Five days till the Draft. Thaddeus Young may let the Nets know by Monday if he's opting in --and getting paid $10.2 million next season, or opting out --and trying for a big bucks payday next June when all that TV money will be available. As of this writing, no word. Then a week from Monday, it's Brook Lopez's deadline and two days later, it's free agency ... and summer league practice. In the interim, expect news at least on the HSS Training Center and possibly the team's D-League plans.
In other words, there's a lot going on. We hope to keep up.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
The Nets were supposed to work out Joseph Young this week, but didn't. He reportedly sprained his ankle and wasn't available. That's too bad. Young is an interesting case. Draft Express thinks he's a late second rounder, putting him at No. 50 this week. ESPN's Chad Ford thinks he's a late first-rounder, ranking him at No. 27. It's odd to have so much disparity in draftnik thinking this late in the process. Young has no problems determining his rank. The 6'2" shoot-first PG thinks he's the best 1-guard in the draft, as he told Andy Katz...
Ducks' Joseph Young said he's draft's best PG. Sprained left ankle at Indiana workout. Shut down, but says no promise. Don't sleep on him.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 18, 2015
He sure can score. He averaged 20.7 points, 4.4 boards, 3.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.5 3-pointers during his senior season at Oregon. And he's reportedly improved his shot since, but who knows. He hasn't worked out much. As Chad Ford notes in his mock draft, suggesting he's a good pick for the Lakers at No. 27.
Young brings something to the table that the Lakers desperately need: shooting. And the fact that he hasn't worked out since the combine is suspicious. Multiple sources believe that a team in the late first round made him a promise in exchange for not working out for other teams. While I have no idea if that's L.A., he is a good get at No. 27.
Let's assume the native of Houston is telling the truth and has no guarantee. He has a lot of what the Nets usually look for in maturity, experience in a big program in a big conference and a whole lot of confidence. But if the other point guards the Nets reportedly like are all gone, might the Nets take a chance? He's a bit undersized, compared to the others and the Nets would like a big point guard.
Other Draft Notes
There's still a lot of uncertainty among the draftniks on certain players, Young being the most extreme, but there are others. Trey Lyles, for example. NBADraft.net's Aaron Smith has him at No. 8; Ford has him at No. 17; Draft Express' Jonathan Givony at No. 13. That's a wide gap up top. Down the bottom, J.P. Tokoto of North Carolina, who the Nets supposedly like, is No. 43 in Draft Express; 46 in NBADraft.net and all the way down at No. 59 in ESPN. What does that tell you? It tells you that things are very fluid.
Next few days, you can expect a few things: lies, misdirections and rumors about medical reports ... some of which could present very serious concerns for GM's.
So that leaves us with our prediction on who we think the Nets will take. So here goes: IF the Nets pick at 29 and IF, as we expect, Delon Wright and Jerian Grant are gone, we think the pick will be Chris McCullough. We tend to agree with Chad Ford who says that without his torn ACL, the 6'10" freshman would be a lottery pick.
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 that when he's healthy, McCullough will live up to his raw potential.
The second round? It's going to be opportunistic. So who knows? Also, we're unsure the Nets will buy a pick with so few solid overseas prospects in the mix.
As for the overall draft sleepers we like Trey Lyles, the 6'10" PF out of Kentucky, and Devin Booker, his 6'6" shooting guard. We also like Mario Hezonja, the 6'8" small forward out of Croatia.
We are also going to predict one trade for the Nets. We have NO first hand knowledge of anything, but the Nets have sealed a deal, either buying a pick or making a trade every year on Draft Night going back to 2008.
On the low end of the spectrum, there are five teams with multiple second rounders that could get sold or dealt. Philly has five; Boston, Minnesota, Utah and Atlanta have two each. (How smart was Philly to stockpile second round picks in a poor draft? Not very.)
On the high end, we're less certain there will be deal involving any of the Nets big contracts, but it should be noted that among those players who've the Nets have seen come and go on Draft Night are Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Despite all their draft machinations --and their (former) strategy of selling out the future for the present-- the Nets haven't done badly the last two years with their rookies. Only 13 of the NBA's 30 teams have had players on the All-Rookie teams, first or second, the last two years and only six have had players make the All-Rookie team both years. The Nets with Mason Plumlee (picked at No. 22) and Bojan Bogdanovic (picked at No. 31), were one of them. The others were the Celtics, Timberwolves, Magic, 76ers and Knicks. Only one team in second group also made the playoffs both years.
Check here throughout the day Thursday.
Speaking of Trades
There's a lively debate among fans in Indiana about whether Larry Bird should accept if Billy King called him and offered the Pacers Mason Plumlee, Jarrett Jack (if necessary,) and the No. 29 pick for the Pacers No. 11 pick and something else. Plumlee IS an Indiana native.
It's mostly driven by speculation based on this Stefan Bondy tweet...
They are trying with goal of moving up in the draft. https://t.co/ovcMYAGILV
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) June 15, 2015
8 points, 9 seconds put up its argument...
Plumlee has the talent to match–if not beat out–any big man options the Pacers would have in the draft. His one downside, however, is his age. At 25, he isn’t old and fits accordingly with Indiana’s core, but younger is always better.
Coming into just his third season, Plumlee still has two years remaining on his rookie deal. To make his contract even more attractive, years three and four are both team options, although it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be worth the $1.4 and $2.3 million.
