NUGGETS

Nuggets trade up in first round to draft their guy DaRon Holmes II

Jun 26, 2024, 8:31 PM | Updated: 8:43 pm

The Denver Nuggets had been eyeing DaRon Holmes II for months and on Wednesday they traded up to No. 22 to land their guy in the 2024 NBA Draft

The Nuggets moved up from No. 28, using No. 56 and two future second-round picks in a deal with the Phoenix Suns to get Dayton’s big man. Holmes also efforted in getting to Denver, stopping his pre-draft workouts because the Nuggets promised to pick him.

The 6-foot-10 Arizona native exits school after 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 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 under Anthony Grant.

Both ESPN and The Ringer had Holmes to the Nuggets with the 28th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

The Ringer describes Holmes as, a “Throwback big who can block shots and finish lobs, with the benefit of modern switchability.” They say he can be what Zeke Nnaji has failed to become thus far in the NBA. Holmes’ large amount of college experience also matches that of recent Nuggets picks Christian Braun, Collin Gillespie and Julian Strawther, hitting that he may match Booth’s philosophy there too.

The Nuggets were in more desperate need of frontcourt help, as they’ve taxed 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 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.

The Nuggets need size and depth this offseason, so Holmes is a great fit.

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