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2012 NBA Mock Draft: Chad Ford Projects C Meyers Leonard For Nuggets At No. 18

The 2012 NBA Draft is still several months away, but we'll soon start to hear about underclassmen leaving early for the draft.

The Denver Nuggets are enjoying the fruits of a strong 2011 NBA Draft with Kenneth Faried, who has taken over the power forward position after the trade of Nene, but what does the 2012 NBA Draft have in store for the team? ESPN's Chad Ford has taken his first stab at a 2012 NBA mock draft, projecting a big man, Illinois Fighting Illini center Meyers Leonard, to the Nuggets:

Analysis: The Nuggets traded Nene for JaVale McGee, but they could still use more size in the middle. Leonard is pretty raw, but he's a terrific athlete who can play good defense right away.

Meyers, a sophomore, averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds during the 2011-12 season for the Illini. He stands seven feet tall and weighs 245 pounds.

McGee is a restricted free agent next season, and the Nuggets also have Timofey Mozgov for the next several seasons under contract and into restricted free agency. Kosta Koufos signed a three-year deal with the Nuggets back in January.

For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs. Check out SB Nation NBA and SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more on the 2012 NBA Draft.