In just a few hours, the Denver Nuggets are likely to be on the clock, making one of their three selections in the 2023 NBA Draft.

After making a trade to acquire a first round pick on Wednesday, the Nuggets now have the 29th, 32nd, and 37th selections in tonight’s festivities. That could certainly change, and with general manager Calvin Booth at the helm, it probably will. After having success in the draft last year, Booth and the Nuggets front office are hard at work trying to maximize the team’s resources to put together the best possible roster next year. Whether that means drafting young players or adding veterans, Booth made all of the right moves last season on the way to the team’s first championship in franchise history.

Unfortunately, there’s no rest coming for the Nuggets, who will have to be at their best again on draft night. This is one of the few opportunities the Nuggets have to add talent to a championship contending roster. Perhaps selecting three players will be too many, but combining those picks to move up in the draft is also a possibility. The Nuggets will explore all avenues to get better.

In the meantime, here are 10 players the Nuggets will consider drafting this year:

Cason Wallace – Guard, Kentucky

  • Vitals: 6’2.5″ without shoes, 6’8.5″ wingspan, 195 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 14th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 19th via ESPN

Analysis: While the Denver Nuggets don’t have a pick in the teens, something that ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote in his latest mock draft caught my eye.

The newly crowned NBA champions continued to be extremely active in the trade market, using the No. 40 pick and a 2024 first-rounder to acquire this selection as well as the No. 32 pick. This now leaves them with three selections on draft night (Nos. 29, 32 and 37) after a separate trade they made with Oklahoma City. It doesn’t appear the Nuggets are done here, as general manager Calvin Booth could continue to be aggressive looking to move up the board, potentially packaging picks for a talented player he covets.

The Nuggets having three draft picks between the ranges of 29 and 37 feels ripe for an opportunity to move even higher in the draft. There will be other teams hoping to trade down, and if the right player falls to a spot Denver would like to move up to, then there’s a potential match to be made.

With Bruce Brown possibly departing in free agency, the Nuggets must have a contingency plan. What better player to add to the roster than one of the best defensive guards in the draft? Cason Wallace might have flaws in his game, but what he’s most likely to bring to the NBA level is defensive impact. Vecenie notes that Wallace has All-Defense potential and is a versatile defender despite standing at under 6’3″ without shoes. He makes up for it with strength, anticipation, a great wingspan, and intangibles that can’t be measured.

On the offensive end, Wallace isn’t seen as a primary ball handler, but on the Nuggets, he wouldn’t have to be. As long as Wallace can handle the occasional pick and roll, read the floor offensively, cut when he needs to, and hit outside shots, he has a great shot at being a rotation player for the Nuggets sooner rather than later. Wallace averaged 11.7 points and 4.3 assists per game at Kentucky, a program notorious for high level one-and-done guards like Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, Tyler Herro, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Maxey, and more.

It’s unlikely that Wallace is on the board when Denver selects, but if there’s actual discussion about the Nuggets moving up in the draft, why not add the player that’s closest to reprising Bruce Brown’s role?

Leonard Miller – Forward, G League Ignite

  • Vitals: 6’9.25″ without shoes, 7’2″ wingspan, 213 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 13th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 27th via ESPN

Analysis: After declaring for the draft last year but deciding to go to the G League Ignite instead, I wrote about Miller at Denver Stiffs. It was clear then how raw Miller was and how much more seasoning he needed. In the last year, Miller developed into an interesting player for the Ignite roster, showcasing high level ball handling, touch around the rim, playmaking, and rebounding. His shooting is raw, and his defense remains a question mark, but it’s clear that he’s extremely talented and wants to get better.

The Nuggets would likely have to trade up for Miller as well, but he’s a different kind of prospect, somebody more in the mold of Peyton Watson who’s extremely talented but needs a year in the G League or getting less meaningful NBA reps. Miller’s not going to be ready immediately, but he does fit the mold of a plus athlete capable of seeing the floor and making some incredible plays. Perhaps that’s worth Denver using resources now if they believe they can get Miller up to speed quickly.

Miller’s not a shooter, but for a Nuggets team that plans to defend, rebound, and run with their second unit, Miller is at least a player to think about.

Kris Murray – Forward, Iowa

  • Vitals: 6’7.75″ without shoes, 6’11.75″ wingspan, 213 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 14th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 19th via ESPN

Analysis: Brother of Keegan Murray drafted fourth overall by the Sacramento Kings last year, Kris Murray is another prototypical 3&D forward that projects to translate to a role player in the NBA. His three-point shooting dipped down to 33.5% from distance last season, but he still averaged over 20 points per game in his junior year. The previous season as a role player, Murray shot nearly 39% from distance.

