NUGGETS: Talented teenager Dzanan Musa works out in Denver, expects to be NBA lottery pick.
Dzanan Musa is widely projected as a first-round draft selection.
But the 19-year-old Bosnian has even higher expectations about where he will be taken next Thursday night. Or at least on where he believes he should be taken.
“I think I’m a lottery pick, for sure,” Musa said after his Wednesday workout with the Nuggets, who hold the final lottery selection at No. 14. He added: “But the players here (in the United States) are more exposed than we (Europeans) are. I think we can show one year, two years from now where we belong.”
Confidence exuded from Musa in his short meeting with the Denver media. At 6-foot-8, 190 pounds, he called himself a point guard with the ability to defend all three perimeter positions. And he credits playing professionally since he was 16 — he averaged 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game last season for Cedevita of the Adriatic, EuroCup and Croatian Leagues — with fostering his readiness to make the jump to the NBA.
“You play against these legends in Europe,” Musa said. “You don’t score, 20, 30 40 (points) on them. These guys here (in America). … They play with the people their ages. It’s a lot easier for them. I don’t say they’re bad players; they’re good players.”
Musa dedicated his life to basketball at an early age. When he was 11, he moved five hours away from his small hometown to train at a basketball academy in Sarajevo, the capital and largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He recalled the tears he shed during his first three or four months away, “at night, especially, because you feel alone.” But the experience made him mentally stronger.
“I know how to manage myself,” Musa said. “Especially when you’re from a small town, as I am, and you go in the main city, you have people looking at you like you’re nothing. You have to fight through that, so I fight. I fight all the time.”
Taking pride in defense.
The other prospect in Denver on Wednesday whom the Nuggets could consider taking at No. 14 was Robert Williams, an athletic-yet-raw big man from Texas A&M.
Williams, who participated in a private workout at the Pepsi Center, is the two-time SEC defensive player of the year and averaged 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game during the Aggies’ Sweet 16 run as a sophomore this past season. When asked if he has a favorite swat throughout his career, Williams could not recall one because “there’s so many of them.”
“It’s just something I take pride in,” Williams said. “I love defense first. I love rebounding. I feel like that’s my job. I just always liked blocking shots more than a dunk.”
Dalton pumped up.
Hayden Dalton recalled watching in awe as J.R. Smith ripped off a 360 dunk during the first Nuggets game he attended as a child.
But now Dalton, a product of Chaparral High School in Parker, has an even better Pepsi Center memory. Following his college career at Wyoming, Dalton was part of the Nuggets’ pre-draft workout Wednesday.
“It makes the family really proud,” Dalton said. “It’s unbelievable just to see how far I’ve come and to know that I belong here.”
The 6-foot-8, 195-pound Dalton averaged 17.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season at Wyoming.