As the 2022 NBA Draft inches closer and closer, the Denver Nuggets are preparing for every scenario involving their two draft picks: the 21st and 30th overall selections. Having made a trade reported on Monday morning to acquire the final first round pick in the draft, the Nuggets have options. They could trade up, trade down, trade a pick or two for a veteran contributor, or simply draft two players to add to their roster.
Whatever the Nuggets decide to do, draft night on June 23rd will be extremely important for the organization.
After the Nuggets added combo guard Bones Hyland to the roster last year, it appears unlikely that the Nuggets will select a point guard in the first round this year (though a report from Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report says otherwise). I decided to skip the point guard position and go straight to shooting guard profiles on Tuesday. These profiles are each in-depth and attempt to answer every major question Nuggets fans may have about certain prospects.
Mile High Sports 2022 NBA Draft articles
Today, it’s all about the small forwards (honestly, just big wings) in Denver’s draft range. Who are some players Denver could look to draft this year? Let’s take a closer look.
Jalen Williams | Wing | Santa Clara
Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’5.75″, Weight: 209 lbs, Wingspan: 7’2″
2021-22 per game stats: 34.8 minutes, 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 steals + blocks, 55.1 two-point %, 39.6 three-point %, 80.9 free throw %
Expected Draft Range: Late Lottery, middle first round
What happened last season: After two seasons at Santa Clara as a complementary option, Jalen Williams broke out in his junior season. He averaged the second most points, sixth most assists, and ninth most steals per game in the West Coast Conference and was probably the second best player behind Chet Holmgren. Williams led Santa Clara to a strong conference record, though they didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Expected NBA role: Williams has a versatile skill set and appears capable of filling a variety of roles. Most likely though, he will end up being a secondary playmaker on the wing. With some point guard experience running pick and roll in college, Williams is tailor made to run similar actions at the NBA level. He will also be asked to defend at a higher level, and he has the physical tools to do so with a 7’2″ wingspan, foundational strength, and enough agility to switch onto most guards.
Swing skill: The biggest question with Williams is just how strong of a shooter he is, both on and off the ball. He shows some impressive three-level scoring ability on tape, and if those skills at that efficiency are real, then he’s a player teams will want to have handling the basketball. Combining those skills with playmaking vision and high level passing gives him high level starter, if not star, potential.
Is Williams a good fit? For a Nuggets team that is hoping to revamp their wing position, Jalen Williams would be an excellent foundational piece. With ability to guard multiple positions and play different parts on the offensive end, Williams is the chameleon a team like the Nuggets can only hope for. The offense around Nikola Jokić demands players capable of shooting, passing, dribbling and reading the floor. The defense around Jokić demands length, athleticism, and switchability. Williams has all of the above.
If Williams is on the board at 21st overall, the Nuggets should run to the podium. If Williams is to be taken before 21st, the Nuggets should seriously consider trading up. He has the combination of floor and ceiling that a contender like the Nuggets should be hoping for.
MarJon Beauchamp | Small Forward | G League Ignite
Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’6.5″, Weight: 197 lbs, Wingspan: 7’0.75″
2021-22 per game stats: 34.6 minutes, 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.4 steals + blocks, 58.0 two-point %, 27.3 three-point %, 71.8 free throw %
Expected Draft Range: Middle to late first round
What happened last season: MarJon Beauchamp chose the G League Ignite route after bouncing around the country due to declaring early for the 2021 draft as well as complications due to Covid-19. Once he settled in with the Ignite though, Beauchamp showed exactly why he drew so much early attention from the NBA. His athleticism, ball handling, and defense at over 6’6″ were on full display this year, and though the shooting needs work, there’s a lot to like about Beauchamp’s physical profile.
Expected NBA role: Most teams would likely give Beauchamp a year to iron out his shooting, but there’s a world where Beauchamp finds floor time due to his athleticism and defense. He’s a strong cutter and above-the-rim finisher, and teams can often deal with one non-shooter in a bench lineup if that player is offering value elsewhere. If the shooting does come along, expect Beauchamp to eventually be a starter who can switch and defend some of the top guards and wings in the league.
