Kristaps Porzingis is the best known Latvian big man, a 7’3 “unicorn” according to Knicks fans, a player who can shoot the three, block some shots, run the floor. He and Brook Lopez were the only two seven footers this season with 100 three’s and 100 blocks.
But what if the Nets had their eye on their own unicorn, a 7’2” Latvian with some of those same skills? A FOP, Friend of Porzingis. In his interview with the Glue Guys Monday, David Pick, the international hoops writer, thinks Anzejus Pasecniks might be their most likely “get”. And he notes, another Latvian, 6’9” Rodions Kurucs, is also high on the Nets list.
Asked by Michael Smeltz and Brian Egan who he thought would be the player the Nets could most likely get, he named Pasecniks “number one.” But he noted, the 21-year-old is moving up after having a big game last week in front of reps from 11 NBA teams, including Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon. Pasecniks plays for Gran Canaria in the Spanish League.
“They sent Trajan there and Trajan played in Europe for a very long time and Trajan is extremely involved in the scouting,” said Pick. “'It's we really like this kid. What do you think about him?'“
What’s his game like? And how is like the Knicks’ unicorn?
“He's just a late bloomer compared to Porzingis but growing up, they were really the same thing. A lot people projected that they would grow up together, but Porzingis blew up quicker,” said Pick.
He described the game Langdon attended, along with, among others, R.C. Buford, the Spurs GM and Kevin Pritchard, named this week as Larry Bird’s replacement in Indiana.
“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.
“He's so smart and you see a lot of shades of Porzingis obviously because they are good friends and they talk a lot,” Pick added. “They play for the same national team. He's climbing. He's climbing a lot. I think he was projected early second. I think he's probably first round now. There's no doubt in my mind.”
Pick said he thought Pasecniks was a Spurs-like pick, noting the presence of Buford at the game, that also saw Edwin Jackson, another possible Nets target.
“R.C. Buford is going to that game to see Edwin Jackson. With all due respect to Edwin,” Pick said. “He's going to see a prospect who you're going to stash somewhere and bring him back when everybody's sleeping. And all of a sudden, and down the road, this guy is a six-time all-star!”
Pick added that Kurucs is obviously another player, also a member of the Latvian national team, who interests the Nets.
“The Nets see something in him. He's 6'9". He's only 19 years old. Other guys we're talking about here are 21. Lessort is 21, Pasecniks is 21. This kid is 19. So they have two years advantage over him.”
Sean Marks visited Barcelona back in March to watch Kurucs. The Nets GM reportedly got a special assist from Kurucs’s team so he could see him in person.
Other than Pasecniks and obviously Milos Teodosic, Pick said he thought there was someone on Efes Anadolu in Istanbul who interests Brooklyn.
“There has to be something in Efes in Turkey. Because Trajan went to a game, Sean Marks went to a game to see that same team. Efes has Tyler Honeycutt and Thomas Heurtel. Thomas is a free agent, a French point guard. Tyler had an option for a million dollars next year.”
June 22 cannot come soon enough.