The Nets first workout list seems kind of pedestrian. There are no big names and some names that are barely recognizable to all but the most devoted college hoops plans. But there are stories behind all of them and some are interesting ones.
We've put together some thoughts on the more interesting prospects ... and as we noted, these workouts are likely to be not only for the two (or three) picks the Nets will have in the draft. Some could get invited to the Nets' two summer league teams, their training camp in October or, if Brooklyn returns to the D-League, that roster. The names and performance data go into the same database used for all those rosters.
We broke things down by groups we think are relevant...
The draftable point guards...
Three of the players invited are point guards who at one point or another were projected as first or second rounders: Terry Rozier of Louisville, who ESPN still has as the Nets first round pick at No. 29; Kevin Pangos, the 6'1" shooting point guard who hovers around the No. 60 spot and Quinn Cook, another 6'2" PG who was Duke's starting point guard until Tyus Jones came along. Rozier and Pangos go up again each other Monday. Cook works out Wednesday.
Here's Chad Ford's rationale for the Nets taking Rozier...
The Nets have Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack already, but Rozier can play off the ball, and long-term, neither of those guys are the answer. Both will be on the trading block heavily this summer. What Rozier lacks in polish, he makes up for in athleticism and toughness.
Rozier, however, is undersized (as are all three of these guys) and not a great shooter. And he can only play the point. But toughness and good defense will always appeal to Lionel Hollins.
Pangos, on the other hand, is a great shooter with good point guard skills who helped Gonzaga to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA two years ago, when he played with the Celtics Kelly Olynyk. Like Olynyk, Pangos is a Canadian from Ontario. He is a gym rat who's obsessed with Steve Nash and many Canadians see the resemblance. He heard Nash tries to make 500 jumpers a day so he adopted the same regimen. He even wore his hair like Nash.
Cook, a senior, played the good soldier and was rewarded with a national championship his senior year. He proudly talks about how he recruited Jones while knowing that he was likely going to be pushed by the freshman. He was a teammate of Mason Plumlee at Duke and of a number of NBA players in FIBA youth tournaments including Bradley Beal, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Andre Drummond, Adonis Thomas and Tony Wroten. He just wins, leaving college with an NCAA championship and two FIBA gold medals in the Under 16 and Under 18 world championships, where he was the tournament assist leader in the U18 competition.
The blue collar strivers...
Aaron White and J.P. (for Jean Pierre) Tokoto are among the few prospects who've made it on anyone's draft board. NBADraft.net has White going at No. 46 to the Bucks. Tokoto is on Draft Express' mock at No. 37, while NBADraft.net has him actually going to the Nets at No. 41. Both are from the Midwest with terrific work ethics --something this draft is getting known for-- who've played blue collar ball in big programs, winning fan support.
A native of Strongsville, Ohio, White spent four years at Iowa where he developed a great reputation as a mature kid with a willingness to push his game. Very blue collar which in Iowa made him quite popular.. He was All Big Ten first team and finished his career first in games played (140), second in scoring (1,859), and third in rebounding (901). He and his girlfriend are expecting his first child this August. He turns 23 the next month.
Deceptively athletic, as the saying goes, he measured a 36" max vertical at the Pre-Draft combine. A power forward at Iowa, he's been developing a three point shot, having done well from the corners at Iowa. He's also a good defender and likes to model his game after Andrei Kirilenko. Called one of the "one of the most efficient offensive players in college basketball," by DX, capable of getting out in transition and "finishing explosively around the basket off lobs."
Tokoto is an athletic, if slender, ball hawk from Menominee, Wisconsin who played three years at North Carolina. Blessed with a long wingspan -- 6'10" on his 6'6" frame -- and a 40" max vertical, Tokoto is seen as an ideal wing defender. On offense, he's limited as a shooter, both from the outside and at the line. He does have a reputation as a good passer and rebounder, finishing sixth in the ACC in assists, eighth in assist-turnover ratio (1.9) and ninth in steals. Can he develop a three point shot to give him a career as a "3-and-D" guy ... or a point forward? He'll probably have to.
White goes Tuesday, Tokoto Wednesday.
Both Florida State's Aaron Thomas and Georgetown's Greg Whittington seemed like they were comfortably headed for the this June's draft before both were dismissed by their college teams on academic grounds.
Thomas, a well built 6'5" shooting guard with long arms, was leading the Seminoles with 14.8 points per game average when he was dismissed in December after academic troubles caught up with him. He was expected to sign in Europe, but there's no indication he did. He is a tough defender who has a great work ethic. A better shooter than finisher.
Whittington, versatile shooting SF at 6'8", was averaging 12.1 points and seven rebounds a game, sharing the wing with Otto Porter. He compounded things by tearing his ACL. Whittington committed to transfer to Rutgers to play for Eddie Jordan but never enrolled in classes at the university. There were rumors that he would play in the D-League this season, but again, no indication he did.
The two, along with several others, are now automatically draft eligible for a variety of reasons. Thomas goes Monday, Whittington Tuesday.
JayVaughn Pinkston, a solidly built 6'7" power forward with good range and 6'6" teammate Darrun Hilliard, a small forward with better range will be showcasing their talents on different days this week --Hilliard Tuesday, Pinkston Wednesday.
Pinkston is a native Brooklynite who dominated the city high school scene in 2010 at Bishop Loughlin, the high school nearest Barclays Center. He was coached there by Khalid Green, now the Nets east coast collegiate scout. Pinkston was named New York's Player of the Year as a senior, played in the McDonald's All-American game and was selected as a second team All-American by Parade Magazine. His career at Villanova was solid if not spectacular. He's 23 years old now and isn't listed on any of the draft boards. DX has him in the 70's in their rankings, so not far out of the second round.
Hilliard is a more accomplished player at the college level. Two years ago, he was named the Big East's most improved player, then this past season, he was Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year and first team All-Big East and was named to the Second Team All-American by The Sporting News. Hilliard paced the Wildcats in scoring with a 14.3 ppg scoring average, using his spot-up three point shooting prowess --41 percent-- and BBIQ. Like his teammate, he's listed in the 70's by DX.
Once the Nets finish this round of workouts, they will examine what they saw and work it into their own mock draft, one that reflects their needs and priorities and is often very different from the draftniks.