The Nuggets selected Spanish forward Juan Hernangomez with the No. 15 pick of the 2016 NBA draft on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
Hernangomez is the younger brother of Willy Hernangomez, who was drafted in the second round by the Knicks last year.
The younger Hernangomez, 20, had a strong season for Estudiantes this past year, averaging 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game. Though NBA teams may elect to keep Hernangomez in Europe for a year, his contract allows him to come to the NBA immediately if his new team desires.
While Hernangomez has regularly shown his offensive prowess, he might not be ready immediately to play as a small forward in the NBA.
Strengths: Hernangomez is a versatile, offense–oriented player who could potentially play both forward spots, though he may not be ready to defend NBA small forwards quite yet. He’s an extremely competitive, high-energy player with deceptive bounce who can play some on the interior and in spot-up situations. He moves well and has a pretty advanced feel for the game—his intangibles are a big selling point.
Weaknesses: He’s still a bit rough around the edges and is more of an inside face-up guy than a true perimeter threat. Hernangomez will have to become comfortable off the dribble in all facets to play small forward. Like most his age, his decision making could also be better at times. There’s a lot to like, but there’s also some work to be done. Beyond his consistently strong energy level, he lacks a one true calling card.
Explanation: Given all their picks, it was likely the Nuggets would stash at least one of their first-rounders overseas. That’s likely what will happen with Hernangomez, who could be a nice long-term replacement for Danilo Gallinari as a tough combo forward. He’s known as a fiery competitor, and should be a good addition to Denver’s international flavor whenever he comes over. There is a lot of talent still hovering on the board here. - Jeremy Woo