The Nets draft picture is starting to come into focus. They have an additional first rounder and some options in the second round. It’s not clear yet what they will do on June 22, but one thing is clear: Sean Marks finally has some flexibility. That’s a start.
Here are the numbers: Nets now have three picks in the loaded 2017 draft. There are variables attached to each of them and the team could add a second rounder or two between now and June 22. And that’s without the possibility of a Draft Day trade.
As of this morning, the Nets will have the 24th and 26th pick, Boston’s and Washington’s. As the Celtics and Wizards battle for the second seed in the East, their draft picks will jump around. Don’t expect much upward movement, though.
Officially, the Nets swap of picks with Boston, part of the Pierce Garnett trade, is done. That happened last month. The two teams’ records were so far apart that no combination of Nets wins and Celtics losses could have put Brooklyn higher than Boston in the final standings. The Wizard pick is lottery protected, but the Wizards, who are on roll, are days away from clinching a playoff spot. So that’s close to official too.
Despite all the machinations about the Nets’ bare cupboard, they now have seven first round picks in the next seven drafts (but none in 2018). While they have two, as low as they are, seven teams have no first rounder in this year’s draft, seen as one of the best in years. They are Houston, New Orleans, Washington, Cleveland, Golden State, Memphis and the Clippers. They might be in the market.
The Nets situation in the second round is similar in that they won’t have their own pick, which will be the top pick in the round, No. 31. That one goes to Atlanta, the last payment for Joe Johnson. (The lottery doesn’t affect the draft order in the second round.)
They do have the Celtics second rounder, part of the swap. Right now, that’s the 54th pick, six from the bottom. The Nets could add two more: If the Pacers fall out of the playoffs, their second rounder would go to Brooklyn, part of the Thaddeus Young trade last June. As of this morning, the Pacers have only a one-and-a-half game cushion between the playoffs and lottery ... and the Heat are climbing. If Indy fails to make the playoffs, the Nets would be picking at around 45th or 46th. (If the Pacers make the playoffs, the arrangement will continue through 2023).
Also, the Nets have a history of buying second rounders. Since the NBA Draft of 2011, the first where Mikhail Prokhorov was owner and Billy King GM, the Nets have spent nearly $10 million on eight second rounders, from the 31st pick in the 2011 Draft —Bojan Bogdanovic for $1.3 million— through the 42nd pick in the 2016 Draft — Isaiah Whitehead for $3 million and the 55th pick. Five of the other players taken with purchased picks are out of the NBA: Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia taken in 2012; Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson taken in 2014. Juan Pablo Vaulet, the 20-year-old Argentine swingman taken in 2015, is stashed in his home country for now.
The Nets have $3.425 million to spend on Draft Night if they want. They paid Houston $75,000, the minimum, to acquire 23-year-old K.J. McDaniels. That gets deducted from the $3.5 million each team has as cash considerations.
However, teams may not be willing to deal picks in this draft, even second rounders, for cash alone. As noted, the draft is loaded. Also, the new CBA has expanded rosters to 17, the last two of which will be two-way players shuttling between the NBA and the D-League. Teams have to find some ways to fill those spots.
The bottom line is that the Nets, in a development mode, are just as likely to see the picks as assets for later moves. They have flexibility! Would they trade one of their first rounders in 2017 for a first rounder in 2018, when they have no picks? Would they try to combine the two late first rounders to move up a few spaces in the draft, maybe to No. 18 or 19? Would they use their cash to buy a late second rounder just to stash him overseas? The Spurs have been masters at that. They currently have six stashed players. The Nets have Vaulet.
With two first rounders and one second confirmed, a new draft site, Tankathon.com, ranks the Nets picks 14th in their “draft power rankings,” which look at each team’s picks, their placement and number. That ain’t bad considering where we started.
And by our count, Sean Marks has added seven new scouts to the Nets ranks since the summer. Other staffers are being pressed into service as well, all under the veteran director of player personnel, Gregg Polinsky. Marks himself was seen scouting ACC tournament games at Barclays Center this week.
We will do our summaries of mock drafts with player evaluations and videos like always, but it’s going to be fluid even beyond that moment Adam Silver steps up to the podium and says, “With the first pick...”