We asked Reed Wallach, a NetsDaily member, to take a look at how the Nets could use the NBA Draft to fill some gaps that as the season wore on became more obvious Here's his report ... and recommendations:
With the Nets first full season completed in Brooklyn, it is time for them to fill some needs in the off-season and the NBA Draft will be the first opportunity. With the Nets capped out, ownership understands that getting value out of the draft is not just important but crucial. Development, and getting players in the draft, thus becomes a high priority. So does getting "pieces" for trades.
Brooklyn has the #22 pick in this years draft, which they're hosting, and hope they can build a stronger ball club with their lone pick. And with $3 million available, they can buy a pick as they've done three times in the past two drafts.
What do the Nets need to upgrade? Here's a starter package:
• Small Forward— Gerald Wallace is a leader and a veteran, but was painful to watch between the All Star break and the playoffs. The Nets also lack a legitimate backup to Wallace and could look to find his successor at #22 ... or someone who Toko Shengelia could compete with.
• Power Forward— This has been the topic of discussion for P.J Carlesimo all season long, for he has a bevy of power forwards at his disposal, but uses the offensively deficient one of the group, Reggie Evans. With Andray Blatche’s future in question, and Kris Humphries contract up after next season, the Nets need to ponder if Evans is a fixture in Brooklyn's future.
• Backup Center— Brook Lopez has proven his worth as a marquee center in the league, but the Stanford alumnus can’t go all 48 minutes. Andray Blatche has come in to play valuable minutes for Lopez, but as mentioned before, he may or may not be back next season. With limited cap space, the Nets only option may be to take a big bruiser in the middle ... and preferably one who can play defense.
So, here are some prospects that may be available for the Nets at #22 that are worth taking a look at. The draft is seen as so weak that there are wildly different opinions on where many of the prospects will fall.
Gorgui Dieng, 6'11", Center, Louisville- Dieng was a major part of Louisville’s run to the National Championship, averaging eight points and seven rebounds. Dieng measures up at 6’11", but only 245 pounds, according to ESPN. Dieng is one of the better passing big men in this draft, which makes up for his lack of scoring talents. Dieng is a phenomenal defender, though, with a reported 7’6" wingspan, he is a superb shot blocker, averaging nearly three a game in his Junior season. Dieng can fit in as a formidable backup for Lopez, but the Nets can’t depend on him to be a threat to score consistently, he would be in to be a defensive stopper. If he could put on several pounds before the draft, expect his stock to rise. One factoid that could be a big factor in where he's picked. At 23, he's one of the older players in the draft.
Tony Mitchell, 6'9", Small Forward, North Texas- Mitchell was a lottery prospect last season, with a near 6’9" frame and 7’3" wingspan, nearly power forward material. The Nets could use Mitchell as a tweener, where Wallace has been used at times, but Mitchell could fall into the same issues Wallace had this season. Mitchell is not that great of a perimeter scorer, shooting 30-percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore season. This makes him an undersized four in the league. NBADraft.net compared him to Thomas Robinson, which may not be such a good thing. Robinson had a subpar rookie campaign. Mitchell still managed to average 13 points and eight boards for a poor North Texas squad, so the talent is there, but Mitchell needs to show his Freshman self to the Nets, which was an increase in all major stats compared to his sophomore year, to be taken by them.
Jeff Withey, 7'0", Center, Kansas- Withey had a very successful senior campaign for the Jayhawks that showed his strength as a potential NBA center, but also flaws that could make him a career backup. His strengths include his shot-blocking ability; Withey was third in the country with nearly four blocks a game. He is also a fundamentally sound player, making plays as a help-side defender, and makes life hell for big men who go against him. His fatal flaw is his frame—Withey is 235 pounds, according to ESPN, which does not support his 7’ stature, but he is wily and withering. Withey could come in to be a backup to Lopez if the Nets take him, mainly for his presence in the paint, but he can’t form a "Twin Towers" with Lopez due to his offensive woes. Like Dieng at 23, Withey is older prospects in the draft. So the clock is ticking for him to develop his offensive power.
