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Can the Brooklyn Nets find the next Isaiah Thomas at No. 55?

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No one actually believes the 55th overall pick will turn the Brooklyn Nets around all on its own. It's a crazy idea that won't stop fans from regularly rolling out the names of those who were drafted that low or lower, in past. Names that belong to a Hall of Famer (Drazen Petrovic at 60)., a future Hall of Famer (Manu Ginobili at 57) and a current All-Star (Isaiah Thomas at 60)

Still, that record doesn’t negate the fact that that anyone who gets picked at that point in the Draft is going to be a crap shoot, at best. For the Nets, any semblance of young talent is a ray of hope for the struggling franchise as they enter their most important off-season since 2012 when they came over from New Jersey.

Kenny Atkinson is now in place as head coach, along with first-year GM Sean Marks and a big part of the new regime will undoubtedly try to make an impact in their first off-season together and the Draft will be their first big challenge. Whether or not we will see the effects may not be instantly knowable. It will have to be unconventional.

Assuming the Nets stay put, the 55th overall pick is miles away from a sure fire hit, but it’s not impossible for the Nets to find that diamond in the rough. We know about Manu Ginobili and Petrovic serving as poster boys for late draft steals. In recent years low picks like Isaiah Thomas and Jordan Clarkson have emerged as key contributors for their respective teams.

Thomas in particular was the NBA’s version of Mr. Irrelevant by having been the 60th and final selection in the 2011 draft, and he’s turned himself into an NBA All-Star. Can the Nets match that? Here are some names that are likely to be called late.

Kay Felder, PG, Oakland

57th overall – Draft Express
51st overall –

One player who could be available has of the some similar characteristics to the Boston Celtic dynamo. Felder is a 5'10" lefty guard but despite that, was the NCAA’s fourth-leading scorer in Division-I basketball, filling it up for 24.4 points per game. The speedy guard with unlimited range also dished out 9.3 assists per game, which led the entire country.

Felder, an AP Third-Team All-American in 2016, was the centerpiece of an Oakland squad who finished (23-12, 13-5 HORIZON) before forgoing his senior year and entering this summer’s draft class.

The Detroit native measured with a 6-foot-2.5 inch wingspan, and an incredible 44-inch vertical leap, which ties the second highest in NBA combine history. With his actual play, the 2016 Horizon League Player of the Year also elevated his overall stock with a solid showing at the combine where he met with several teams including the Nets.

Michael Gbinije, SF, Syracuse

55th overall – Draft Express
41st overall –

Draft Express has had the Nets taking the 6-foot-7 athletic swingman for several weeks now. Michael Gbinije will turn 24 in June. Historically, NBA teams look at a player in their mid-20s and say no. Like stature, some NBA teams ten to duck and cover.when any age above 22 is mentioned.

The former ‘Cuse star averaged 17.5 points per game, which placed him fifth in the ACC, and he also ranked first in steals per game among ACC players with 1.9 thieveries per contest.

Gbinije, who spent his 2011-12 campaign at Duke before transferring to Syracuse, has a game that should translate to the next level. He can flat out shoot from deep, finishing college as a career 38.8% three-point shooter, is a great passer for his position, posting 4.3 assists per game as a senior, and won over Jim Boeheim, so that has to count for something, right?

Gbinije measured at the combine with a 37-foot vertical leap, and a 6-foot-7.5 foot wingspan.

Isaia Cordinier, SG, France

39th overall – Draft Express
44th overall –

Isaia Cordinier is projected to go a little higher in the draft, but these things don’t necessarily always go by design. How many times have we been surprised? It happens every year.

Bottom line, the Nets need young players who could potentially fill it up, and the French native won’t turn 20-years old until late November. The 6-foot-5, 177 pound two-guard is armed with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, serving up a lengthy frame that could defend multiple positions at the next level.

Cordinier has improved his shot while overseas, is another skilled passer despite not being a true point guard, is an explosive athlete that can finish in transition, and play above the rim.

Georges Niang, SF/PF, Iowa State

Undrafted – Draft Express
Undrafted –

Georges Niang is a sleeper who was an extremely productive combo forward at Iowa State. The multi-time All-American played 138 games and scored 2,228 career points, leaving Iowa State as the school’s second leading scorer.

As a senior, Niang averaged 20.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. The All-Big 12 selection demonstrated an uncanny ability score in a variety of ways. He could take defenders off the dribble, finish in transition, score in the post, and knock down three-pointers.

The Nets met with Niang at the NBA Combine.

If selected there’s a decent chance that Niang could put together a better NBA career than the most recent Iowa State draftee, 2012 first-rounder, the very difficult if talented Royce White.

Georgios Papagiannis, C, Greece

50th overall – Draft Express
Undrafted –

A potential hidden gem from overseas, Georgios Papagiannis was a 7'2" shot blocking machine who plays for Panathinaikos in the Greek League and Euroleague. He has a past in American basketball having played in the 2013 Jordan Brand Classic International Game, and played for the Westtown School in West Chester, PA in his junior year of high school.

In 21 Greek League games, the soon to be 19-year old averaged 6.4 points and2.6 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game.

Before electing to remain in Greece in 2015, Papagiannis had scholarship offers from Kentucky, UConn, St. John’s, NC State, Arizona and Oregon among other schools He's got some game.

Isaiah Whitehead, PG, Seton Hall

58th overall – Draft Express
Undrafted –

The sophomore combo guard from Brooklyn really emerged as the Seton Hall Pirates shocked the NCAA world and won a Big East title during March Madness. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard averaged 18.2 points and 5.1 assists per game while earning First-Team All-Big East honors, Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and the Haggerty Award. for best college player in the New York area.

Physically, the Lincoln High School alum will have a size advantage over a lot of point guards at the next level. Along with his solid build, Isaiah Whitehead has a near 6-foot-9 wingspan, with a willingness to bring it on the defensive end of the floor (1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per game as a sophomore). Whitehead also has the ability to knock down three’s with efficiency, finish in transition, and create for others.

He announced he's in the Draft Wednesday and hired Andy Miller as his agent.

It's fair to say the rebuild has to start somewhere (and it did with Sean Kiplatrick's signing). but the Draft will be a test of how creative the Sean Marks - Kenny Atkinson regime --"Markinson" -- can be. Finding the next Thomas, Ginobili or Petrovic is of course the goal.

Realistic? Nah. Worth the effort? Yeah.