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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #10

Will we have to interrupt this program to bring you breaking news? We might. It's that kind of a weekend and we might. As of press time, we were still waiting for Jordan Farmar's decision on whether he will opt in, opt out or something in between. Then, after midnight, it will get very, very tense for Brooklyn fans. Anytime after that, he can let a team know he's signing with them, and under what circumstances. Remember, LeBron James inserted a player option in his contract with the Heat. Who knows? We don't...really.

Also, we expect to hear early on Gerald Wallace and hopefully Gerald Green. Brook Lopez may wait to see what kind of offer sheet he'll get elsewhere although he doesn't have to. Then, there's the free agents who might get knocks on their doors, although so many of those prospects live overseas, we don't know how that will work. There's Mirza Teletovic, who last we saw was giving a basketball camp in Bosnia; Andrei Kirilenko, who's practicing with the Russian national team in Venezuela, and Ersan Ilyasova who lives in Turkey.

So in the meantime, we'll take a closer look at the three players the Nets drafted, catch up on some news that took place during the week and WORRY OURSELVES SICK!

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, blogs, our own reporting.

The Draft

Well, first of all none of our sleepers got picked by the Nets. So we blew it. Last year, we liked Marshon Brooks. So we will have to rest on our laurels from the 2011 Draft.

That said, we were reasonably happy with the way things turned out. Yes, we would have preferred Perry Jones III (who was one of our sleepers) but we have to agree with Billy King that giving up future first rounders for a guy who was dropping like a stone might not have been wise. And there are reasons why a player once thought of as a top 5 pick drops more than 20 places. We learned that in 2006 when fans completely ignored the collective wisdom of league GM's and scouts in celebrating the selection of Marcus Williams.

#41 - Tyshawn Taylor

A lot has been written about regarding Tyshawn Taylor, but here's a fun (and ironic) fact you may not know. John Hollinger's annual ranking of top prospects, based on his Player Efficiency Ratings projections, had Taylor higher than Damian Lillard, who was taken by the Trail Blazers with the Nets pick. NO, we are not saying that Taylor is a better pick than Lillard or that the Nets would have taken Lillard. They liked Thomas Robinson but he was taken at #5. What we are saying is that Taylor is probably a bit underrated. He may have dropped because of his inconsistency on the court (bad decisions and turnovers...a lot of them) and immaturity off the court (fighting for the most part.) Hollinger had him going #25, apparently because of that. But his PER rankings had him higher than Lillard and others taken before him.

Here's what Hollinger wrote ten days before the draft.

One player that Draft Rater isn't crazy about is Damian Lillard of Weber State, who compiled strong numbers but did so against a weak schedule and is much older than most of the prospects at his position. He not only failed to outrank the top point guards above but also rates behind the less-heralded Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas. No. 6 clearly seems a stretch for Lillard, who looks more like a mid-to-late first-rounder in this analysis.

Hollinger also had Taylor ranked higher than Austin Rivers and Terrence Ross, both taken ahead of him and Knicks pick Kosta Papanikolau. The rankings are based on prospects' college or Euroleague stats. On the other hand, Hollinger had Tornike "Toko" Shengalia rated much lower than Taylor.

Taylor, 6'4" in sneakers, was also the fastest guard and fourth fastest player among those drafted Thursday.

Hollinger notes that he did well last year. "The Rater was down on Jan Vesely, Josh Selby and Jimmer Fredette. The biggest whiff was on MarShon Brooks, whom it rated as a late second-rounder but was a solid late first-round pick by the Nets."

#54 - Tornike "Toko" Shengalia

Shengalia is not coming over this season, staying in France, even though he has a small ($300,000) buyout this year. He is a solid 6'10" forward who can run and slash and rebound, your typical high-energy Euro.

Earlier this month, he worked out for scouts, including the Nets, a the adidas EuroCamp in Treviso. He did very well, as Jonathan Givony's Draft Express reported.

Tornike Shengelia finished second in the camp's MVP voting, and was named the top power forward at this year's event. Shengelia may not be a physical freak, or an elite athlete, but his solid speed, toughness, and ability to use his strength in traffic give him excellent mismatch potential at the power forward spot. Shengelia had a number of dunks in traffic here among other impressive moments, and was all business from the moment he stepped on the floor on day one.

Offensively, Shengelia uses terrific pivot moves and straight line drives to create for himself off the dribble. He has terrific footwork in the post and is a savvy passer as well, possessing a nice feel for the game. His outside shot is a work in progress, but he shot the ball well in Treviso. One of the true professionals in this group, Shengelia's most promising moments came defensively, where he played better than he did earlier this season in Charleroi. That's a significant step towards defining his position at the NBA level and moving away from being labeled as a tweener. The Georgia native may need to improve his rebounding ability and continue making strides as a shooter and on defense to reach his full potential, but was on the the standouts of this year's EUROCAMP.

Toko, as he's called, does not lack confidence. When asked after the draft who for the name of a player whose game he emulates, he noted that draftniks think he is like Andres Nocioni. Not good enough for Toko. He announced that he sees himself as "a taller Manu Ginobili." A 6'10" 20-year-old Manu clone? We'll take it! That same video shows him learning for the first time he's been traded from the 76ers to the Nets. Unfazed. At the EuroCamp, he described his game to Givony.

Shengalia, like Taylor, wins. Taylor won a mythical national championship at St. Anthony in 2008, when he went undefeated on a team with a slew of Division 1 prospects. Shengalia was won Under-20 European Championship (B Division) for Georgia, averaging 30 points, 12 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 34 minutes per game, helping his country earn promotion to Division A, and winning MVP honors in the process. Then he joined the senior national squad for the European Championship in Turkey (Eurobasket), starting alongside Zaza Pachulia who attended the draft with him and hugged him when he was selected.

