It's hard to make sense of what went on earlier this week at the Nets mini-camp, held at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn. The Nets did not release anything on the "campers," not their number or names. No reporters were invited to watch or talk to staff. (Same is true of Draft prospects). We found out the identities of only 13 players, maybe a representative sample, maybe not.
But one thing we're fairly confident about: One camper's background didn't fit with the rest of those we looked at: Anthony Bennett. He is the youngest prospect we found, at 23. He is the only one we found who had been drafted, the only one with extensive NBA game experience. Bennett is also the only player we found without a U.S. passport. He's Canadian, of course.
Does all that mean anything? We think (speculate) that it probably does. The reality is that with all his flaws and faults, Bennett has a record, a highlight reel ... possibilities as a rotation player. He is exactly the kind of prospect the Nets need to find. That is not to say he's a lock for a summer league invite, the next step for these guys. Not is it to suggest that he doesn't have other teams interested. We don't know.
So, beyond Bennett, what else did we learn from this exercise? As noted, through social media, we learned the identities of 13 of the players invited (and no, we don't even know if they all showed up). What percentage of the total is that? Again, hard to know. Two years ago, the Nets held a similar mini-camp and 31 players were invited.
Still, for fun's sake, here's some data points based on that sample...
--All but one of those whose identities we learned are Americans who have played both overseas and in the D-League. They all went undrafted, again unlike Bennett, the overall No. 1 in 2013.
--There were a number of point guards invited, most of them D-Leaguers with solid credentials but few opportunities to make it in the NBA. Quinn Cook, the Dukie, is probably the best bet. At the end of last season, he was listed as the D-League's top prospect ... but did not get a call-up. Like others worked out, he's a bit undersized.
--Stretch 4's also seemed to be valued, with a number of the campers bigs who can step out and hit the three, at least overseas (where the line is shorter.)
--The age range was more mid-20's than early 20's, with most of them playing four years in college, then tried to ply their trade with whatever team would have them. These are serious basketball vagabonds trying to keep their dream alive.
What do we admit we don't know? A number of those whose identities we didn't learn may very well be international players. In 2014, the two best players in that camp were European point guards Mantas Kalnietis of Lithuania and Edwin Jackson of France. Also, the better players invited might not want their workouts publicized. They don't need the notoriety like the less established.
All that said, here are thumbnail sketches of the 13 players we did find.
--Anthony Bennett, 23, is a 6'8" power forward out of UNLV, Bennett never panned out. In his rookie season, he averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds. Then, in July 2014, he became part of the trade that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland and brought him and fellow Canadian Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota. In Minnesota, he did only marginally better, averaging 5.2 and 3.8 but Bennett was bought out the next off-season. He got yet another chance with his hometown team, the Raptors, but once again, was bought out after a mediocre season and multiple assignments to the D-League.
--Quinn Cook, 24, was point guard for the Blue Devils' national championship squad in 2015 and after going undrafted --and being cut by the Cavaliers in training camp-- chose to play for the D-League's Canton Charge, winning the D-League Rookie of the Year this season ... and garnering third team All-D-League honors. The 6'2" Cook averaged 19.6 points and 5.4 assists to go with 3.9 rebounds in 43 games while shooting 47 percent from the field and connecting on a team-high 86 three-pointers.
--Alex Stepheson, 28, played at USC and North Carolina before spending time in Greece, Slovenia and Turkey, then returning to the D-League's Iowa Energy. The 6'10" PF had 10-day tours with the Clippers and Grizzlies. He was named first team All-D-League, averaging 15.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 34.3 minutes in 26 games,
--Scotty Hopson, 26, has played in Greece, Israel, Turkey, Spain and most recently China A 6'7" SF, he also had a brief tour with the Cavaliers in 2014 before being traded, the first time to Charlotte, then to New Orleans, Houston and Sacramento, which cut him. He started out last season in Foshan, China, averaging 22.1 points and 5.6 rebounds. He's a Tennessee product.
--Alex Kirk, 24, is a 7-footer with NBA experience, playing seven games with the Cavaliers in 2014-15 in between assignments to the Canton Charge. The New Mexico product was traded to the Knicks in January 2015 in the J.R. Smith - Iman Shumpert deal, then cut two days later. He played this season in Italy for Pistola, averaging 16 points and 7.6 rebounds, shooting 52.7 percent overall and 38 percent from deep.
--Jerrelle Benimon, 24, is another big who played in China this past season. A 6'8" stretch 4, Benimon averaged 25 points per game, shooting nearly 40 percent from thee. After playing collegiately at Georgetown for two years, he transferred to Towson. Although not drafted in 2014, he hooked up with the Idaho Stampede where he averaged 19.8 points and 11 rebounds. He was All-D-League first team before heading to China.
--Fuquan Edwin, 24, is a local product, having grown up in Paterson, NJ, and played collegiately at Seton Hall, where he was one of the top defensive players in the Big East as a swingman, earning Defensive Player of the Year his senior year in 2014. Undrafted, he was in Spurs training camp, being the last player cut. He's played in the D-League and with Nes Ziona of the Israeli League since, improving his offense while at the same time maintaining his defensive rep.
--D.J. Newbill is a 6'4" Penn State product, a PG who's played in Turkey and France. He turned 24 last weekend, just before mini-camp. Newbill, a tenacious rebounder and defender, he can play both guard positions. Undrafted in 2014, he's pursued an NBA career by playing well, particularly on defense, overseas. He's improved his three point shooting as well.
--Will Cummings, 23, is one of several D-League PG's the Nets brought in. A 6'2" Temple product, he played a full season in the D-League with Rio Grande Valley, the Rockets affiliate and played in Italy as well. Seen as undersized, he went undrafted, but averaged 20.5 points per game in 52 D-League games. He also averaged 4.7 assists and shot well --53.7 percent overall and 37.7 percent from three. A native of Jacksonville, Florida.
--Jarrid Famous, 27, is a 6'11" South Florida product, a PF who's played across the world for teams in the D-League, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, China, Lebanon, Bahrain and Venezuela. He's had summer league tryouts with a number of NBA teams. He's got great overseas rebounding credentials, averaging double-doubles in the Philippines, Lebanon, China and D-League. His best year may have been two years ago when he averaged a double-double for both the Texas Legends and Iowa Energy in the D-League. He can step out and occasionally hit a three. A Bronx native, he also holds Lebanese citizenship as well. He played for the Lebanese national team in 2012.
--Victor Rudd, 25, is 6'9" South Florida PF, who's played in Russia and the D-League. This past season, he was named to the second team, All-Eurocup, after averaging 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for Nizhy Novograd in the Russian league, almost identical to what he averaged in the D-League the year before. An athlete with ambition and a willingness to accept the grind.
--Josh Magette, is a 6'1" PG from Alabama-Huntsville, where he was a Division II first team All-American. He led the D-League this season in assists and steals playing for the L.A. D-Fenders, who lost in the Finals. He's 26. He's played overseas as well with teams in Greece and Germany. A pass-first point guard, he's willing to sacrifice his body going inside. Not much of an outside shooter.
--Joel Wright, the 6'7" Texas State SF who was born in Brooklyn 26 years ago. He's been a D-League standout for the past two years, playing for the Iowa Energy, Bakersfield Jam, the Idaho Stampede and Delaware 87ers. Not much of an outside shooter, he gets his points with his athleticism.
Oh yeah, one other thing: David Pick, who supplied a lot of these names, tweeted the Nets are planning another camp.