Finding plug-and-play forwards with enough size and athleticism to hang at the NBA level can be exceedingly difficult. Murray doesn’t have the upside of a more dynamic playmaker or post scorer, but the Nuggets don’t need that. They need capable role players who can space the floor for the two-man game between Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. If Kris Murray can continue improving that outside jump shot, he projects to be the exact kind of role player the Nuggets need on their bench. His defense is good enough and versatile enough to hang, though he’s not dynamic on that end.


Dariq Whitehead – Wing, Duke

  • Vitals: 6’5.75″ without shoes, 6’10.25″ wingspan, 217 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 20th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 30th via ESPN

Analysis: Perhaps the most intriguing pick in the second half of the first round is Dariq Whitehead. He was a consensus top recruit before sustaining a foot injury last August that required surgery and delayed his season at Duke. He’s having a second surgery on that foot and will be out for Summer League as a result, and teams are at least showing some concern about the health. As a result, a former top player in the draft class has slid to the back of the first round in mock drafts, and the Nuggets could very well be a team to take advantage.

Whitehead shot nearly 43% from three-point range during his lone season at Duke. He was known more as a 1-on-1 scorer before college but adapted his game on the fly. The shotmaking was really impressive, and there might be more to unlock from his game. Whitehead only averaged 8.3 points per game at Duke, but it’s difficult to put a ceiling on what he can do as a scorer given that he was a late arrival to a premiere program.

If Whitehead’s medicals check out, he’s a really interesting buy low candidate. The athleticism he lost from his injuries might come back, and it might not. He needs to do more than just score at the NBA level, but he could be a solid defender as well. Whitehead will take time, and that’s probably why Denver won’t pick him if he’s available. Still, there’s reason to believe he could meet the Peyton Watson mold of a one-year project that yields impressive results sooner than later.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. – Wing/Forward, UCLA

  • Vitals: 6’6″ without shoes, 6’9.5″ wingspan, 226 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 23rd via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 23rd via ESPN

Analysis: Jaime Jaquez is a four-year player at UCLA who won Pac-12 Player of the Year for an impressive all-around campaign. He was mostly a scorer and rebounder but contributed in other ways, often specializing in mismatch hunting in post-up and isolation situations. Jaquez put together an impressive tournament run and showed off a diverse interior scoring game utilizing pick and roll frequently, something that he may not get to show a ton of at the NBA level but could prove useful in spurts. Jaquez projects as a small role player capable of doing a variety of things on the offensive end of the floor. His shooting touch is a bit suspect, but if he can extend his range, there’s a clearly defined role in the NBA as a small forward.

Calvin Booth has trended toward more athletic options off the bench, but there’s utility for a glue guy on the offensive end that can do a bit of everything while making good decisions. With Christian Braun and Peyton Watson projecting as the defensive wings of the future, perhaps there’s room for an offensive minded wing that can still hang defensively in a team concept. Teams will go after Jaquez in 1-on-1 situations defensively, but if the UCLA product can hang, he’s a great fit for the Nuggets bench to assist offensively.

Colby Jones – Wing, Xavier

  • Vitals: 6’4.5″ without shoes, 6’8″ wingspan, 199 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 27th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 36th via ESPN

Analysis: If there’s a role player in this draft that feels like a good bench option for a team established with stars, it’s Colby Jones. He has great instincts and touch around the rim when he can navigate to open space, and his outside shot appears solid enough to be a threat at the NBA level. Jones is a smart passer that can consistently make plays for others, and his ability to navigate inside the arc helps create windows of opportunity for teammates. He’s also a solid defender who competes hard and is rarely out of position. For a team looking to add capable options to their bench, Jones makes plenty of sense. Jones isn’t a great athlete though, and his ability to create shots for himself consistently is at least questionable if he can’t get to the floater.

The Nuggets have prioritized athletes and defensive-minded wings. Jones is close to Christian Braun in terms of style in that he can do a bunch of little things to stay impactful even when the jumper isn’t falling. That’s a swing skill at the NBA level for him. If Jones can shoot, the Nuggets should be interested. If he can’t, there are probably better options out there.


Ben Sheppard – Wing, Belmont

  • Vitals: 6’5.25″ without shoes, 6’7.75″ wingspan, 195 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 28th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 29th via ESPN

Analysis: Ben Sheppard is fairly similar to Jones in a variety of ways in his projected role for a team. They’re about the same size and have similar baselines for their games. Sheppard is the better, more dynamic scorer than Jones, who’s the more refined passer.

Sheppard’s size and shooting on the wing makes plenty of sense in a backup role. He shot above 40% on catch-and-shoot threes, doing so in spot-up and pull-up situations, even coming off of screens on occasion. He has a high release and is confident in the shot, though there’s some cause for concern on his project-ability as a career sub 70% free throw shooter. Still, the shooting numbers are impressive and deserve to be credited.

