ago. The past two seasons he's been Denver's scoring leader, at 18+ppg. MAR is at times an explosive scorer who can rack up points in a big hurry. He's a shooting guard in a point guard's body, and this mindset has hampered him at times in Denver. MAR is an adequate passer in the halfcourt set offense, and sometimes spectacular in the open court, but he doesn't drive to the basket often enough, which would open up both his offense and that of others. Defensively, MAR is easily pushed around due to his slight physical stature. He's tough and works hard, having overcome Tourette's Syndrome to prosper in his basketball career. He's a fantastic free throw shooter (NBA leader this past season), but a bit below par from the field (43%, 32% 3pt FG). Strengths for MAR are his ability to score any time, from most anywhere, and quickly. Improvements include his defense (there are times when he gives up after running through a series of picks), and his passing (averages about 3apg). MAR could become a very good sixth man off the Denver bench if his frame of mind allows it. He's been a starter, and the main scorer, for most of his basketball life. How he would take to coming off the bench is really an unknown. Though he is the subject of trade rumors, and would probably be a reasonably valuable commodity, he is an integral part of the Nuggets recent successes and would remain so in Denver. Robert Pack was a big reason the Nuggets did so well in the recent playoffs. He is a lightning bolt off the bench, entering the game and changing its complexion with increased pace and pressure. He flourishes in a passing game, and does well in the halfcourt, because he pushes the ball up the floor and can drive to the basket very well. Pack was undrafted out of college, but has proved he belongs in the NBA. In his third year, he's improved his field goal shooting each year, and became a legitimate 3pt threat throughout the playoffs. This has opened up his game, especially driving to the basket (where he sometimes finishes with spectacular dunks). Pack is very strong and quick, enabling him to put good defensive pressure on opposing guards. Though his pushing the ball upcourt is valuable to Denver, Pack still makes too many ill-advised decisions with the ball (he has a very high turnover-to-assist ratio). He must make better decisions with the ball in both the running game and the halfcourt offense. Pack is solid defensively and a hard charger who really gets Denver's offense going in the open court. Improvements would be better free throw shooting, continuing to make his outside shot a threat, and better decision making overall in the offense. Pack has shown he's a valuable member of the Nuggets team, and should remain with the Nuggets. Others at the point guard spot include Alvin Robertson, obtained in a trade with Detroit, who has not played a game this season due to a back injury. Selection: --------- B.J. Tyler, 6-1, 175, PG, University of Texas The Nuggets are looking for a player in the backcourt who can run the offense, both in the halfcourt and on the break, and being a big scorer is not crucial. Tyler's skills fit this scenario well. His shooting percentage is a bit low, part of that is probably due to him being the main option at Texas. His assists total rose each year, while his turnovers decreased each year. Tyler's scoring from the outside is enough to keep defenses honest. Tyler's off-court problems are noted (spent time at the John Lucas clinic), and are a concern. Actions of this nature would be closely watched by Nuggets management. Others Considered: ----------------- [Denver is not going to get the point guard they seek to step in and run their offense/direct the defense in the draft. For that to happen, it will be via a trade. But since we assume no trades or similar, ... (see Other Moves)] The Nuggets are looking for backcourt help, at both the point guard and shooting guard spots. At point guard, Melvin Booker is intriguing, and played well as a senior and at pre-draft camps. Howard Eisley and Charlie Ward are interesting; Eisley seems to handle pressure well, and Ward's recent play in the USBL (or was it the CBA?) was very promising. His style of play might fit well in Denver. Derrick Phelps was considered, his defense is good and he drives to the basket well. Phelps' size is also a plus, but isn't a big outside threat. Jalen Rose was considered, because of his size, ball-handling, and ability to play more than one position. His shooting is a big question mark (already drafted). At the shooting guard spot, a number of players were considered. Eddie Jones is a solid offensive player, and like most guards and forwards from Temple, plays good defense. Aaron McKie is a very tough player and has good range on his shot, and is a strong guard who can score inside. Will GM Bickerstaff's previous experience with a player from Temple (Mark Macon) enter into a decision here? Khalid Reeves blossomed as a senior, when Stoudamire ran the show at Arizona. He drives well to the basket, and plays good defense. Questions are his size shooting guard, and his ball-handling at point guard. Wesley Person was intriguing due to his shooting/scoring skills, but his defense is suspect (already