The Nets could also be intriguing by the crop of international players this year, all of whom are teenagers.
Giannis Adetokoubo, 6'9", Small Forward, Greece- This is more of a stash away pick for any team that elects to take Adetokoubo this year. You can see this guy when he walks onto the floor, standing at 6’9", weighing less than 200 pounds. Adetokoubo has a reported 7’3" wingspan to go along with his massive hands. (insert picture from draft express) Adetokoubo plays small forward for the fourth division in Greece, so the talent level doesn’t translate to the pros, but as stated before, the tools are there. Adetokoubo is capable of playing any position on the floor; with his big hands he can bring up the ball, or take it down to the post and let his long arms get past his defender. Adetokoubo has grown a little more than three inches after recently turning 18, per DraftExpress.com, so he may continue to grow. With youth and potential, Adetokoubo could be a part of the Nets future, with his skillset, but is he worth the risk when roles need to be filled now? That is the burning question with him.
Rudy Gobert, 7'1", Center, France- Gobert could be one of the steals of the draft with his upside, but he can also be a flat out bust when he comes to the league. Gobert is competing with Nerlens Noel, the top prospect in the draft, for the longest wingspan amongst the prospects at 7’9". However, there is work to be done with him. Despite being 7’1", Gobert weighs in at 220 pounds, putting him at a disadvantage when he bodies up with some of the stronger big men in the league. Gobert will be a project teams will need to work on and some are questionable on his position in the draft. DraftExpress has Gobert going #11 to the 76ers, while Chad Ford of ESPN has Gobert going #23 to the Pacers. It is safe to say that there are many different opinions on the Frenchman. In Brooklyn, the Nets could have Gobert learn from one of the best offensive centers in Brook Lopez, as he is still undeveloped as a scorer. Or they could stash him in Europe for a while.
Sergey Karasev, 6'7", Small Forward, Russia- At the age of 19, Sergey Karasev has one of the highest ceilings of any prospects in this group. Karasev lead the Russian league in scoring this past season, averaging over 16 points per game. Karasev is a dangerous threat beyond the arc, draining 38-percent his threes this season, but is a mediocre finisher around the rim. With only a frame of 197-pound frame Karasev gets banged around in the paint, but he does find a way to create for his teammate. As DraftExpress notes, "Karasev is not a prolific threat off the bounce one-on-one, but can take what defenders give him." Karasev can be a great fit in Brooklyn, he can help spread the floor for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to isolation and kick out to him for a three, but also facilitate when either of the two or Lopez get going during the course of a game. Karasev’s dual-threat ability, passing and scoring, makes him a prime candidate go at No. 22. It also doesn’t hurt that he is from Mikhail Prokhorov native country and city and the Russians would like to see a countryman in a Nets uniform.
Dario Saric, 6'10", Small Forward, Croatia- Saric has been one of the question marks regarding his NBA future. At 19, he could play another year in Europe. Saric is an offensive-first player with a 6’10" body, making him potentially one of the longest small forwards in the league. However, Saric isn’t very athletic and it is unsure what his true position in the league. He is known for his gifted passing abilities. Assuming he plays small forward and is drafted by the Nets, Saric could be a solid rotational player that could see flashes of offensive explosion, similar to MarShon Brooks this season. Saric is very slow laterally, though, making him a defensive liability, and with the Nets in need of a two-way player, Saric may not be the man for them. He does have one great advantage, though. He's been a Nets fan since a child, his father having played with Drazen Petrovic in Croatia. Maybe that's the reason no player has been more associated with the Nets in mock drafts than Saric.
Who to take? What's to like? Mitchell, Withey and Karasev look like the best of the seven. Each brings a different skill set to the team that could benefit them. Mitchell, for one, could play either the three or four with tons of upside. Withey could be a formidable backup to Lopez and become stronger while learning behind him, then possibly forming a dual-seven foot frontcourt at times. Karasev is a likely candidate due to his native Russian roots, but also his knock down jump shot that goes along with his 6’7" body.