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A week to go, Nets Draft picture still unclear

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets got some bad news Thursday.  Rashad Vaughn, the 18-year-old UNLV shooting guard, decided against working out for the Nets. "Mocked" at around No. 20, he would have been the highest ranked prospect to show his stuff to the Nets brass.

So did Richaun Holmes, the 6'10" power forward out of Bowling Green who's a mid second round prospect. With Michael Qualls, another 6'5" shooting guard out of Arkansas out with an ACL issue, the Nets were left with only three prospects, none likely to be drafted.

With a week to go before Barclays Center is filled with screaming fans --most of whom are likely to be Knick partisans, things are still unclear, but rumors are on the rise.  Here's a few things to ponder...

--No player has been more associated with the Nets pick at No. 29 than Chris McCollough, the 20-year-old 6'10" forward out of Syracuse. More mock drafts have put his name next to "Brooklyn" than any other player, and that includes ESPN's Chad Ford and Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, the two most knowledgeable draftniks.  There are problems with McCollough, the biggest being his torn ACL.  In his latest mock draft, Ford notes that could work to the Nets advantage...if they want to take a risk.

McCullough tore his ACL and will likely miss most of the NBA season. But there is lottery talent there and given the Nets' atrocious draft pick situation in the coming years, they need to take a half-court heave here and hope, when healthy, McCullough can live up to his raw potential.

But would the Nets take a power forward who might not play much before mid-season?

--One Nets insider, asked a few weeks back about the team's priorities, responded "point guard, point guard, point guard," but as the draft process moves on, a lot of the Nets targets, particularly Cameron Payne of Murray State and Jerian Grant of Notre Dame, have moved up, in Payne's case way up. Delon Wright has been consistently ranked in the lower to mid 20's. None of those three have been in.

Only more significant point guard prospect is due to work out with the Nets, according to reports. That's Joseph Young of Oregon, who's rank is all over the place, with Ford putting him in the 20's and others dropping into the 50's.

--Billy King has said he hopes to move up, but he also noted he goes into every draft thinking that way.  Stefan Bondy has reported the Nets have offered Mason Plumlee around.  How high?  One would think Plumlee and the No. 29 pick could get them close to or into the lottery.

Who might they like up there (other than Payne, who's now listed at No. 14, or Grant, now listed at No. 19? In an interview Wednesday with ESPN Upstate, an ESPN affiliate in Spartanburg, NC., former assistant GM Bobby Marks said the Nets liked Devin Booker, the 6'6" Kentucky swingman, "a lot."  Booker, the youngest player in the Draft at 18, is now pegged at No. 9 in both the ESPN and Draft Express mocks.   Hard to imagine that the Nets could get that high using Plumlee and the No. 29 pick.

There's something else as well. This is a very top-heavy draft, with many saying that after No. 15, you're not likely to get anyone who can help immediately and forget about the second round!  While Tony Parker and Toni Kukoc were taken at No. 29, so was Marquis Teague.

--Other than Kristaps Porzingis, the 7'1" Latvian center/power forward, and Mario Hezonja, the 6'8" Croatian small forward, there are no likely international picks in the first round.  One league source says he can't recall a worse year for international prospects.  What that means is that the Euro-Stash market is thin as well.  Some of those seen as most likely Euro-Stash, players like  6'7" Timothe Luwawu and 6'11" Alpha Kaba, both Frenchmen, dropped out.

With this in mind, would it be smart for the Nets --or other teams-- to buy a second rounder to stash?  It costs nothing, beyond the price of the pick, in the short run, of course. But if there are limited chances a player taken that late will make the NBA. why bother?

Who else do we think they like? Other than the point guards and Booker? We don't know, but we've heard rumblings about R.J. Hunter, of Georgia State; J.P. Tokoto of North Carolina; and Anthony Brown of Stanford. Of course all this could all be academic. The Nets could make a deal or series of deals and move up.

As for all the speculation, all the mock drafts, one insider said simply that he found them "funny."