To fill the backup point guard void, Indiana could agree to take on Jarrett Jack. Brooklyn is looking to shed salary and Jack is set to make $6.3 million in each of the next two seasons. That would be a little less money on the Nets’ payroll, all the while the Pacers get a good backup guard at an affordable cost.
SportsGlory, another Pacer site, suggests the range of picks at No. 11 is just too good to pass on.
There are many reasons why the Pacers should hold onto their pick, and the first one is that they will get a better player than Plumlee is. Even if they choose to draft a player like Myles Turner, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein or Frank Kaminsky, they are all going to be just as good if not better than Plumlee. There is no denying that Plumlee would be an upgrade over Roy Hibbert, but that shouldn’t force Indiana to make a trade.
But the author of the Sports Glory argument says IF the players the Pacers most like at No. 11 are gone, maybe.
What do we think would happen? Larry Bird would hang up the phone.
We expect that the Nets will try to make some headlines this week to counter all the Knick news we'll see between now and Draft Night. Whether the Knicks pick at No. 4 or make a trade, that will the biggest basketball news this week in New York. How to counter? Go Brooklyn.
For starters, this is a good time to update what's going on with the HSS Training Center in Industry City. It's finally moving ahead after a lot of delays, many of them about the challenge of renovating a 100-year-old building. There's a lot of construction visible now, with a crane and a lot of netting.
Also, the Draft could give the Nets an opportunity to lay out their D-League strategy. The Nets would like to return to the D-League sooner rather than later and Billy King has said that they'd like to have the team play, at least, initially, in Brooklyn. (And these two storylines may not be mutually exclusive. Don't be surprised if the Nets D-League team practice at the HSS Center at 148 39th Street.)
There's another reason for the Nets to talk about both: it would help them argue that despite some cost-cutting (or "house-cleaning" as one executive put it), the Nets are still spending money. The training center will cost between $40 and $45 million and getting back in the D-League perhaps another $6 million.
Austin Hollins is not Austin Rivers
When word came Saturday that Austin Hollins, son of Lionel, was headed to the U.S. to join the Nets summer league team, we offered a collective shrug. If anyone was concerned about nepotism on the summer league roster it wasn't us. There's a long tradition of it.
Austin Hollins is certainly qualified. He was the MVP of the NIT last year, then played well in France, if only in the second division of the LNB. He's a 6'4" shooting guard who's athletic and a good defender. He can shoot, too, hitting nearly 40 percent of his three point shots in France and better than 60 percent of his two point shots.
He plays big in big games. He was 6-of-8, including 4-of-6 from three in the LNB second division championship game last Saturday. Moreover, he was part of the rotation that held Timothe Luwawu, the NBA Draft prospect, scoreless. His team lost by one. Last year, he hit the dagger in Minnesota's 65-63 win in the NIT title game, finishing with 19.
And he is motivated.
Excited and thankful for the opportunity to play summer league with the Brooklyn Nets!
— Austin Hollins (@aHolli_20) June 20, 2015
Don't expect him to follow in Austin Rivers footsteps. Rivers was a lottery pick whose father rescued him from a bad fit in New Orleans, after which he excelled under Dad's tutelage. Also, he cost his Dad a second rounder. Sounds like the Nets' price to bring Lionel Hollins' son over for summer league was a plane ticket from Paris. So, while it will add another element to the summer league narrative, it's unlikely that it will affect the Nets roster.
And hey, It's Father's Day!
Here's some highlights from his time in Minnesota.
Another fun fact: the younger Hollins was part of a mix of Memphis high schoolers that included him, Adonis Thomas, the former Nets training camp player and summer leaguer, as well as Bobby Ray Parks Jr., the Filipino star in this week for a tryout, and Jarnell Stokes of the Grizzlies.
The Last Mock is the Techiest Mock
The guys at fivethirtyeight.com, the brainchild of political seer (and Nets fan) Nate Silver, have a lot of fun with sports stats when not figuring out the fate of the nation and this weekend, working with ESPN, took a look at the Draft. They tried to "built a model to predict how well a college player who is ranked among Chad Ford’s Top 100 prospects will perform — according to Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) — during seasons two through five of his NBA career," when a rookie should be at his most efficient relative to his salary.
As noted, the analysis only covers college players, but since there are only two international players in the mix for the first round there's, there''s little difference as far as who's going to get picked. But the order is quite interesting. Some players fall roughly where the fall on mocks like ESPN and Draft Express.
There are exceptions and they jump right out. Justise Winslow of Duke and Stan Johnson of Arizona at Nos. 2 and 3; Dakari Johnson, the Kentucky back up center at No. 6! And two problem children, Cliff Alexander of Kansas and Christian Wood of UNLV, at Nos. 16 and 17. Both Harrison twins in the top 25? The biggest drops in the techmock? Cameron Payne at No. 27; Delon Wright at 32, and close to the top, Jahlil Okafor at No. 4? Who's projected around where the Nets pick? Chris McCullough. We rest our case!
We doubt this will catch on, unless of course the analytic guys take over from the guys with the clipboards.
Once the Draft is over and the summer league team assembled next weekend, the real business of the off-season begins, with free agency. There's a lot of speculation among fans that the Nets will bring back most of last year's core once the team has signed Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. We doubt that VERY much.
Mikhail Prokhorov and Billy King have said their goal is not about getting under the luxury tax threshold. But that WAS their goal at the deadline, when they were about to engineer a series of deals that would have sent Brook Lopez to the Thunder for Reggie Jackson and Jarrett Jack to the Wizards for Martell Webster and a swap of picks.
What do we expect? A lot of moves, many of them unpopular. Best wishes.