Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ranking Each of the Denver Nuggets' Under-25 Studs



With no bona-fide superstar, the Denver Nuggets managed to give the Lakers a run for their money in the 2012 playoffs, forcing a Game 7 in Los Angeles. Playing a team-oriented style of basketball similar to the San Antonio Spurs, the Nuggets (along with the Indiana Pacers) look to usher in a new brand of basketball where you don’t need a “Big Three.”

Their core nucleus is composed of players who are all very young, which bodes well for the future of the Nuggets franchise.

Led by Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee, the Nuggets have nearly an entire team of players that are under 25 years old.

Here is a ranking of all 11 of them.

11. Izzet Turkyilmaz

Height: 7’0”
Weight: 211
Years pro: Rookie

Izzet Turkyilmaz is a seven-foot rookie out of Turkey. According to DraftExpress, Turyilmaz has “fluidity, athleticism, and shooting ability” in addition to ball-handling skills. His weaknesses are his size and lack of experience. After all, he only weighs about 215 pounds.

He will likely remain overseas or play in the D-league in 2012-13 and have minimal (if any) impact on the Nuggets roster.

10. Evan Fournier

Height: 6’6”
Weight: 200
Years pro: Rookie

David Thorpe, executive director of the Pro Training Center told NBC Sports he believes that the 20th overall selection in the 2012 draft probably won’t see much action at the NBA level next year.

Coming from a French league that lacks the quantity of athletes in the NBA, Fournier will look to bulk up a bit in preparation to play with the Nuggets.

So we will have to wait and see how the top international prospect at the Eurocamp will make his impact. At age nineteen, he has plenty of time.

9. Julyan Stone

Height: 6’6”
Weight: 200
Years pro: 1

Julyan Stone’s main job is to keep the bench warm for the Nuggets. Playing an average of 8.1 minutes in 22 games played, Stone had 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.

Don’t look for anything to change next season.

8. Kosta Koufos

Height: 7’0”
Weight: 265
Years pro: 4

The former Ohio State center is a four-year pro who has seen some playing time over his career, but nothing eye-catching. In 48 games played last season, Kosta Koufos averaged just under 16 minutes and six points in addition to contributing 5.4 rebounds per game.

With a crowded front-line headed by JaVale McGee, Koufos will probably see a continuation of limited contributions as a role player.

7. Quincy Miller

Height: 6’9”
Weight: 210
Years pro: Rookie

Being called a “poor man’s Kevin Durant” is an awkward way to give a player some kind words of encouragement.

The 38th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft was named Big 12 freshman of the year by Sporting News. It will be interesting to see where head coach George Karl sees room for Miller in the depth chart but don’t expect him to see extended minutes in his rookie year.

That said, Karl will not hesitate to play Miller if he takes advantage of his opportunities early in the season.

6. Jordan Hamilton

Height: 6’7”
Weight: 220
Years pro: 1

Like fellow one-year veteran Julyan Stone, Jordan Hamilton spent most of his time sitting courtside. The former first-round draft pick played college basketball as a Texas Longhorn and was traded on draft night to Denver in the deal that sent Raymond Felton to the Trail Blazers.

Last season he played in 26 regular season games and averaged 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

5. Anthony Randolph

Height: 6’11”
Weight: 225
Years pro: 4

The former lottery pick by Golden State is yet another lanky youngster on the Nuggets. Although he had some success as a Warrior, he was traded to the Knicks in the deal that involved David Lee.

Randolph didn’t play much in his brief stints in New York and Minnesota but he signed a three-year deal through 2015 with the Nuggets and has the potential to get his career back on the right track.

The Nuggets got a steal with Randolph because he will perform if given the opportunity. He can add 10-12 points and five to six rebounds off the bench—which is undoubtedly a valuable contribution.

4. Danilo Gallinari

Height: 6’10”
Weight: 225
Years pro: 4

The sixth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft is still only 23 years old and has blossomed into an excellent power forward. Although he is 6’10” and only averages 4.5 rebounds per game, Gallinari has averaged no less than 14.6 points per game in the three seasons since his rookie year. Last year he also managed 2.7 assists and 1 steal per game—solid numbers for a big man.

Gallinari has an important role in Denver and an excellent pick-up in the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011.

3. Kenneth Faried

Height: 6’8”
Weight: 228
Years pro: 1

Kenneth Faried had an excellent rookie year with the Nuggets, averaging 10 points and almost eight rebounds per game during the regular season.

In the seven-game playoff series against the Lakers, he averaged a double-double.

Denver has high hopes for their 22-year-old forward—and for good reason. The former Morehead State star was a brilliant college basketball player and an excellent choice with the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

Faried has proven he can succeed at the NBA level and may vie for a double-double average in his second year with the Nuggets.

2. JaVale McGee

Height: 7’0”
Weight: 252
Years pro: 4

Many were shocked at the 4-year/$44 million that JaVale McGee received this off-season. But obviously the Nuggets feel they are locking up a center who GM Masai Ujiri says “is only going to get better.”

They certainly hope wildly unintelligent plays like these are behind the young seven-footer.

With a league that is starved for good centers, McGee’s $11 million per year may represent market value rather than his true ability. But he does have a tremendous upside and will be a force to be reckoned with if he can improve upon his 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season.

1. Ty Lawson

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 195
Years pro: 3

Ty Lawson has become the heart and soul of the Nuggets franchise.

Not even six-feet tall, the former North Carolina Tar Heel has proved to be a great player to run the show in Denver. If he can improve at the rate he has been over the course of his three years in the NBA, the Nuggets may have landed one of the league’s best point guards of the future.

His season per-game averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals have increased each year as well as the games he has started at point guard.

The Nuggets will go where Ty Lawson takes them—a heavy load for a (capable) guard who’s not even 25 years old.

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