NetsDaily Off-Season Report #10

Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories and blogs.

Now What?

The Nets have their final workout on Monday…unless one of those players who previously turned down and invitation changes his mind. (Jason Thompson of Rider may also do a drop-by between now and Thursday. Good thing...he is moving up fast in the draft. He had been scheduled earlier in the month but fell victim to flight delays.)

Once that workout is done, the Nets will have taken at least one look at nearly 50 players. Two key players have been seen twice: J.J. Hickson and Marreese Speights, who was seen once at the Nets' practice facility and once at the Sixers, when the Nets sent their top people down the turnpike.

Other players might be brought back for a look-see or a once-over. In 2006, the last time the Nets had two first round picks, at #22 and #23, they brought in Josh Boone of UConn and Ryan Hollins of UCLA for late second looks. Often times, that second look is more of an interview to clear up issues.

The Nets and Knicks have a nice advantage in that they can workout a player on their home court the morning of the draft. In fact, the Nets’ practice facility is closer to midtown hotels and the Garden than the Knicks. And those late interviews and workouts may not get publicized. In fact, it’s possible that the Nets or at least someone representing the Nets has seen a higher ranked player in a private workout recently. Their agents may not want it known that a team picking at #10 and #21 has taken a look at their client. They don’t want to encourage lower projections.

Brook Lopez? Maybe, but do remember, Lopez is represented by the same agency that handles Brook’s brother, Robin, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Russell Westbrook.

All that said, the actual selection process is now underway or about to get underway.

Kiki Vandeweghe told Dave D’Alessandro a week ago what the final stages are like: "What I typically do is get together with a bunch of teams and compare notes and come up with a mock draft."

Wouldn’t they lie to get a competitive advantage?

"Yes and no," said Vandeweghe. "If you talk to enough teams, you get a consensus of what everyone thinks everyone is doing -- the needs. In a week or so, we'll get a pretty good idea, a short list of potentially who is going to be there. And then hone down and focus on those guys."

Then, the most important mock drafts—the secret ones kept on a wall and in computers at 30 locations around North America—start going up.

Rob Meurs, the Nets chief international scout, told Draft Express' Jonathan Givony that as the days go by, the role of Lawrence Frank grows.

"I think it's very important what the coach thinks about it, because he has to work with the guys...Lawrence is involved with the whole process, which is really good for the team and for the coach also," Meurs told Givony.

"So he knows the guys who he gets into. He has an input in there so we have to listen to him. He's part of the whole staff making decision on what we're going to do.’

And although picking an NBA player from the ranks of college or international players is not a science, it does involve a lot of preparation, and workouts are just part of it.

Two years ago, in an interview with YES in front of the Nets' draft board, Gregg Polinsky decribed those final meetings before the draft this way:

"We get in here, we try to come up with development and ranking by position--the players, looking at our needs, sitting down and going over DVD’s, VHS, trying to make sure we aren’t missing any player, any specific thing about a player, and then trying to come to some conclusion."

Polinsky, whose assessment of every player worked out by the Nets has been posted on the team’s website and overanalyzed here, says those sessions are only part of the puzzle, along with scouting, including some by the NBA’s own service and others, physicals and psychological testing.

"There’s a body of work you do with this," said Polinsky. "I think if you pay too much attention to one particular area, that it can be detrimental. I think in looking at this deal as a whole, in putting all the pieces together—that’s what you try to come up with, the best decision."

And on Draft Night itself.

"I don’t know if intense is the word," explained Polinsky. "There’s a lot of activity. It gets electric at times because of all the possibilities, all the scenarios that go down, because sometimes things you haven’t really planned for, no matter how well planned out you are, somebody calls in between picks, has a deal they want to offer you. So you have to be able to think quickly."

Trading Up, Trading Down

It seems like everyone has written that the Nets are willing to trade up. Rod Thorn is always trying, but Fred Kerber on Saturday hinted the Nets might want to trade down and then take Robin Lopez. Okay, we’ll bite. Who wants to trade up in the draft and is in position to take the younger (by one minute) Lopez? That would be the Phoenix Suns, perhaps?

That scenario might explain two other disparate rumors: 1) that the Nets are considering Lopez for their pick and 2) that the Nets and Suns are talking trade, if barely. Jonathan Givony suggested the first scenario in Draft Express; Dave D’Alessandro the second in the Star-Ledger. Dave D suggested there have been talks of sending Richard Jefferson to the Suns for Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw. Could a swap of picks also be part of those talks?

Let’s also note this: on Thursday morning, we will be checking Kerber first. He has an excellent record on how the Nets will take.

Player Development and Reality

Getting a good player at #10 is a requirement for the Nets...if they do keep the pick. It is also likely, based on the players taken at that position over the past decade and who was available in the five picks immediately afterwards.

Take a look:

1998 – Paul Pierce by Boston. (Bonzi Wells and Matt Harpring…with the Nets’ pick sent to Orlando in the Rony Seikaly trade).

