The Nets have been hitting the European scouting circuit for months. First it was Gianlucca Pascucci, the director of global scouting, and Danko Cvjeticanin, the international scouting coordinator. Then, in March, Sean Marks spent nine days moving around, hitting games in Spain, Germany, Turkey, Russia and Spain again. After talking with Mikhail Prokhorov and Dmitry Razumov in April, Marks and Kenny Atkinson scouted European games in both Russia and Spain.
Lately, Trajan Langdon, the Nets assistant GM, has been scouting other games in Spain and elsewhere. It’s hard to keep track.
Trying to track where they’ve been hasn’t been easy. Trying to figure out who they’re looking at in a game is difficult. Trying to figure who they like —and who they like enough to sign— is even tougher. Still, based on reports from overseas, mainly from David Pick, the Israeli writer, we’ve put together a list, broken down by free agents and draft prospects. It is no doubt incomplete. We hope it’s accurate.
One thing that does come across: the Nets are interested in European playmakers.
What’ left to say about him? He’s been voted the best player outside the NBA by league’s GMs and a member of the Olympic silver medal-winning 2016 Serbian national team. He’s said he will think about whether to join an NBA team after the Euroleague championships. The Nets have scouted him a minimum of three times, once quietly in November without executives, then twice in a more high-profile manner. In March, Sean Marks, accompanied by international scouting director Danko Cvjeticanin, saw him in Moscow; then in April, the Net pulled out all the stops, with Marks, Kenny Atkinson, Mikhail Prokhorov, Dmitry Razumov and Sergey Kushchenko, the Nets director, sitting courtside. The Nets had moved from scouting to recruiting.
The competition: Nuggets, Jazz and 76ers, whose GM Bryan Colangelo traveled to Moscow last week to scout him.
A prototypical European power forward in that he can shoot like an NBA stretch 4. Melli is also one of Europe’s top rebounders and a good passer. He earned most votes for best forward among Euroleague GM’s. A member of the Italian national team. His numbers aren’t earth-shattering, far from it, but he’s popular among NBA GM’s. Nets have scouted him at least twice once in November, when Bamberg played CSKA, then on Marks nine-day scouting trip in March.
The competition: Hard to tell, but Jazz, Suns, Knicks, Spurs, Rockets and Heat have all scouted him this season.
Twice in the last month, Nets front office executives have been on hand for games where Edwin Jackson, the Spanish League’s leading scorer, has played. Marks started off his March tour of Europe with a game where Jackson, a 6’4” shooting guard scored 27 points. On Sunday, Trajan Langdon was in Gran Canaria, Spain. It’s likely that he was there to take a look at Gran Canaria’s Anzejs Pasceniks, a 7’2” draft prospect. But Gran Canaria was playing Movistar Estudiantes and Jackson had another big game, scoring 26. Jackson has also said he will only accept a guaranteed contract from the NBA. Otherwise, he will seek a big contract from a Euroleague team.
The competition: More likely, the big European teams, CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, Valencia Basket
He is undersized, but he is also fiery in the Argentine way tough-minded and skilled. Campazzo is best known for his play in FIBA tournaments. Various reports over the past six months have Campazzo looking to give it a shot in NBA. He’s accomplished just about everything he can in Spain, being part of Real Madrid teams that won the Euroleague and Spanish League titles in 2015. In the Rio Olympics, he averaged 15.8 points and 5.8 assists, and he competed favorably against NBA players. Kenny Atkinson, at least, was at his game last weekend in Spain on his way back from Moscow.
The competition: At least the Rockets and Bucks.
Hyper-athletic, Honeycutt was the winner for the Turkish League dunk contest. A good rebounder and defender. A star at UCLA, Honeycutt bounced around the NBA. After being drafted by the Kings in the 2011 second round, he bounced back and forth between the Kings and Reno Bighorns before being traded to the Rockets at the deadline in 2013. Houston cut him and he finished the year with the Reno Big Horns, which won the D-League championship. After that, he played in Israel and Russia before signing with Efes. Honeycutt played for Dallas in the summer league last season. While in Europe, he’s improved his outside shooting and consistency. He said in March he will decide whether to pursue the NBA.
The competition: Nuggets, Lakers and Clippers.
One of the top shooters in the Euroleague, Marks saw him on his March trip to Istanbul. A Philadelphia native, he played at Pitt. He’s a good ball-handler who can create space. He has an NBA-ready body who isn’t afraid to sacrifice it. He’s been on NBA radars before, playing for the Austin Toros, the Spurs D-League team, the year they won the D-League title. Last summer, he told Pick that he spoke with 76ers coach Brett Brown and “it was close.” His Turkish coach is David Blatt.
