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Evan Fournier To Nuggets With 20th Pick In 2012 NBA Draft

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EVAN FOURNIER
David Stern, Evan Fournier | AP

DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets like the team they have, so they used Thursday's NBA draft to build for the future.

Boasting a young core of players, the Nuggets selected three players who might help them down the road. They took French guard Evan Fournier with the 20th pick, Baylor forward Quincy Miller at 38 and Turkish 7-footer Izzet Turkyilmaz at 50.

The three are not expected to play for the team this year.

"With the way our team evolved and the way our guys responded down the stretch, it was a position we didn't have to do anything unless it was going to make us better," Nuggets President Josh Kroenke said. "It was something we wanted to give a chance to develop. The existing roster deserved a chance to compete together."

The three selections make a young roster even more youthful. Denver was one of the youngest teams in the league last season and the second youngest behind Philadelphia to reach the postseason. The starting five at the end of the season averaged 23.6 years. They ranked second in the league with 12 players 26 years old or younger.

That situation, the strong start and finish to last season and having 12 players under contract for next year convinced the front office to think long term. Therefore, the 6-foot-6 Fournier and 7-1 Turkyilmaz will likely stay in Europe for at least one more season.

"We wanted that option," Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. "We're pretty full with young guys. We wanted that flexibility and get a very young player and develop him.

"Jordan Hamilton is our rookie for next year, so we're starting to stack them. Fournier and Quincy are 19 years old. Are they going to beat out Jordan Hamilton? I don't think so. We're trying to build our team, and we feel our team can build through the draft."

The 19-year-old Fournier averaged 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists playing for Poiters in France Pro A last season. He was also a member of the French national team at the junior and youth levels.

He averaged 16.9 points for the French U20 team at the 2001 U20 European Championship.

Fournier and Turkyilmaz join an organization that already has three foreign-born players on the roster — center Timofey Mozgov (Russia), forward Danilo Gallinari (Italy) and restricted free-agent guard Rudy Fernandez.

The Nuggets' backcourt is unsettled because of injury and contract status. Reserve point guard Andre Miller is an unrestricted free agent and has said he wants a chance to start. Fernandez played just 31 games in 2011-12 and missed the last two months of the season after having back surgery.

Wilson Chandler, a forward/guard, missed 13 of the last 14 games and all seven playoff games after having surgery on his ailing hip.

Center JaVale McGee, acquired at the trade deadline for Nene, is also a restricted free agent.

Miller, the Big 12 co-Freshman of the Year, averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 37 games for the Bears. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Miller had four 20-points games and scored a career-high 29 points against Missouri.

He was one of the top high school players in the country before he tore his ACL as a senior.

"This is a top-five player in high school, a McDonald's All-American," Ujiri said. "Fantastic player until he blew out his knee."

Turkyilmaz played last season for Bandirma Banvit in Turkey, where he averaged 9.3 points and 2.0 rebounds. The 22-year old Turkyilmaz also is a member of the Turkish national team.

Also on The Huffington Post

NBA Draft 2012 Round 1 Results
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