Last night's NBA draft didn't look to be an eventful one with the Denver Nuggets, what with the team drafting way down at the number 22 position and the prospect of a lockout making franchises cautious about big trades. But the Nugs made a splash anyhow with the selection of Morehead State's Kenneth Faried -- a pick that's a literal slam dunk. But it's considerably tougher to get excited about the Raymond Felton-for-Andre Miller swap.
When Faried worked out for the Nuggets earlier this month, a lot of us tried to temper our excitement, since it seemed unlikely he'd still be available when it came time for the Nuggets to choose. After all, he set a modern NCAA record for rebounding, topping the total collected by no less a player than Tim Duncan -- and while it's true that Morehouse State doesn't always face the country's top teams, there's no doubt Faried would have dominated on the boards no matter where he played. Proof: His astonishing performance in Morehead State's upset of Louisville in this year's NCAA tournament.
As he showed in that contest, Faried is absolutely ferocious in pursuit of errant shots -- precisely what the Nugs need given the prospect of life without Kenyon Martin and, possibly, Nenê. And if Nenê stays, Faried could pick up the defensive slack, allowing Mr. Hilario to concentrate on continuing to improve his offensive game.
Bottom line: Faried could turn out to be one of the most valuable players in the entire NBA draft -- and someone Nuggets fans are going to love.
As for the Felton trade, we all knew it was going to happen. Felton is too young and talented to accept what would be a secondary role to Ty Lawson in Denver, and he clearly had trade value. But it's tough to get overly enthusiastic about the return of Andre MIller. As we know from his previous stint in Denver, he's capable of being a legit scorer. But he can also have nights where his turnover numbers exceed his point total -- and he's beginning to show his age. The idea, no doubt, is that he serve as a solid backup as he mentors Lawson, and that makes sense. But that's modest solace for those of us who thrilled at the Lawson-Felton one-two punch last season.
Of course, the Nuggets also got another player in this deal (not counting a future second-round pick): Texas' Jordan Hamilton, picked 26th. And he's not just a toss-in. He's got good size, a nice shooting touch, and he's been tested under fire against some of the nation's strongest programs. He could become a useful role player -- and while the Nuggets don't have any shortage of those, depth is one of the main ways the Nugs will be able to compete with superstar-laden opponents. And it'll be fun to watch him on the court against Alec Burks of CU, who was selected by the Utah Jazz.
With that in mind, the Nuggets enjoyed a surprisingly positive draft night -- one worth celebrating by checking out the videos of Faried and Hamilton below.
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More from our Sports archive: "Alec Burks, former CU Buffs guard, looks to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft."