Previewing the Group Workout: Auditioning for Purchased Picks

Grant Halverson

We again asked Reed Wallach, a NetsDaily member, to take a look at the Draft, this time a preview of the Group Workout to be held at the PNY Center May 22-23. Here's his report.

The week after next, a crop of draft prospects will gather at the Nets' East Rutherford training facility for one of two NBA-sanctioned group workouts. The group workout isn't the Pre-Draft Combine. That's held next week. The combine, in Chicago, is the elite workout, where invites are limited to 60. Everyone wants to be there.

There aren’t many consensus first round picks at the group workouts, like the one at the PNY Center, but there are some good value players who are likely to be picked in the second round ... and that's where the Nets could find the workout valuable. They don't have a pick in the second round this year, having traded it for Bojan Bogdanovic two years ago. Bogdanovic, of course, is likely to join the Nets this summer.

The Nets have spent money in order to get into the second round in both of the last two drafts. Last June, the Nets sent the Blazers $2 million to buy the #41 pick, which turned into Tyshawn Taylor, and $750,000 to the 76ers to buy the #54, which became Toko Shengelia. The Nets also spent $300,000 to buy Shengelia out of his Belgian contract.

In 2011, the Nets sent a reported $1.5 million to the Timberwolves, along with that second round pick, to secure Bogdanov's draft rights.

Again this year, the Nets have $3 million to spend on acquiring a pick and they may find a prospect they are intrigued during the group workout. (Last year, the Nets didn't hold individual workouts. They were satisfied their own scouting reports along with group workouts, the Pre-Draft Combine and the Adidas Euro-Camp outside Venice. They felt all of that provided them with enough data to make their decisions. Of course, last year, they didn't have a first found pick.)

Here is a preview of some talent that will be at PNY Center. They and whoever the Nets like overseas could be candidates for this year's purchased picks.

Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor- With the loss of two key players from their Elite Eight squad, Jackson was forced to carry his Baylor team without much help. The senior guard had a solid season, but his team faltered, falling below expectations even though they won the NIT Tournament. Jackson averaged nearly 20 points along with seven assists this season, great for a draft prospect, but he has many critics due to his height. Jackson is generously listed at 5’10", which makes it hard for him to play a significant role on teams. However, Jackson plays hard, gets to the line, and can knock down any shot he likes; he shot 42% from the floor. Could he be Nate Robinson type, a tiny player who plays hard despite his height? Jackson is projected to go 57 overall to the Suns in DraftExpress’ latest mock draft, which could be a spot where the Nets look to spend their $3 million. However, Chad Ford ranks him 29 in his big board. His wide range in terms of draft position will make it difficult to gauge if Brooklyn could plot a way to get him. The Nets were 28in pace this year, and if the Nets do acquire Jackson, he can have that stat trending upward.

Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona- Hill will be one of the most watched prospects in East Rutherford. He helped lead Arizona to the Sweet 16 this year despite not being one of the Wildcats' flashier players. Hill has a solid NBA body for a small forward, at 6’6.5" and 230 pounds, Hill averaged nearly 10 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted his junior year, when he had to play power forward. This season, with size coming arriving with the freshman class, Hill was moved to the three, his more natural position, where he averaged 6.7 boards per 40 minute pace. However, that rebounding talent has not gone away as he is still willing to rebound. Hill has great vision for his size and picks his spots well to slash into the paint despite not being a great finisher with contact. With the Nets lacking true depth at small forward, Hill could immediately come in and produce, especially considering his 3-point shooting has improved each year at school—he shot 42% this year from beyond the arc.

Richard Howell, PF, North Carolina State- This could be the ultimate pickup for the Nets; Howell could play a similar role to Reggie Evans, but also be an offensive weapon while on the floor. Evans, who is a famed rebounder, nearly 22 rebounds per 48 minutes, is one of the weakest players trying to put the ball in the basket. Howell, while small for the center position, could play power forward in the league at 6’8" 250 pounds. Howell has never grabbed fewer than 13 rebounds per-40 minutes, but Howell still needs some work. He needs to become more of a consistent defender in the post and helping on the pick and roll, but the pieces are there. Comparing him to Evans, Howell has a much more refined offensive skill set, averaging 12 points per game at NC State. At the next level he's not likley put up these scoring numbers, but he could develop his game and work his way into the rotation, ultimately becoming a more effective version of Evans. His draft stock is pretty constant, a late second round pick. Chad Ford ranks him 52 on his big board, while DraftExpress has him going 28 in the second round. Howell is by no means a starter in the league, which Evans was this season ... and before, but can he play a significant role—for sure.

Colton Iverson, C, Colorado State- Iverson began to become a household name amongst college basketball followers when he led Colorado State to a AP Top 25 ranking this past season. Iverson was the 10 best per game rebounder in the country and shot 54% in post up situations, proving he is a solid finisher around the rim. Iverson is a big body, weighing over 260 and measuring up at a little under 7’0". Iverson isn’t particularly quick. However, the issue with Iverson is whether he is too much like Brook Lopez, a slow, crafty big man with the only difference being Iverson’s rebounding ability. As a guy who can finish around the rim, he has potential as a true backup center. He should be available at the tail end of the draft.

Ricardo Ledo, SG, Providence- Ledo is the enigma of this draft. He didn’t play a second at Providence due to eligibility issues, but was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. Most mock drafts have Ledo going undrafted due to the lack of knowledge, but he could become a first rounder if he impresses in workouts and at the Combine. Based on his high school footage, it is clear Ledo has a nice stroke and smooth handles, and with a 6’6" body, his body translates well into an off-guard in the pros. However, the Nets have MarShon Brooks, also a former Friar, and friend of Ledo, who has similar measurements and the same skill set. The Nets have also shopped Brooks as part of a possible trade.

Christian Watford, SF, Indiana- Most fans know Watford from his buzzer beater over #1 Kentucky two years ago, but he has not gained much draft attention since then. Watford possess great size for a small forward, 6’8", that accompanies his high release on his shot, making it nearly impossible to block. The Nets are in desperate need of players that spread the floor, and Watford is a threat to make any shot from beyond the arc, where he shot 48% this season. Watford has some glaring weaknesses, though. He is not quick by any means, which shows up when one sees his 39% 2-point shooting percentage, and he doesn’t get to the free throw line as much as you wish an 80% free throw shooter to go, going four times per contest. Watford has a good chance of going undrafted, so the Nets could pick up the three-point specialist in free agency, but if he shows improvement in East Rutherford, they may buy a pick to take him.

Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State- The Nets are in need of some depth at the off-guard, for Joe Johnson battled plantar fasciitis all season long, and Keith Bogans is not the long-term solution for them. Plug in Snaer, projected as a mid-second round pick, the Nets get a player with experience along with a solid offensive game, but most importantly a formidable defender. Snaer has a 6’7" wingspan and very quick laterally that translates well to the professional level. The Florida State product has the potential to give the team a defensive boost, while he can knock down a couple of perimeter jumpers, shooting a 38% clip. This may make him sound a lot like Bogans, who is past his prime as a role player and may not return. If Snaer can show some ability off the dribble at workouts, the Nets may be intrigued enough to inquire about him on draft night.

Is Brooklyn really considering taking any one of these fringe draft prospects? Nothing is certain, but Nets scouts and hierarchy are sure to be there, and these are the prospects that could mold well onto the squad next season.

if one of these prospects are enticing enough for Brooklyn to buy a pick, it could easily be Richard Howell. He has all the makings of Reggie Evans ... but with offensive talents. We'll be watching for him May 22 - 23 to see if he could fit well on the Nets. The other is Michael Snaer, who may have the upside to be Tony Allen, one of the top wing defenders in the league today. Along with his experience as a leader of his Florida State team over the past two seasons, Snaer could contribute for the black and white next season. Lastly, Ricardo Ledo is a wildcard coming into the draft. If he wows at workouts, he may find himself being picked in the first round. If he plays just fine, he will most likely find a home in the second round. If Ledo produces at the group workout and the combine, and he is there towards the middle of the second round, Brooklyn may look to get him.

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