We should have an extra level of comfort in this pick when we recall that the last time Billy King bought a late second round pick from Rod Thorn, it was 2003 when King, then GM in Philly, paid $140,000 for the rights to Kyle Korver, taken at #51 by the Nets.

#57 - llkan Karaman

The Nets third pick and the only one they going into the night is a beast. Ilkan Karaman. Like Shengalia is 6'10" but there is little finesse to his game. The heavily tatooed Turk is less likely to make it the NBA (and won't be anywhere near the NBA this season.)

He too did well at the EuroCamp, as Draft Express reports:

Ilkan Karaman impressed with his athleticism today. Having matured quite a bit from a physical standpoint in recent seasons, Karaman has a strong 236-pound frame and 7'0.5 wingspan. In addition to his ability to play above the rim, he is able to score with his back to the basket thanks to his physical strength and step out to the three-point line and knock down shots with some consistency. The lefty is a terrific rebounder as well, as he pulled down 12 rebounds in 24 minutes today, and plays with intensity on the defensive end.

Karaman is coming off a fine year with Pinar Karsiyaka, averaging 10.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per-game in the Turkish League. A solid all-around player whose body has caught up with his skill level, Karaman's showing here could earn him some looks in the second round of the upcoming draft. Scouts here affectionately call him "K-Mart" because of his strong build, raw explosiveness and Kenyon Martin-esqe neck tattoo.

Karaman was personally scouted by Billy King and international scout Danko Cvjeticanin during the lockout. They went to Izmir, Turkey (coincidentally or not Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite European jet-skiing locale) to watch Deron Williams play for Besiktas. Karaman played well going 6 of 8 for 13 points and grabbed eight boards. The dude is tough. He is among the most heavily tatooed players in Europe and looks the part of a bruiser. He's also athletic, with a 33.5" vertical, five inches better than Shengalia.

Best of luck to all three.

Summer League

When your summer league roster has players with more than 800 games worth of NBA experience and two NBA championship rings, you should do alright. The roster is composed of two Nets rookies from last year, Marshon Brooks and Jordan Williams; their top draft pick, Tyshawn Taylor; a Springfield Armor player, Jeff Foote; three former lottery picks looking for work, Adam Morrison, Al Thornton and Julian Wright; an international player, Taureen Green; the D-League's Rookie of the Year, Edwin Ubiles; and a few undrafted players from this year's draft, only of whom, Ashton Gibbs, has been identified.

Morrison of course has the ring and the hair. He played last year in Serbia and Turkey, having more luck in the former. But the players who most interest us are the two forwards, Al Thornton, who dominated the Puerto Rican League, and Julan Wright, who by some estimates was the best player in the D-League at the end of the year, averaging 20 points to help the Austin Toros win the D-League crown. Thornton has the greater level of individual accomplishment, with a career average of 12 points over 296 NBA games. He had some injury problems the last couple of years but seemed recovered this year. Wright never averaged better than five points a game in his three years in the league, but the Nets reportedly like him a lot in their free agent mini-camp in May.

It's too bad for all the Georgian national team fans in Brooklyn that Shengalia isn't playing. He and Taureen Green play for the Georgian national team.

LeBron Disses Newark, Praises Newark

We guess it wasn't so close after all in 2010 when the Nets tried to convince LeBron James to play in Newark. On his tour of late night shows following the Heat championship celebrations, James dissed Newark to David Letterman. It went like this:

Letterman: Now that the Nets have moved to Brooklyn, what does that do to you and your teammates?
LeBron: It does absolutely nothing to me and my teammates.
Letterman: Does it mean you don’t have to fly into Newark?
LeBron: Yeah, and it means we don’t have to stay in a hotel in Newark either (laughs). We get to be in Brooklyn and have some good times."

Sounds like the 40-40 Club Barclays will be hopping after Heat games.

TSA-like security at Barclays

No sporting venue in the metropolitan area relies on metal detectors to screen fans entering an arena or stadium. Most – Madison Square Garden, Prudential Center and MetLife Stadium -- use pat-downs and/or "security wands" to pick up metal objects. Staples Center uses metal detector and so now will Barclays Center. There will be metal detectors at the entrances unless Borough President Marty Markowitz gets his way. He told The Post this week that he would "vehemently oppose" use of metal detectors as standard operating procedure.

The arena management seems unmoved. "We’re taking security very seriously," Robert Sena, director of security for the 18,200-seat arena, told community leaders Tuesday night at Borough Hall. Beyond the arena's own security force, there will be off-duty NYPD personnel, both uniformed and in plainclothes manning the arena.

MarShon: Such a Hot Dog

What better way to confront a criticism than to confront it head on. Marshon Brooks was seen as a bit of a hot dog in college, or what they now call "volume shooter." A lot of that got worked out with Avery Johnson's instruction. But in case anyone thought he was still engaged in frankfurtering, Brooks has a plan.

On July 4, he will travel to Brooklyn to help with the Coney Island hot-dog eating contest, a favorite passtime of large New Yorkers and slender but very efficient eaters from Tokyo. Jeremy Bettle, the Nets assistant strength and conditioning coach, tweeted this week that Brooks has been doing well with his regimen. A few of the foot-longs and Bettle and Brooks will be working overtime starting Thursday.

But he will get some exercise in. The Nets will also play their first game of H.O.R.S.E. in Brooklyn, according to event organizers, with Brooks challenging onlookers.

Final Note: Loyalty