Swing skill: It has to be the shooting. Beauchamp shot just over 27% from three in 24 G League Ignite games this year, and his 71.8% free throw percentage isn’t a strong indicator that he has a better shooting outcome in store. Still, we’ve seen bad shooters enter the G League and still be fine at the NBA level. Jonathan Kuminga stands out. If Beauchamp ever becomes at least an average three-point shooter, it will allow the rest of his skills to shine.
Is Beauchamp a good fit? Though the Nuggets would probably prefer high quality shooting, Beauchamp remains an excellent fit in Denver. The Nuggets must improve their size, athleticism, and defense on the wing, and Beauchamp checks all three boxes. He can slide to small forward in bench lineups featuring Monte Morris and Bones Hyland, and he also makes sense as a defensive connector with the starters. A lineup featuring Jamal Murray, Beauchamp, Michael Porter Jr., Zeke Nnaji, and Nikola Jokić gives Denver the shooting it needs to cover for Beauchamp’s weaknesses.
More than anything, the Nuggets need optionality. Beauchamp represents that well.
Christian Braun | Wing | Kansas
Draft Age: 21, Height: 6’7″, Weight: 209 lbs, Wingspan: 6’6.5″
2021-22 per game stats: 34.4 minutes, 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals + blocks, 54.5 two-point %, 38.6 three-point %, 73.3 free throw %
Expected Draft Range: Late first to early second round
What happened last season: Christian Braun returned to Kansas for his junior season and became a jack-of-all-trades option for the Jayhawks amid a national title run. He was the secondary playmaker behind the starting point guard, the second scoring option behind Big-12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji, and one the most important defenders on the team. He found opportunities to impact winning in nearly every aspect of the game, including strong defense against North Carolina in the championship game.
Expected NBA role: Braun profiles as an ideal rotation caliber wing at the NBA level with solid 3&D skills. He’s not going to be the best scorer or defender on his team, but he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses either. Though he has the dreaded negative wingspan (less than his height measurement at 6’6″) he’s a strong on-ball defender and bothers opponents consistently. His game is well-rounded, and opponents will often look elsewhere when hunting for mismatches on either end of the floor. As a career 37.8% three-point shooter in college, Braun should be good enough on that end at the next level to space the floor for stars in critical moments.
Swing skill: I’m going to cheat and pick two skills. Braun is a surprisingly capable passer and playmaker, often setting up Agbaji and the rest of his Kansas teammates with precise passes for high value assists at the rim or on the three-point line. If he’s a capable 3&D wing with passing chops, that might be good enough to earn a “starter” projection.
In addition, Braun is also a strong athlete (some would say “surprising” hops). He had a legit 40 inch max vertical at the combine in May, the third highest of any prospect. Braun also tested well laterally, meaning he has some room to grow his skills while athleticism does some of the heavy lifting early in his career.
Is Braun a good fit? If one were to rank the defensive potential of every wing prospect, Braun rates pretty highly. That’s a great place to start for his fit on the Nuggets, which would be pretty good. Unlike Beauchamp, Braun already has a tried and true outside jumper that’s immediately ready for the next level. That combined with his defensive instincts make him an interesting draft candidate at either the 21st or the 30th pick. I do have concerns about the 6’6″ wingspan when it comes to his ceiling, but there’s no reason Christian Braun can’t be a capable rotation player at a position of need for the Nuggets.
Dalen Terry | Wing | Arizona
Draft Age: 19, Height: 6’7.25″, Weight: 195 lbs, Wingspan: 7’0.75″
2021-22 per game stats: 27.8 minutes, 8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals + blocks, 57.2 two-point %, 36.4 three-point %, 73.6 free throw %
Expected Draft Range: Late first, early second round
What happened last season: Dalen Terry returned to Arizona for his sophomore season after a developmental freshman year. The Wildcats had another high quality wing prospect in Bennedict Mathurin who received most of the shine. It was Terry though that tied the room together as a role player for an elite team that lost just four games all season. He was the team’s leading perimeter defender, a high quality passer, and hit over 36% of his threes.