drafted). Lamond Murray's scoring is enticing, but his defense is a question mark, and he'd probably be out of position in the backcourt (already drafted). Eric Piatkowski is a good scorer and has excellent range, and drives to the basket well. His quickness and defense are somewhat lacking. Who They'll Probably Take: ------------------------- The Nuggets will almost certainly go for a backcourt player, a point guard or shooting guard. If a point guard is chosen, it will likely come down to B.J. Tyler and perhaps Derrick Phelps. If Charlie Ward goes undrafted, he might get a shot as a free agent. If a shooting guard is chosen, the field is more wide open. Both Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie would fit in Denver. Khalid Reeves is also an interesting player, and just might be the choice here. Of all players mentioned (Tyler, Phelps, Jones, McKie, Reeves), any of them would be a good addition to the Denver backcourt. Denver is young and needs to find a few more puzzle pieces to continue their success. Via the draft, one puzzle piece will be a backcourt player. Other Moves: ----------- The Nuggets are looking to improve their backcourt, in particular at the point guard spot. Robert Pack demonstrated his improved play this past year, particularly in the playoffs, but remains too inconsistent and mistake-prone, at least at this juncture. One of Pack's greatest strengths is the change of pace he brings to the Nuggets offense from the bench. MAR could be traded for a player or a draft pick or a combination of both. Perhaps a better solution, if he could accept it, would be as a sixth man >from the bench. His explosive scoring would be valuable from the bench, and his weaknesses would not be exploited as much. MAR's situation is interesting and difficult: he's been a good player in Denver and a reason for their successes. He's also a liability defensively, and is not the point guard who can take the Nuggets to the next level. He's valuable as a scorer, most likely from the bench, but will be hard to trade for a young point guard because of his salary, because of what his role will likely be (bench scorer) and because of his possible unwillingness to come off the bench. Rumors abound regarding trading for a point guard to run the Nuggets on the floor. The names most often mentioned are Terrell Brandon, Bimbo Coles, Scott Skiles, Avery Johnson, Terry Porter and Pooh Richardson. Of these players, Brandon and Coles make the most sense, both player-wise and in terms of the salary cap. It is most likely that Denver will improve their backcourt by going this route, trading for Brandon or Coles, rather than acquiring help in the draft. A young NBA player, like Coles or Brandon, could be what the Nuggets need to take the next step in the NBA, as opposed to an untested rookie. This route, making a trade for a young point guard, is probably what Denver will do. Denver has the youngest team in the NBA, a very solid and tough front line, and decent players in the backcourt. They've really come together as a team in the recent playoffs, and breaking up the current mix might be detrimental. Should current players step up, and/or other players are obtained, adding to the mix and using Reggie Williams and MAR as bench strength could vault the Nuggets to the next step. Their confidence in their abilities as players, and as a team, is strong, and building on that is crucial for the Nuggets management. Any trades the Nuggets make must be carefully considered, as the current team is solid and play well together. Certainly Mutombo, Ellis and probably Stith are untouchable. If the Nuggets do try to trade, they'll likely trade for backcourt help. That probably means giving up some of their frontcourt depth. It would have to be a trade of great value for that to happen. Denver's priorities (in no order) for a trade: backcourt (point guard) help, another veteran presence, long-distance shooting. It won't likely happen all at once, but the pieces are falling into place. ====================================================================== Draft summary: 1. Milwaukee Bucks GM: Bobby Davis Pick: Glenn Robinson, PF, 6-8. Purdue University. 2. Dallas Mavericks GM: Theo Wendt Pick: Jason Kidd, PG, 6-4. Cal. 3. Detroit Pistons GM: Eric Iverson Pick: Grant Hill, SF, 6-8. Duke. 4. Minnesota Timberwolves GM's: Kevin Hansen Toni Morgan Pick: Donyell Marshall, SF, 6-9. Connecticut 5. Washington Bullets GM's: Jim Nagle The Crossjammer Pick: Juwan Howard, PF, 6-10. Michigan 6. Philadelphia 76ers GM's: Brent Halliburton Pick: Yinka Dare, C, 7-0. George Washington 7. Los Angeles Clippers GM: Paul Osmond Pick: Carlos Rogers, PF, 6-11. Tennessee State 8. Sacramento Kings GM's: Don Hearth Daniel W. Huang Pick: Clifford Rozier, PF, 6-9. Louisville 9. Boston Celtics GM: Ellie Cutler Pick: Lamond Murray, SF, 6-7. Cal 10. Los Angeles Lakers GM: Kosh Pick: Jalen Rose, SG, 6-8. Michigan 11. Seattle Sonics GM: Aaron Gill Pick: Wesley Person, SG, 6-6. Auburn 12. Miami Heat GM: Rob Clough Pick: Sharone Wright, C, 6-11. Clemson 13. Denver Nuggets GM's: Rick Grubin John Exby Pick: B.J. Tyler, PG, 6-1. Texas Next up: 14. New Jersey Nets GM: Matthew Mitchell

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner