DENVER (AP) — Trading down in the first round with Utah, the Denver Nuggets acquired Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon with the 24th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night and added veteran forward Trey Lyles from the Jazz.
The Nuggets entered the draft with the No. 13 overall pick, using it to select Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell, whose rights were then traded to Utah in return for the Jazz’s No. 24 pick and Lyles, who was the 12th overall pick out of Kentucky two years ago.
In his two seasons with the Jazz, Lyles has averaged 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds while playing primarily off the bench.
Lydon led Syracuse in rebounding (8.6 per game) and ranked second in scoring (13.2 points per game) last season, bringing another physical presence to the Nuggets’ front court.
The third-highest scoring team in the NBA last season, the Nuggets finished the year 40-42, placing ninth in the Western Conference to just miss the playoffs. But they struggled on the defensive end and envision Lyles and Lydon bolstering the Nuggets’ defensive presence around the rim.
“I could not be more happy, more excited about joining the organization, getting out there and playing, getting ready to work,” Lydon said in a conference call. “That’s what I’m about. I feel like my play fits with their team very well. My ability to stretch the floor and defend. They think I can become a great defender, which I truly believe myself, too.”
Tim Connelly, the Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, said the team was engaged in trade talks with other teams before pulling the trigger on the deal with the Jazz.
“We had a chance to add Trey Lyles, a guy we had in our top 10 two years ago,” Connelly said. “I thought he had an excellent rookie year, but last year he wasn’t able to build off that success. He had a changed role, a diminished role to some degree.”
The Nuggets believe Lyles has the capability to play both shooting forward and power forward and even move to center on occasion.
Connelly said Lydon also brings a degree of versatility at the forward positions and he’ll get a chance to show what he can do in the team’s summer league.
“We think there is such a dearth of two-position guys who can shoot and Lydon has a rare combination of shot-making, size and some rim protection,” Connelly said. “He’s a tireless worker and I think he’s willing to mix it up. He’ll be thrown into the fire in the summer league.”
With a pair of picks in the second round, the Nuggets drafted Slovenian forward Vlatko Cancar with the 49th pick and Iowa State point guard Monte Morris at No. 51.
Cancar is expected to continue his development overseas for a year, while the Nuggets plan to take a long look at Morris this summer to see where he fits in the team’s future.
Morris was an All-Big 12 first team selection as a senior and was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Big 12 Tournament.
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