Did you know that in Italy we have mock drafts too? With the NBA Draft approaching, many Italian websites make their predictions, exactly like the American ones.
These days, I’ve seen many mock drafts - both American and Italian - that place Zhaire somewhere in the middle of the first round: Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards (maybe the most frequent), even Charlotte Hornets with the pick no. 11.
Those are all predictable destinations, so when last Friday I read about Zhaire projected at position no. 14 with the Nuggets, I sort of turned my nose up, just because I had never thought about this selection before. The author is Lorenzo Neri and his article is on ultimouomo.com (going to need to be able to translate that link)
Thinking about it, this would be an interesting place of destination for our former no. 2, and there are at least three reasons to like this possible selection.
- Michael Malone works excellently with young players
Nuggets’ head coach, Michael Malone, was hired before the 2015-16 season, he constantly increased the team victories, going from 36 to 40 to this year’s 46, and lost the playoffs only in the last game of the season. In this period, he also developed some of the most intriguing young players in the Western conference: the first name that comes to mind is Serbian center Nikola Jokic, but we can also name, among others, shooting guard Gary Harris, power forward Trey Lyles, and point guard Jamal Murray.
The biggest weakness associated to Zhaire Smith is his rawness in terms of technique, so working under the aegis of a coach who can really develop him would be optimal.
- The Nuggets are on the launch pad
The players named before, along with some more experienced ones like small forwards Will Barton and Wilson Chandler, form a strong core that is expected to improve in the upcoming seasons.
The environment is solid and isn’t under pressures that are common in many franchises around the league, but there’s enough talent to target the postseason in 2018-19, and playing at this level as a rookie would be extremely beneficial for Zhaire.
- There’s no need of immediate productivity
With Millsap and Gary Harris under contract, and Barton up for a long-term extension, Zhaire would not be required to play and score immediately like a starter, but he’d have at least a complete season (or maybe two) to develop his game and to get used to the NBA.
In addition, he’d play with some important mentors, which can only help his development. In Denver, Zhaire would have the possibility of being as complete a player as possible.