1999 – Jason Terry by Atlanta. (Corey Maggette).

2000 – Keyon Dooling by Orlando on behalf of the Clippers.

2001 – Joe Johnson by Boston. (Vladimir Radmanovic, Richard Jefferson, and Troy Murphy).

2002 – Caron Butler by Miami (Boki Nachbar).

2003 – Jarvis Hayes by Washington (Mikael Pietrus and Nick Collison)

2004 – Luke Jackson by Cleveland (Andris Bietrins and Al Jefferson)

2005 – Andrew Bynum by LA Lakers (Sean May, Rashard McCants and Antoine Wright)

2006 – Saer Sene by Seattle.

2007 – Spencer Hawes by Seattle (Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Rodney Stuckey).

One lesson at #10? You’ll have better luck taking a swing man over a big man.

As for #21, there’s no real need to do the same exercise, but the last 10 years has produced Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Boris Diaw, Morris Peterson and Ricky Davis as well as Pavel Podkolzine, Qyntel Woods, Joseph Forte and Jeff Foster.

Still, Rod Thorn told Filip Bondy in 2006 that the chances of getting a significant player after #20 are about six percent…not something to bank on.

As for #40, there has been only one great player shows up in a perusal of draft history: Monta Ellis. You can get good Euro-stash though. Juan Carlos Navarro also went at #40.

Video for the Masses

We're all about video here at NetsDaily...when we can find it. There is a wealth, however, of NBA Draft prospect clips. First there's the NBA's own index, broken down by position. Then there's ESPN's list, which shows all the players alphabetically. Yahoo! Sports has its by mock draft position. And FOX Sports uses a combination of position and mock draft analysis.

But if you want to see some workout video of Nets' prospects, you won't find it on the Nets' site. Nor will you find video interviews. More progressive team sites, like those of the Blazers, Grizzlies and Bobcats, among others, have extensive video catalogues of workout video and interviews. Best site in that regard? Portland's. It helps to have a Microsoft founder as your owner.

NetsDaily Sleeper Pick of the Week

Our 10th and final sleeper is a friend of Rod Benson's. That should give him some buzz. Ryan Anderson hasn't gotten a lot of buzz, though, in spite of averaging 21 and 12 in the PAC-10 and shooting 41.% from beyond the arc. Not a lot of those guys around. Like a number of players in this year's draft--Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Danilo Gallinari, Jason Thompson, Kevin Love to name a few--Anderson is not a great athlete. Like the others, in varying degrees, he is a good basketball player. He has improved quite a bit over the past two years and can shoot the lights out. He has a good attitude and BBIQ...and his website is among the best we have seen among college players. The Nets must like him. They travelled to Philadelphia on Thursday, mainly to see him. Will he be there at #21? Almost certainly. Will he be there at #40? A big maybe.

Gallinari vs. Williams

Danilo Gallinari is getting a lot of grief from fans for refusing to work out against other players when he arrives in NBA cities. At least, he is paying his way to those NBA cities. Sean Williams didn't do that last year. Williams had one workout, in Charlotte, in the week before the draft, and declined psychological testing last year. Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski had to fly to Houston to meet with him two days before the draft.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express called the treatment of Williams a "free pass":

"Some in the league are wondering about the message that is being sent, when a player who has barely been seen by top-decision makers and has such a troubling track record is given a free pass on being scrutinized and drafted in the first round regardless, solely off his athletic ability. "It’s an absolute joke," one executive lamented to us privately this week. 'For the sake of our profession, and the NBA in general, Sean Williams should not go in the first round,' the executive said. 'What kind of message does that send? He has done absolutely nothing to show that he’s a pro, starting with the decisions he’s made, picking marijuana over the obligations he had to his team, and now not being bothered to travel to NBA cities and explain himself. It’s not even a matter of weed…it’s a responsibility issue. Life doesn’t get easier once you reach the NBA.'"

Final Note

Things will no doubt start to get crazy as the draft approaches. On Tuesday, expect to hear from Rod Thorn one last time. If Kiki Vandeweghe follows Ed Stefanski's example there, will be a blog or something similar on the Nets' website.

Then, no matter what happens on Thursday, there is almost assuredly going to be a press conference on Friday at the Nets' practice facility featuring whoever is selected. If there's a trade, new players may or may not be there, particularly if, say, they live in Brazil or France.

Some time after the draft, the Nets will put together their summer league roster, announcing it around July 4. In the past, if there was a player the Nets liked but didn't draft, they were on the phone to him that night offering a summer league gig. That's how Eric Williams of Wake Forest wound up in a Nets workout uniform in the summer of 2006 and Jamal Tatum of Southern Illinois did last year. Neither was invited to training camp, however.

Also, by Friday morning, the Nets will have taken another step in the rebuilding effort, the first since the Jason Kidd trade.

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