Expected NBA role: Terry is an interesting modern day project for NBA teams. He’s definitely the defender teams want, but he’s not quite the shooter teams are hoping for in a 3&D player. Still, he’s better as a passer and playmaker than many of the other wing options in this draft, averaging 5.6 assists per 40 minutes. That exceeds the assists per 40 of Jaden Ivey, Tyty Washington, Johnny Davis, and many of the other ball handlers in this class. Terry’s subpar scoring off the dribble may ultimately cap his ceiling, but there’s no doubt that he could be a playmaking wing off the bench for teams that lack a traditional creator. Maybe he becomes a starter doing the same thing.
Swing skill: There’s no doubt that Terry’s best skill for the NBA is his length on the defensive end. He can also see the court and make passes on the move at an NBA caliber level. Where he currently struggles is shooting and scoring when none of those passing lanes manifest. His “in-between” game is definitely behind the curve, and developing some go-to moves in that setting would drastically boost his ceiling. If he never improves as a scorer, then he may never see a playoff rotation.
Is Terry a good fit? As with many of these prospects, Terry’s defense immediately elevates him as a fit for the Nuggets. Like Beauchamp, the Nuggets are also well constructed to mask Terry’s shooting weaknesses with lineups that feature Murray, Porter, Jokić, Bones, and others. Terry’s role player tendencies should translate to the next level really well, and the Nuggets need a connector like him that can keep the ball moving offensively and shut it down defensively. If the Nuggets selected Terry in this draft, fans should be excited for the possibilities.
Kendall Brown | Forward | Baylor
Draft Age: 19, Height: 6’7.5″, Weight: 201 lbs, Wingspan: 6’11”
2021-22 per game stats: 27.0 minutes, 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals + blocks, 63.8 two-point %, 34.1 three-point %, 68.9 free throw %
Expected Draft Range: Early to middle second round
What happened last season: Last year, Kendall Brown was a top 10 recruit entering the Baylor program for his freshman season. After one season, he’s moving onto the NBA. Baylor was upset in the second round of the tournament by North Carolina, but they had a really strong season before that. Brown started every game he played, using his elite athleticism to dunk everything in sight in transition, on back cuts, and offensive rebounds. He showed flashes as a passer, spot up shooter, and defender as well, but any team that bets on him is looking at his athleticism first.
Expected NBA role: There’s undoubtedly a place in NBA rotations for elite athletes that generate easy baskets. Look no further than Derrick Jones Jr. as a player that can be leverage leaping ability into baskets. Brown may follow a similar path, though at a true 6’7″ in shoes, Brown also has the size to match up against other forwards defensively.
And to be clear, Brown’s outside jumper isn’t great, but it also isn’t dead like DJJ. There’s a world where he can hit enough shots and do enough with the ball to keep defenses honest.
Swing skill: Whether the shooting and scoring off the dribble gets better or not, the swing skill is quite clearly Brown’s defense. He shows flashes of elite defensive potential, sitting down and guarding on the ball well. Unfortunately, he gets lost off-ball frequently, and he also has some bad effort moments. He’s not good enough to get away with that at the NBA level, and if he’s merely a high leaper that occasionally plays defense, he simply won’t play. If he locks in defensively and takes it seriously, there’s a world where he’s integral to a playoff rotation.
Is Brown a good fit? There’s no doubt that the Nuggets could use an athlete of Brown’s caliber in their rotation. The Nuggets have never been a particularly athletic team, and though they have moments of it with Porter and Gordon on the court, Brown is a different caliber of leaper at this stage. One can definitely see Jokić or Bones throwing lobs to Brown on designed plays or simple back cuts.
Unfortunately, Brown is still reasonably far away from learning the nuances of playoff defense. He also has holes in his offensive game that finishing at an elite level around the rim can’t make up for by itself. With the offense being a question mark and the defensive impact being more theoretical at the moment, this would be a tough pick for the Nuggets to make in the first round.