Grizzlies.gif (6914 bytes) Picking 23rd is the Denver Nuggets and their GM is Thad Williamson.   This pick came in the trade from the Phoenix Suns in the Antonio McDyess trade.  Denver also had the 3rd pick in the 1998 draft.

The Nuggets Select Miles Simon, SG, 6-4, Arizona

I. Scouting Report

Nowhere to go but up--that's about the best that can be said for the Nuggets, who rode a toxic mixture of wet behind the air rookies and marginal-caliber veterans to the third-worst record in NBA history in '98. The only real accomplishment Denver could claim in '98 was knocking the Wizards out of the playoffs, as it turned out, with a springtime win in D.C. On top of that, the team's most talented veteran, Laphonso Ellis, is a free agent this summer after six up and down years in the mile high city.

Where to begin reconstructing? Plan A would obviously be to land a high profile coach who will not tolerate losing attitudes and can attract quality veteran free agents. Phil Jackson and George Karl could fit that bill, but each would demand a megacontract with guarantees to step into this situation.

In the meantime, the goal is to put together building blocks for the future. Without Ellis in tow for next year, the strongest position on paper appear to be big forward, with Danny Fortson and Tony Battie returning for their second seasons and proven rebounder Eric Williams returning from injury. At point guard, Bobby Jackson remains a credible starter to at least take this team back to mediocrity, especially if he can improve his shot selection. The center position features long-term contract holder Dean Garrett, who would be a nice backup player, and behemoth project Priest Lauderdale, who has one more year to prove he can play in this league. Bryant Stith is a decent player at shooting guard and will be called upon to provide leadership in turning this thing around. Small forward is a complete vacuum,with Johnny Newman as well as Ellis free agents.

Newman had a decent season and might be worth resigning for another year if no better options at 3 become available and Ellis leaves. Of the other free agents, Alexander, Goldwire, and Washington all made a case for them selves as credible reserves at guard. Nonetheless, the inclination here would be to pick and choose between Alexander and Goldwire as the backup PG and let Washington, he of the 40% FG mark, render his services elsewhere. The other two free agents, Harold Ellis and Wolf,  are suited to do no more than fill out the roster, although perhaps Wolf can lend a hand as team babysitter too.

II. Biggest Needs

Hope, credibility, defense, and outside shooting.

III. Who I picked at #23 and why

Miles Simon, SG, 6-4, Arizona

The team needs for the Nuggets I had in mind with this pick were outside shooting, mental toughness, and ability to create offense.

I would have picked Harpring had he been available at #23 on the basis of the kind of team player he is. Instead, the choice came down to Simon or Drew. Drew is all but certain to be the next Steve Kerr and would be quite an asset on a strong team. With the Nuggets, I'm not sure he'd be able to get a shot off. I like Simon's ability to create off the dribble, the fact that he has the rarely seen mid-range game (i.e. 15 footer off the dribble, like Jordan hit to beat Utah), and think that his renown cockiness could be an asset in Denver if the right coach is on hand to harness it towards team goals. Say what you want about this guy, but he did win the national title, as the key player. I see Simon as the higher risk, higher payoff pick, but am going with my gut. I would expect him to contribute 20-25 minutes a game as a rookie, and by his third year to be the starter and a 15 ppg or better scorer.

IV. Others Considered

Others I considered: Bryce Drew, Sam Jacobson, Shammond Williams, CC Harrison, Corey Carr.

Of the others, Shammond would be great to have on the offensive end, one of the few players (Drew being another) with legit NBA 3 range, and while he's put up good stats in the camps I still wonder about his ability to cover NBA guards. One of his tormentors in the ACC, Harrison, I never understand why he doesn't get more credit, isn't even on the draft boards. He could be a hell of a defensive player in the NBA and obviously can shoot.

Jacobson is intriguing but has been out of control every time I've seen him play. I like what I've seen of Corey Carr too but he doesn't have the creative ability I see in Simon. I didn't consider Toby Bailey or Jeff Sheppard seriously though they were on the radar screen.

V. Whom I think they will pick

Probably one of the players mentioned here, Harpring included--IF they get the big player they want at #3. If they wind up with a Carter or Pierce at #3, all those guys get thrown out and one looks at the big guys available here, such as Sesay or McCoy.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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