With the draft rapidly approaching, the Nuggets have sped up their pre-draft workout process and are now bringing in players that should be available for them to select with the 13th pick. Friday's first round of workouts consisted of guards Nate Britt of North Carolina and John Gillon, a former Colorado State Ram who finished his college career at Syracuse this past season, along with two potential lottery big men; Justin Patton of Creighton and Jarrett Allen of Texas.
Patton, who stands at 6-foot-11, 215-pounds, and Allen, who checks in 6-foot-11, 236-pounds, went at it Friday at Pepsi Center.
"It was really competitive. It was like a battle going on. Who is going to take who? It is always good when you have good competition," Patton said. "I haven't played competitive basketball in like three months so I get out here and I get to show what I got. It has been great so far."
It's not uncommon for teams to bring in two comparable players to check each other at these pre-draft workouts. It gives teams an idea of a players' competitive nature, how he faces adversity and his overall personality.
With Allen projected in DraftExpress' latest mock to go 18th overall, and Patton 19th, this was likely a cage match style, in-your-face, brawl between two big men fighting for a lottery selection.
"It helps a lot because you are already conditioned if you have to press," Allen said of tiring workout, citing the full court pressing style of defense he played at Texas. "When you are running up and down you feel like you are at a level of conditioning you need for these type of workouts."
Patton shot the ball fairly well and showed off his mobility and lateral quickness when going through pick-and-pop drills. His three-point stroke looked more consistent than expected as he hit five of six threes from the corner before cooling off from the top of the key.
"Everyone knows what I do. I run the floor, I am agile, I have good speed, and I can shoot a little bit," Patton explained. "I just want to show my IQ and what I can do on the floor and how I can implement what I am working on in workouts into an actual game."
Patton did his homework on the Nuggets. Center Nikola Jokic is a player that he tries to emulate.
"Being able to move your feet on ball screens, initiate offense, have a high-IQ like the Joker in a sense," Patton explained referring to Denver's big man. "Being able to pass the ball and be used in a lot of different ways. Just being versatile on defense and offense."
Some of that homework came last fall when Denver held training camp at Creighton. Patton was in attendance for every practice.
"I watched all of them. It is just high-level basketball. They probably don't even know but they are making high-level plays every single trip down the floor," Patton said. "It was amazing watching them come in and taking some things that they do and using it in our system."
Allen, the defensive-minded center out of Texas, is another intriguing prospect that Denver has their eye on.
The Nuggets see Allen as a someone who could come in and give immediate rim protection and overall defense, something that was clearly an issue last season.
"I knew about them some. At the combine we had the 30-minute meeting," Allen said of his previous engagements with the Nuggets. "Had a great meeting with them. They were one of the funnest teams."
Allen is a shot blocking and ultra-mobile center who can switch pick-and-rolls and cause chaos for the entire length of the floor. Every team throughout the league needs mobile big men that aren't a deterrent in the playoffs.
Time and time again, whether it's Kevin Love in The Finals last year, or Tristan Thompson at times this season, big men are forced off the court if they can't switch on defense and contain their man.
Allen's hoping to reverse that trend.
"I am a good defender," Allen said. "I am going to be able to block shots and go out and switch pick-and-rolls and play the new big man role."