The competition: Would the 76ers still be interested?’
A 6’6” Serbian playmaker who won a silver medal in the Rio Olympics last summer and a silver medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Big and athletic, he’s 26, four years younger than his Serbian teammate, Milos Teodosic. Playing for Red Star in Belgrade last season, Jovic set the Euroleague record for most assists in a game with 19. Earlier this season, he rang up 16 assists in 24 minutes. He is not a big scorer, averaging 7.9 points this season, shooting 29 percent in the Euroleague, 36 percent in the ABA, the regional league that includes many of the former Yugoslav republics. Marks saw him at the end of his March tour, but in the one game Jovic played in front of Marks he saw minimal minutes.
The competition: Unknown
Heurtel has expressed interest in joining the NBA, but has said he doesn’t want to leave Europe for a place at the end of an NBA bench. He has set modest goals, saying he wants to be assured of playing 10 to 15 minutes per game. Although undersized compared to other guards Marks scouted, Heurtel is a solid European performer, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists, a high number for the Euroleague. Back in 2010, the Nets had Heurtel in for a draft workout and liked what they saw. At the time, Gregg Polinsky, the Nets director of player personnel (chief scout) had particularly warm words for Heurtel. Polinsky’s still got that same job.
The competition: Unknown
A solid scorer in the European play, Clyburn plays alongside Wanamaker in Turkey. Marks saw him in March. Clyburn is a crafty scorer with a high BBIQ but a weak outside shot. Undrafted after a couple of seasons at Iowa State, he moved to Germany for the 2013-14 season, then Israel and Turkey where he signed by Darussafaka Dogus. He earned Summer League invites with the Kings and Clippers in 2014 and 2015 but neither led to training camp invites.
The competition: Unknown.
A real marksman (excuse the pun), Theis was scouted by the Nets GM in March. He’s unlikely to be a top line free agent target, but there is NBA talent and he’s coached on the German national teams by Nets assistant coach Chris Fleming.
The competition: Theis auditioned for Sixers, Heat and Wizards last summer.
Whittington is a product of Western Michigan. He played two years with the Pacers and a year in the D-League before heading to Spain in 2016. Whittington appeared in 27 games for Indiana, averaging 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. He played 40 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 11.9 and 7.8 in 2015-16.
The competition: unknown
A Latvian, he is no unicorn, but he looks like a good long term bet. In fact, Chad Ford believes he’s likely to be stashed next season and become a rookie in 2018. In other words, he could become the Nets 2018 draft equivalent. He currently plays for F.C. Barcelona’s second division club, being elevated a couple of weeks ago, hours before Marks arrived in the Catalan capital. He played a little bit and Marks got a look. There was some speculation in the Spanish press that the Barcelona GM called him up just so he’d be available for a Nets look-see. Marks did do a meet-and-greet with his Barcelona counterpart, Rodrigo de la Fuente.
Draft position: He’s been hovering around 20.
He hails originally from Martinque in the French West Indies and plays for Nanterre in the Paris suburbs. He is physically strong and athletic, playing above the rim and running the court with ease. At 21 years old, he likely won’t be a draft-and-stash. As a second rounder, projected anywhere from No. 32 (Draft Express) to 44 (Tankathon) to 56 (NBADraft.net) , he could start off as a two-way player for the Long Island Nets. Gianlucca Pascucci, the Nets director of global scouting, was at Lessort’s game vs. LeMans, a French league contest, two weeks ago.
Draft position: Lessort is all over the draft board, but all in the second round.
Trajan Langdon, the Nets assistant GM, was in Las Palmas in Spain’s Grand Canary Islands Saturday to watch Anzejs Pasecniks, the 7’2” center from Latvia. Pasecniks and Kristaps Porzingis were seen as equal talents when they were teenagers, but Porzingis developed faster. Now it’s Pasecniks’ turn. Pasecniks' frame has taken time to properly fill out. Once very frail, he's put on quite a bit of weight as Draft Express has noted. Pasecniks put on a show with 26 points vs. Movistar Estudiantes. On Sunday, 11 NBA teams sent scouts to watch him play in the Canarys.
Draft position: He’s been languishing around No. 30. Expect him to rise.
There may be other players the Nets were looking at, players whose rights are held by other teams. But that’s a story for another day.