Willie Warren and Next Year's Roster

Given that most mock drafts have us picking Favors at three, let's assume for a minute that the former Georia Tech big man will be in a Net's uniform next year. I know nothing is a given here but, though I was initially disappointed with the outcome of the lottery last night, I agree with others that this may be a blessing in disguise. Favors is a big man who will compliment Lopez for years. He may not be a polished post player but we have that in Brooke; what we really need are the rebounding, shotblocking, energy and athleticism that Favors will be able to provide immediately. Again I agree with others who have correctly pointed out that the Nets have been looking for just this type of player since Kenyon left.

But really I want to talk about the 27th pick and the possibility of drafting Willie Warren at that slot. After projecting as a top ten pick a year ago, Warren had an extremely disappointing campaign this year. Battling injuries and conflicts with his coach, the young gaurd has been questioned for both his ability to stay healthy down the road and also his overall attitude. Although I have only seen one mock draft board predicting that the Nets selected Warren at 27, many others have him slotted right around the 25-30 zone making a discussion of him in Newark next year seemingly valid.

So given his troubled season, why should we pick Warren? Well to me he would be a potentially great fit for the Nets especially if he falls to us at the end of the first round. As we all know the draft outside of the lottery is a crapshoot (and even with the top picks there are no guarentees). This year especially "the experts" are saying that there is little talent outside of the top four or five picks. If that is the case then why not take a risk on someone who has the potential of Warren? He is an athletic gaurd who has a knack for scoring. He may be somewhat of a ball dominant tweener (read: can he play the point?) but in some ways that is precisely why I think he might be a good fit for the Nets and not other NBA teams. With Terrence Williams we have a big wing who can handle and distribute the ball. If Twill comes off the bench with Warren (oh yeah, we're going to sign Rudy Gay to start at SF) Williams could run the point and the two could switch on defense. Or we could go small and have Warren playing along side Harris at times. I like the idea of having a possible instant offense guy offf the bench, the way Ben Gordon was for the Bulls a few years back or, going back even further, Bobby Jackson for the Kings. Listen, I understand Warren is no sure thing and I am not saying he could come in right away and win sixth man of the year. But if he falls to us at the end of the first or even the beginning of the second round I think he would be well worth a look. Even if you don't like Warren as a prospect, it must be acknowledged that a year ago many pundits did. I believe that Warren will be motivated by the doubters and we all know what a player can do when they think they have something to prove (see Brooke Lopez).

Transitioning a bit, I think we all need to temper our expectations a bit this summer (that means you too Mr. Prokorov). I do not know if we are going to sign LeBron but for now I am opperating on the assumption that we will not. I think if we do draft Favors then, we should focus our attention on players like Rudy Gay and JJ Reddick. These players (Reddick more so than Gay) can be had at reasonable prices this summer and they are young. Preserving some cap flexibility while constructing a TEAM will likely serve us better than signing one superstar. Yes I think signing LeBron accelerates our chances of winning a championship in "one year minimum, five years maximum" but here is my projected lineup for next year that I think could make some noise in the playoffs:

Harris         Warren
Lee             Reddick
Gay             Williams/CDR
Favors        Yi/Humphries
Lopez         Boone

The biggest question marks for me on this list are obviously Yi and Boone. We have seen flashes from Yi but, like most of us I think, I am not sold on his ability to fully realize his potential. Hopefully, however, he will work hard this summer, get his head on straight, and give us a big man who can stretch the floor which is exactly what we need to compliment Lopez and Favors. Boone I am just throwing in there because we need big bodies who can play defense. Maybe we can sign a better back up center this summer or address that need in the draft but if not I'll take Boone for the vetern's minimum.

Quick breakdown of the other players

Harris: We know what he brings to the table: quickness and a streaky shot. He's not the best playmaker but he does look for his teammates and we're lucky to have him in my opinion.

Lee: He seems to have a great attitute and a desire to improve his game. At the two gaurd it's great to have someone like Lee who plays solid defense and he has shown the ability to carry the load on offense occasionally.

Reddick: A young player with playoff experience but most importantly a consistent three point shooter. We might also look at Kyle Korver here but I like Reddick because he's younger.

Gay: He's not Lebron and the biggest danger here is that we would over pay him. But he's long and athletic, and can score the basketball. Ok he might not be the ideal free agent signing we were all hoping for but I see him in a Nets uniform all the same.

Terrence Williams: Arguably our best player in the last month of the season. Freak athlete with an amazing ability to handle and distribute the basketball, especially at his size. Can get the the rim and finish with authority but needs to work on his outside game. I know Nets fans are high on Williams (myself included) but for now I'd like to see him as the first player off the bench rather than a starter. We need to see what he can do over the course of an entire season as his focus wasn't always there as a rookie.

Chris Douglas-Roberts: I don't know if we are going to pick up his option but I hope we do. CDR has the potential to be a very effective rotation player but his attitude last season was terrible. If he can stay motivated and positive, and accept his role, he can be an offensive and defensive weapon for the Nets next season.

Kris Humphries: I think he excerisizes his player option and stays with the team next year. Humph is big and strong enough to bang with most power forwards in the league. He's a great rebounder and energy guy, and while he shows some nice touch on his jumpshot, he needs to recognize that he should not shoot everytime he touches the ball.

Brooke Lopez: The centerpiece (pun intended) of the Nets franchise. Skilled big man with great size and underrated mobility. Hard worker who will continue to improve offensively. Should be a top shotblocker in the league next season and hopefully can improve his rebounding numbers as well. Everyone knows Brooke is the real deal.


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