Five power forwards Nuggets fans need to know in the 2022 NBA Draft

Feb 11, 2022; Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; Colorado State Rams guard David Roddy (21) reacts with guard Isaiah Stevens (4) after the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Moby Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets traded JaMychal Green on Monday, and there are some question marks within the Nuggets forward rotation ahead of draft time.

Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon are expected to be next season’s starters, while Zeke Nnaji is expected to step into a more permanent rotation role during the 2022-23 season. Beyond that? There’s a lot of uncertainty. Jeff Green has a player option and may or may not be back with the team next season. Vlatko Čančar is a free agent and might be gone.

The Nuggets have a lot of flexibility entering the 2022 NBA Draft, and with two first round draft picks at 21st and 30th overall, there’s a strong possibility that another power forward could be selected. But who?

Mile High Sports 2022 NBA Draft articles

2022 NBA Draft Big Board

Mock Drafts from the experts

Shooting Guards | Small Forwards

Let’s take a closer look at some power forwards the Nuggets could take a look at in the 2022 NBA Draft.


Tari Eason | Forward | LSU

Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’8″, Weight: 217 lbs, Wingspan: 7’2″

2021-22 per game stats: 24.4 minutes, 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 3.0 steals + blocks, 56.4 two-point %, 35.9 three-point %, 80.3 free throw %

Expected Draft Range: Late Lottery, middle first round

What happened last season: After transferring from Cincinnati to LSU following his freshman season, Tari Eason came off the bench for the Tigers despite clearly being their best player. He led the team in scoring as a 6’8″ bench forward, a fairly rare feat. Eason also excelled as a defensive playmaker, accumulating 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks in an absurdly low 24.4 minutes per game for those numbers. The Tigers were good, not great, making the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round to Iowa State.

Expected NBA role: Eason projects as a defensive minded big wing/forward that every NBA team hopes to add to their playoff rotation. His length and athleticism helped him out massively at LSU, and his penchant for making defensive plays seems like a trait that will translate to the NBA. Most of his offensive opportunities are likely to come on cuts, offensive rebounds, and in transition as a complementary forward, but he has some ball handling capabilities driving with his right hand (not his left). There’s a possibility that he has Jerami Grant-like growth as a scorer and playmaker throughout his career.

Swing skill: At this stage, Eason is an elite finisher around the rim with his right hand and a complete zero with his left. His drives are almost all right handed, and he often finds a way to shoot with his right hand even if a left handed shot is far more optimal. His versatility as a scorer with likely define whether he’s a starter or bench player at the next level. Most expect him to figure some things out, but he’s behind in his development on that front.

Is Eason a good fit? From a physical standpoint, there are few prospects in the draft, if any, that fit with the Nuggets as well as Eason. The athletic forward has the tools and defensive playmaking the Nuggets are looking for, and Nikola Jokić can make it work offensively with just about anyone.

There would be concerns with Eason’s immediate ability to be helpful due to some concerns about his basketball IQ and reading the floor. A simplified role makes sense though, and if he happens to drop to the 21st pick, the Nuggets shouldn’t hesitate to select him. Very few prospects enter the draft with his level of defensive playmaking.

Nikola Jović | Forward | Mega Basket

Draft Age: 19, Height: 6’11”, Weight: 223 lbs, Wingspan: 7’0.25″

2021-22 per game stats: 28.6 minutes, 12.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals + blocks, 51.0 two-point %, 31.5 three-point %, 71.8 free throw %

Expected Draft Range: Middle to late first round

What happened last season: The name will draw some comparisons to Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokić, and the comparisons don’t stop there. Nikola JOVIĆ is a 6’11” Serbian player with high quality passing skills. He played for Mega Basket, Jokić’s old stomping ground where he eventually became MVP of the Adriatic League in 2014-15. Jović was also successful during the 2021-22 season, showcasing a versatile offensive skill set, though his defense does leave a lot to be desired.

Expected NBA role: Offense rules in the NBA during the regular season, and for that reason, it’s not hard to see Jović becoming a rotation level player with some potential to become more in the right situation. At just 19 years old, Jović is a bit of a blank slate offensively. Though he isn’t a primary ball handler, he can create some offense off the dribble for himself and others. He isn’t going to be shutting opposing players down though, which is why a bench forward role (with maybe some small ball center in his future as his frame fills out) makes the most sense.

Swing skill: Right now, Jović’s three-point shot is a work in progress. He has some good moments, especially when he’s in rhythm and confident. Most of the time though, he shoots with below average efficiency. If he can turn into a consistent 38% three-point shooter or better, he’s going to have some staying power as a starter for his career. Standing at 6’11” already, his jumper is hard enough to contest already. Forcing opponents to respect his jumper will allow the rest of his offensive playmaking skill set to shine.

Is Jović a good fit? From a name standpoint? Of course. Forming a Serbian connection with Jokić? Absolutely. In reality though, a 6’11” offensive-minded forward is pretty low on Denver’s list of needs right now. The Nuggets badly need defensive contributors, and the players that are most likely to play in a rotation featuring Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. are the guys that contribute defensively. That isn’t Jović right now, and maybe ever. The Nuggets would have to be really confident in his offense to take a chance, and even then, he’s young. It’s going to take time that Denver doesn’t have.

E.J. Liddell | Forward | Ohio State

Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’7″, Weight: 243 lbs, Wingspan: 6’11.5″

2021-22 per game stats: 33.2 minutes, 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 3.2 steals + blocks, 54.0 two-point %, 37.4 three-point %, 76.5 free throw %

Expected Draft Range: Mid to late first round

What happened last season: E.J. Liddell spent a total of three seasons at Ohio State developing as an inside-out scorer at the power forward position. He became the first option offensively and excelled as a post scorer, though he also showcased some range as a pick and pop big. All the while, Liddell made a major impact defensively, averaging 2.6 blocks per game at just 6’7″ in shoes.

