2018 NBA Mock Draft: Knicks go big with Mo Bamba

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Mohamed Bamba
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Mohamed Bamba /
17 of 30

14. player. 73. . G/F. Texas Tech. Zhaire Smith

Smith is everyone’s favorite draft prospect these days, and it seems like a lot of those guys tend to end up in Denver.

There’s something to be said for a team that is willing to grab players they like who can do a bunch of different stuff and actually make it work. The Nuggets have somehow made lineups with no point guard or rim protector compete at an above-average level against the league’s best teams for a couple years straight now. That’s because they found obscure talent from non-traditional players like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray and made it work. My biggest concern with Smith is his offensive role — I’m afraid “special” won’t be enough to make him a contributor. In Denver, that fear is lessened.

The Nuggets need a replacement for Will Barton, ideally someone with a lower usage as Paul Millsap soaks up some of those scoring possessions next year. Smith can’t be counted on as a shooter or distributor right away, but he’s the kind of guy teams will discover they can’t keep off the court. Making hustle plays and playing incredible defense, Smith will fill in the gaps that hurt Denver this year.

He could be their answer to the James Hardens and Donovan Mitchells of the Western Conference if he develops quickly, and he raises their ceiling considerably.