DENVER (CBS4) – The NBA will hold its annual draft on Thursday and there’s no doubt what kind of player they’ll be looking for with the 22nd pick.

Head coach George Karl says he’s looking for a draft pick with high basketball IQ — someone who can play defense and rebound — someone who can stick the open jumper — and someone who makes his teammates better. What he’s looking for, he already has — Arron Afflalo.

Twenty-six teams passed on Afflalo in the 2007 draft. There were some anxious moments before the Detroit Pistons finally called his name.

“I was sitting in the stands with the fans at (Madison Square Garden) hearing my name called, high-fiving some fans, hugging my mom for like a second and just walking down,” Afflalo said. “It was a shock to me. I think I worked out for like eight or nine teams between 20 and 30 and the one team that I didn’t work out for, they picked me.”

Two years later the Pistons traded him to Denver for a second-round pick. It was an outright steal for the Nuggets. Afflalo has steadily improved his game ever since.

Afflalo is a basketball workaholic. He was the Pepsi Center last week working out with potential draft picks while most of his teammates are enjoying their offseason with rest.

“Didn’t want it, didn’t need it. I would just rather had been playing. I love the game so much, I love being around the gym,” he said. “But it’s time to look forward to next year. It’s just a repetitive cycle and I’m excited.”

Afflalo didn’t even watch the NBA Finals because it was too painful. But he did appreciate the style of play of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

“Probably that’s the way the game should be played — played together. Players should be allowed to step up and be themselves and just create a winning environment; and I though Dallas did that all year long.”

Afflalo wasn’t blessed with the smoothest jump shot; he had to work at it. Last year he was among the league’s most accurate 3-point shooters. His goal now is to become the go-to guy the Nuggets desperately need.

“I would like to take my game to a level where coach trusts me within those opportunities. I want to be prepared to deliver. That’s my focus every year — is to get better.”

He grew up in Compton, Calif. with his father, Danny. It was just the two of them and Afflalo says they were like best friends.

“My dad used to play the game for fun when I was growing up and just watching him helped me develop that passion and that love for the game. Giving me unconditional love and unconditional motivation to continue to want to get better.”

Photo Gallery: Nuggets Cheerleaders


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