Nuggets' best acquisition is already on the roster

USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but the return of Danilo Gallinari will help them get back on track, as will an early-round draft pick.

The Denver Nuggets are still in a deep transition dating back to the Carmelo Anthony trade and ramping up once the franchise moved on from head coach George Karl. They missed the playoffs in 2013-14 after making the postseason for 10 straight seasons, struggling to perform during new head coach Brian Shaw's first season.

The ACL injury Danilo Gallinari suffered toward the end of the 2012-2013 season sidelined the versatile forward for the entire year. This severely hampered the team's ability to compete in a tight Western Conference, but Denver won't be rewarded, as it missed a top-10 pick when the Knicks picked it up by the end of the season.

Instead, Denver's selection falls outside of the top 10. The 11th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft isn't likely to net them their next franchise player, but there should still be a few interesting prospects available when they're on the clock on June 26.

The assets

Picks: No. 11, No. 41, No. 56
Free agents: Jan Vesely, Aaron Brooks
Cap space: -$2.3 million

Depth Chart

PG: Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks (UFA)

SG: Randy Foye, Quincy Miller (non-guaranteed), Evan Fournier

SF: Danilo Gallinari (injury), Wilson Chandler, Jan Vesely (UFA)

PF: Kenneth Faried, J.J. HicksonAnthony Randolph, Darrell Arthur

C: Timofey Mozgov, JaVale McGee (injury)

Team needs

The Nuggets need Gallinari back more than anything else. His pesky defense and skill set on offense make him an important piece for Denver, and they sorely missed him while he recovered from his ACL injury.

Aside from health, the Nuggets could use additional help at shooting guard. Foye gave them the offensive utility they need without Gallinari, but he's not an impact player. Ideally the Nuggets could draft a combo guard with the 11th pick, giving them an insurance option behind Lawson if Brooks leaves via free agency.

Denver could also use a power forward, whether to groom as a starter or play behind Faried. Anthony Randolph and Darrell Arthur aren't answers at the position, and there's a chance one of the mid-first power forward prospects could be a solution for the Nuggets.

Targets

Guards Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas and Zach LaVine are all sensible targets if the Nuggets hold on to the No. 11 pick. Harris would be the safest out of the bunch, though Stauskas' draft stock seems to be on the rise. He could be the best shooter out of the draft and has good size and athleticism to complement it.

If the Nuggets decide to make a move at power forward, Adreian Payne could be a solid pick up for the team. The senior out of Michigan State averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Singling out second-round prospects the Nuggets may be interested isn't an exact science, but they could draft a wing or big man with upside once they get into their deep picks.

The team has been linked to trade rumors, so nothing is concrete on how they will approach free agency. They've been rumored in both a Kevin Love trade and a trade-down to picking at No. 16 or 19 by swapping picks with the Chicago Bulls. If Denver slides down, there's a high chance players on their radar will still be available.

Denver should be able to come away from the draft with at least one player they've targeted. It may not be a home run swing, but landing a player who can contribute quickly would be a big help for a team trying to get back into playoff contention.

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