Nuggets general manager: Don’t expect too much from No. 11 pick

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By draft night, the class of 2014 – once hailed as the best in a decade – will be reduced to a collection of has beens and never weres. Maybe the Cavaliers will be fortunate enough to snag a bit player at No. 1.

Every year, we go through this process.

Draft classes are described reasonably – in this case, as a strong one. Then, a subset of NBA general managers demean the talent pool.

If one were skeptical, one might say the league executives are only trying to downplay expectations so it doesn’t look as bad if they draft a bust. If one were skeptical.

Up to the plate now is Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly.

Connelly, via Nicki Jhabvala The Denver Post:

“I think we’re honest with ourselves, the 11th pick on a team that should be in the playoffs generally doesn’t have a huge impact from Day 1,” he said. “Very few rookies had any impact this year on playoff teams. As our roster is presently constituted, who knows how we’re going to look after the draft. I think it’s unfair to put too much emphasis on the 11th pick.”

Here are 11 players in no particular order

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Jabari Parker
  • Joel Embiid
  • Dante Exum
  • Marcus Smart
  • Noah Vonleh
  • Julius Randle
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Gary Harris
  • James Young

The Nuggets are guaranteed a chance to pick at least one of those players. And if they don’t select one of them, it’s because they deem someone else more valuable. I’d say that’s a pretty strong position.

Not all of those 11 will succeed in the NBA, but relative to other draft classes, that’s an impressive top 11.

And Connelly probably shouldn’t worry too much about Day 1. Denver is on the outside looking in of next year’s playoff race no matter who falls to No. 11. A rookie needing a little time to adjust to the NBA is hardly a reason not to emphasize a lottery pick in this draft.

The Nuggets should draft whomever projects to be the best player long term, and if they do that right, they’ll have a valuable piece and won’t have to hedge in the media.