NUGGETS

Latest ESPN mock predicts the Nuggets go big in first round

May 31, 2024, 1:02 PM

The Denver Nuggets are in pretty desperate need of frontcourt help, taxing Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon very heavily the last few seasons. With unreliable or older players behind them, Michael Malone rode his three-time MVP and steady partner and it may have cost the Nuggets in the long term as they looked exhausted in defeat.

Malone’s big options have been so unreliable off the bench that he’s gone to starting power forward Gordon as the backup center in the last two playoff runs. It was hoped Zeke Nnaji would eventually become a contributor but he still remains a mystery. DeAndre Jordan is a free agent toward the end of his career and Malone has been hesitant about using the former All-Star. There’s also Peyton Watson, a young player who didn’t see much action in 2023 but broke out in 2024. Still, Watson wasn’t part of the playoff rotation in the end and he’s more of a tall wing than a big. Some of these lineups have moved starting small forward Michael Porter Jr. to power forward, diminishing one of the Nuggets greatest strengths—size.

All of this is to say is that top among Clavin Booth’s things to do this offseason is add some more frontcourt depth and preferably somebody who can crack the playoff rotation.

Enter Dayton Flyers big DaRon Holmes II. The 6-foot-10 Arizona native just wrapped up his junior season in the A-10 where he averaged a 30th-best in the country 20.4 points with 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. He hit a three-a-game on a much-improved 39% shooting.

The Flyers made the second round of the NCAA Tournament this spring, going 71-31 in Holmes’ three-year college career playing for Anthony Grant.

ESPN mocked Holmes to the Nuggets with the 28th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

As the early withdrawal date passed, the prospects are locked in for the draft and ESPN reports that Holmes has been canceling workouts with the suspicions that somebody near the end of the first round has guaranteed that they will pick him.

ESPN’s Jeremy Woo says the pre-draft process has been kind to Holmes and that his college experience matches the Nuggets philosophy in the recent selections of Christian Braun, Collin Gillespie and Julian Strawther.

Denver is also in need of another ballhandler and could be tasked with replacing starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if he decides to go. Braun and Strawther would seemingly be the answer for that spot but it may leave the Nuggets more in need of guard depth than a frontcourt player.

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Latest ESPN mock predicts the Nuggets go big in first round