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Will Nets as well as Knicks have players on Team Latvia?

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FIBA Olympic Basketball Qualifying Tournament Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

The Latvian national team is shaping up nicely as the FIBA European championships approach. There’s Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks star, to anchor the club in the competition. And two European players, both of whom the Nets have scouted (at a high level), will also be on the roster.

Rodions Kurucs, a 6’9” small forward, and Anzejs Pasecniks, a 7’2” center, were scouted by Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon in recent weeks in Spain. Kurucs plays for F.C. Barcelona and Pasecniks for Gran Canaria. Marks flew to Barcelona in March to see the 19-year-old Kurucs and Langdon flew to Tenerife to scout the 21-year-old Pasecniks in April. The Nets European scouting team had looks at both before that.

Brian Lewis recently got ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla’s take on both. Fraschilla will be at the NBA Draft analyzing international picks next month.

First Kurucs...

“I think he has tremendous, tremendous upside. I do. He’s a wing player, well put-together, very skilled, 6’9, 225 [pounds]. Again, he’s just a baby. He’s going to be a very good NBA player. He’s got athleticism, he can shoot it, he’s playing with men already.

“There are glimpses of him being a good NBA player, and where you’re drafting him you’re not drafting him as a potential starter for a couple of years. He’s 19, and by the time he’s 24, you’re going to have a guy who could be a very good NBA player — maybe a starter, at worst a very good rotation guy, and if you’re lucky an All-Star. He has high upside, which is what they’re looking for.”

And Pasecniks...

“He’s a late bloomer. He’s coming on. He’s going to sneak into the first [round]. He’s not as athletic as Porzingis, but he’s just more of a late bloomer than Porzingis. He’s coming on quick. He’s going to play himself into the first round. He’s a reasonably good athlete for 7-2, he can run and jump.

“I don’t want to say he’s Porzingis, but he’s a reasonable facsimile. I don’t want to give the impression he’s unathletic, because he’s not. He gives you length, he gives you shooting, he can protect the rim a little bit. He’s in that sweet spot. He’s more mature [than Kurucs]. I don’t think he’s as good a prospect as the younger kid, but he’s been more of a factor.”

Both have been linked to the Nets in mock drafts, Kurucs the higher of the two. But if the Nets chose Kurucs, he’s likely to be stashed, permitted to stay with Barcelona for at least another year. Marks did speak with Barcelona’s GM on his scouting trip and there was speculation that Barcelona called Kurucs up from Division II hours before Marks showed up just so the Nets GM could take look.

Pasecniks, at 21, would likely be added to the Nets roster if they took him. He had a great game when Langdon (and 10 other NBA scouts) came to see him play at the end of April. David Pick described to the Glue Guys what they saw...

“This kid had 24 and 7 in 21 minutes. He shot 11-of-13 from the field. He was dunking over people. He was spreading out and shooting three's. He gave a ball handoff, curled, faked a pick-and-roll and ran back for the alley oop,” Pick noted.

It’s possible but not likely they’d play in the Las Vegas summer league if the Nets picked them. Their Eurobasket commitments start with practices in July. Latvia’s first game is September 1 in Istanbul vs. Serbia.