The Denver Nuggets landed three players in last Thursday’s 2014 NBA draft after a mid-first-round trade with the Chicago Bulls. The Nuggets selected Creighton small forward Doug McDermott at No. 11, but dealt him to the Bulls in exchange for the No. 16 and 19 picks, which they used on Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic and Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris. They picked Nikola Jokic, from Serbia, with the 41st pick.
Here are four things to know about the Nuggets’ draft:
1. The Nuggets landed two European centers in Thursday’s draft, both 6 foot 11. But Nurkic and Jokic are still shorter than three other Nuggets players — centers Timofey Mozgov, at 7 foot 1, and JaVale McGee, and forward Jan Vesely, both 7 feet tall. Many draft watchers said the Nuggets needed a center badly. Still, CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore graded the Nuggets’ pick just a C-.
2. The Nuggets’ best draft-day acquisition might have been Aaron Afflalo, a one-time Nugget traded to Denver from Orlando on Thursday. Afflalo, 28, who played for the Nuggets for three seasons before spending the last two as the Magic’s leading scorer, will certainly start at shooting guard this season. His backup? It’s likely Harris.
3. The Nuggets added some international flavor to their roster. Nuggets fans might recall, warily, another international first-round pick in Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Drafted at No. 5 in 2002, the 7-foot center is widely considered one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. But this season the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat with a roster chockfull of foreign players, including Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. So, there’s precedent for misery and euphoria.
4. Harris, who left Michigan State as a sophomore, is listed as 6-foot-4. He’s not. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he’s 6-2 1/2 inches without shoes and a couple inches taller with them.
“It’s good we don’t play barefoot,” Harris said, according to the paper.
Whether that’s a joke or not, the Nuggets likely aren’t laughing. A 6-foot-2 shooting guard is rather short.
“He’s not 6-4. He played 6-3, he measured 6-2. And how many good 6-2 shooting guards are there in the NBA?” asked CBSSports.com’s NBA analysts on Thursday night. The answer: Not many. “That’s how you go from being a top 10 pick to barely being in the top 20,” they said. Harris, though, is considered one of the best shooters in the draft.
Harris, at 210 pounds, averaged 16.7 pounds for the Spartans this season.