As you may all know by now, it’s too easy to build a title contending team in the best and most difficult league in world basketball, as some of those franchises that have spent decades trying to win the Larry O’Brien still don’t have one to brag about in their trophy cases.
One of those historic franchises that have never been able to put a ring on the finger of their players is the Denver Nuggets, and even though they’ve managed to make a lot of noise in the regular season, they’ve always come short of the goal come crunch time.
Of course, future seems really bright for the Nuggets with the young and balanced squad they’re building right now around Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris, but even after some steals like those two, you just can’t forget the fact that they’ve made terrible mistakes in prior NBA Drafts.
Drafting is key for success and after making some of the mistakes the Nuggets have committed through history, you could start to understand why on earth a franchise with that much history hasn’t been able to reach the ultimate stage.
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 5 Draft mistakes the Denver Nuggets have made through history.
5. Doug McDermott (11th pick) – 2014 NBA Draft
Doug McDermott was actually never a Denver Nuggets pick, as it was supposed to be a Bulls player all along, with the Bulls sending both Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic to Denver in exchange of the sharpshooter out of Creighton University (they should also be regretting this move, tbh).
McDermott never suited up for the Nuggets and even though he’s still got a lot of time to blossom as the prolific scorer everybody hoped he’d be, he’s not nearly as good as we all expected, and the Nuggets could’ve used that pick to take Dario Saric, Zach LaVine or Jordan Clarkson.
4. Maurice Martin (16th pick) – 1986 NBA Draft
The Denver Nuggets trusted Maurice Martin out of Saint Joseph’s University back then in 1986, as the Small Forward looked like at a steal at the time considering his so-called ability to provide a lot of scoring from the wing.
Needless to say, Martin was nothing but a huge flop, only lasting for 2 full NBA seasons with averages of just 3 points in merely over 37% from the field and 21% from deep, while the Nuggets could’ve landed Scott Skiles, Mark Price, Drazen Petrovic or even Dennis Rodman instead.
3. Nikoloz Tskitishvili (5th pick) – 2002 NBA Draft
Nikoloz was a bright example of a promising European player that’s just not good enough to make the adjustment to the NBA level, as the forward was never even able to establish himself anywhere, spending 4 NBA seasons in 5 different franchises despite being drafted 5th overall out of Georgia.
But, what makes Tskitishvili’s pick even worse is the fact that 2002 was extremely loaded with talent, and how different things would’ve fared for the Nuggets had they gone with Nene Hilario, Amar’e Stoudemire, Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, or Carlos Boozer instead.
2. Tony Battie (5th pick) – 1997 NBA Draft
Battie had a subpar NBA career playing for 6 different franchises as a mediocre big man off the bench, and he wasn’t even in Denver for much time, only lasting 1 full season before being dealt to the Boston Celtics.
Tony was a terrible shooter and extremely slow in both ends of the floor, and there’s absolutely no clue why on earth they would get him that high. Besides, they passed on the chance of getting Tracy McGrady and Stephen Jackson to get a really bad player.
1. Raef LaFrentz (3rd pick) – 1998 NBA Draft
And last but not least, the biggest mistake the Denver Nuggets have made through their history in the Draft night has to be drafting Lafrentz 3rd overall in 1998, one of the most talent-loaded Drafts in the history of this game.
LaFrentz was okay for a substitute big man, but he was only in Denver for 3 seasons, missing 70 games of his rookie year. But what has to be making fans completely lose their minds about this terrible pick, is the fact that they could’ve have Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Jason Williams, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis, or even Dirk Nowitzki for Christ’s sake.