Sheppard isn’t a great athlete by NBA standards and may struggle to handle the physicality and pace. His defense is good, but it’s not great, and that combined with athleticism questions could put him in difficult positions guarding top level players. Perhaps that won’t matter when playing next to wing defenders like Braun and Watson in Denver, but it’s a little bit different from Jaquez, who could certainly hold up in his matchups and can do more offensively.

I’m a bit skeptical of Sheppard, but like Jones, he fits the mold of a wing that could bolster Denver’s roster long term.

Andre Jackson Jr. – Wing, UCONN

  • Vitals: 6’5.5″ without shoes, 6’9.75″ wingspan, 198 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 29th via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 33rd via ESPN

Analysis: Andre Jackson Jr. appears to be the darling of #NuggetsDraftTwitter. With a versatile skill set on both ends and a high level understanding while reading the floor, many see Jackson as a prototypical Nugget. He’s described as a winner with elite feel for the game, knows where to be and how to always make a positive impact. His passing vision is high level, and his cutting is top notch. Oh, and he’s an elite defender with elite physical tools too.

The only question marks are scoring and shooting. He averaged just 6.7 points on a 14.4% usage rate in 29 minutes per game. Jackson shot 29% from three and 70% from the free throw line for his college career, and it’s clear that scoring just isn’t going to be where he makes his mark at the NBA level. The fact that he’s even being considered for a first round pick shows how dynamic the non-scoring aspects of his game are.

In Denver, there’s proof of concept that versatile wings without a ton of offensive game can still be effective; however, there’s a certain threshold players have to reach. At times, Braun was unplayable last year due to his lack of outside shooting. When Bruce Brown went through poor stretches, the Nuggets bench offense struggled to function. Denver needs to have some players on the wing that can score. As awesome as they’d be on the defensive end, can they afford a trio of Braun, Watson, and Jackson offensively?

It’s a fair question, but given that the Nuggets have multiple picks in this range, spending one on a dynamic defender, cutter, and passer isn’t a bad idea.

Sidy Cissoko – Wing/Forward, G League Ignite

  • Vitals: 6’5.5″ without shoes, 6’9.75″ wingspan, 224 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 32nd via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 41st via ESPN

Analysis: Sidy Cissoko is a unique prospect with an impressive frame and athleticism on the wing. He has a powerful build and kind of reminded me of Zion Williamson in some of his G League highlight clips with his ability to either grab and go or finish above the rim. He’s obviously not close to the physical phenom that Zion is, but having a player on the wing with that kind of skill set and tools is certainly intriguing. There’s a lot to like on the defensive end as a Jae’Sean Tate type of big body that can switch onto a variety of players and never be overwhelmed physically.

Cissoko can grab and go in transition and drive the length of the floor, creating for himself and others. He’s a flashy passer who likes to have fun, and when he gets moving, he’s a freight train that players will make business decisions against. If he can continue tightening his handle and refining his role as a scorer, there’s real untapped potential here. The outside shooting will also be a big deal. Like many of the role player types on the wing, if he doesn’t shoot it, Cissoko will be a struggle to see the floor.

Still, it’s not difficult to envision Cissoko finding a role in Denver long term. He’s a cerebral player who competes hard and has the athleticism the Nuggets want in between Murray and Jokić. Whether he develops into that helpful version of himself remains to be seen.

Jordan Walsh – Forward, Arkansas

  • Vitals: 6’5.75″ without shoes, 7’1.75″ wingspan, 204 pounds
  • Prospect Rank: 41st via The Athletic Big Board
  • Mock Position: 40th via ESPN

Analysis: Finally, another unique prospect in Jordan Walsh, who projects as one of the most impactful defenders in the draft class. Walsh is a dynamic athlete with an elite frame that he uses well on the defensive end, switching across all five positions. He makes constant plays on that end of the floor and projects to be a very disruptive defender, whether he’s the back line defender in the pick and roll or defending on the ball himself.

Finding a role for Walsh on the offensive end is more difficult. He’s not quite the short corner option that an Aaron Gordon is, and he’s not a great shooter or creator on the perimeter. Walsh is a bit of a roamer who can do some things on occasion but wasn’t able to provide a consistent role on that end, hitting under 28% of his threes in his lone season at Arkansas and posting more turnovers than assists. Walsh is a good putback rebounder and hustler though, and he’s smart. Good teams will find a way to make that work.

There’s enough positional overlap with Peyton Watson that the Nuggets might decide to go a different direction, but Walsh is exactly the kind of high level defender and athlete the Nuggets have been seeking. How he fits in is a different matter, but he’s clearly good and would add to Denver’s group in unique ways.