Expected NBA role: Liddell is compared to Paul Millsap frequently, a bigger bodied traditional power forward that excels in the post and as an interior defender. He was a playmaker from the post too. At the NBA level though, Liddell will have to evolve with the times. He was already averaging 3.8 three-point attempts per game last year, hitting them at a 37.4% clip. He will need to be a consistent floor spacer while also having some positional versatility as a small ball center.

Swing skill: There are some incredible clips of Liddell’s effort, technique, and basketball IQ on the defensive end of the floor. If Liddell doesn’t just become a good big man defender, but a great big man defender, he will make whichever team drafts him very, very happy. His game isn’t sexy, but it wins basketball games. If he can evolve into the captain of a defense at the next level, he won’t have to be an elite scorer or playmaker on the other end to be massively impactful.

Is Liddell a good fit? Now, the Nuggets don’t really need a power forward. With Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Zeke Nnaji (not to mention Jeff Green if he comes back) the Nuggets probably don’t have a ton of time to spare at the 4 now or going forward.

But what if the Nuggets need someone who’s more of a versatile small ball 5? Someone who can patrol the paint while Jokić rests, run a switch everything scheme, and play inside-out on offense? Liddell strikes me as the one power forward in this class who could fit in Denver really well. If the Nuggets don’t trust the wings on the board at 21st overall, going with Liddell isn’t a bad choice by any measure.

Jake LaRavia | Forward | Wake Forest

Draft Age: 20, Height: 6’8″, Weight: 227 lbs, Wingspan: 6’9.5″

2021-22 per game stats: 34.2 minutes, 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.7 steals + blocks, 61.6 two-point %, 38.4 three-point %, 77.7 free throw %

Expected Draft Range: Late first round

What happened last season: Jake LaRavia played for two seasons at Indiana State before transferring to Wake Forest last year. He did more of the same for the ACC school, showcasing an array of skills at the power forward position. He’s going to be a high level three-point shooter at the NBA level with a pure stroke. He also showed he can put the ball on the floor, post up a little, and be a playmaker for others. The defense also proved to be good enough, though not great.

Expected NBA role: LaRavia strikes me as a bench forward rather than a starter, but then again, so did Franz Wagner last year, and he turned out to be a great selection by the Orlando Magic at eighth overall. As long as LaRavia holds up defensively, there’s enough offensive skill for him to fit in somewhere in a starting lineup. As long as he shoots the ball at a solid clip, teams are always going to be interested in his skill set.

Swing skill: LaRavia averaged 3.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game at Wake Forest. Those are both high numbers for a power forward, but there’s an implied level of playmaking and basketball IQ here that seems important. LaRavia sees the floor pretty well as a cutter, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if teams are running designed plays at the next level to get him posted up against switches. He has some mismatch potential against the right teams if his decision making as a 1-on-1 player continues to improve.

Is LaRavia a good fit? There’s something to be said about drafting another forward that can do some stuff on and off the ball given the long term health concerns of Porter. LaRavia may not be quite that level of outside shooter, but he’s a strong enough cutter and playmaker that he and Jokić would be able to do some fun things offensively. Unfortunately, he’s not an impact defender. Though he’s a good positional defender and slides his feet pretty well, the Nuggets need someone who can be a playmaker on that end, not just a piece of a larger puzzle. LaRavia will be a good player at the next level, but probably not for the Nuggets.

David Roddy | Forward | CSU

Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’6″, Weight: 261 lbs, Wingspan: 6’11.5″

2021-22 per game stats: 32.9 minutes, 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.3 steals + blocks, 62.0 two-point %, 43.8 three-point %, 69.1 free throw %

Expected Draft Range: Early to middle second round

What happened last season: David Roddy returned to Colorado State for his junior season and became the best player in the Mountain West Conference. His gradual growth year over year helped him develop into an unstoppable finisher around the rim, despite being shorter for a big man position. He made up for a shorter stature with raw muscle though, throwing around his 260 pound frame as a scorer, passer, on the glass, and defensively. He struggled in CSU’s NCAA tournament game against Michigan while guarding a true seven-footer though, giving his critics some ammo.

Expected NBA role: We’ve seen stocky players like P.J. Tucker, Zion Williamson, Draymond Green, and Grant Williams succeed at the NBA level, and Roddy is hoping to join their ranks as a player whose strength, hustle, and basketball IQ help paper over some of his weaknesses. Given his unique style, it’s impossible to know whether he will be a true value add against NBA starters until he’s out there. His athletic testing was really good, and there’s no questioning the hustle.

Swing skill: Just how good of a shooter is David Roddy? He shot 23.5% from three-point range in his first two college seasons before shooting 43.8% from three as a junior. He’s a career 73.9% free throw shooter, so it’s hard to tell just how good of a shooter he can be at the NBA level. If he stays above 35%, he will likely be a rotation player at the NBA level. If he exceeds 38% on moderate to high volume, he’s closer to a starter than his current draft projection represents.

Is Roddy a good fit? A local product at CSU up in Fort Collins, the Nuggets have seen Roddy multiple times, had him in for a workout, and become quite familiar with his game. Roddy will likely be best as a power forward at the next level, but his defensive versatility should open some doors with teams, including the Nuggets. He’s a smart, high IQ passer with ball handling skills and good touch around the rim. The Nuggets could use all of that.

Does he have a high enough ceiling to be considered a no-brainer first round pick? Probably not. Does he have the motor and basketball IQ to be a competent rotation player at the next level? Absolutely. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on, and the Nuggets might just keep the CSU product in-state when draft night rolls around.

SHARE