The Brooklyn Nets’ true offseason will kick off on June 22nd, at the NBA Draft. For the Nets, this draft is crucial, even though they will select not in the lottery, but at Nos. 22, 27 and 57. Of course, that can change. Only once in the six drafts since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team have they gone through two rounds without a transaction.
Nailing their picks could shorten the Nets’ time in basketball purgatory. Missteps could leave the Nets hamstrung. The last time the Nets made the playoffs was 2015, just two seasons ago. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings haven’t played postseason hoops in over a decade. It ain’t that bad here, right?
While the Nets currently own two late first round selections, and a deep second rounder, they possess flexibility to add more. Here’s where the Nets stand heading into Draft Night, and a little history too. (AKA “The hand we were dealt.”)
Brooklyn owns their first round picks from 2019 onwards, and second round picks after 2020. Those are trade assets, but it’s unlikely Sean Marks deals future assets once more. As per the Stepien rule, teams can’t trade draft picks in consecutive years – but they can include swaps. We know that fact well. Brooklyn also owns the Pacers’ second round pick from last year’s Caris LeVert-Thaddeus Young deal. It’s essentially “reverse protected.” The Nets will only receive the pick if the Pacers miss the playoffs. Nuance.
Joe Harris, Sean Kilpatrick, Spencer Dinwiddie, Quincy Acy and Archie Goodwin all have nonguaranteed deals for next season with specific trigger dates. K.J. McDaniels has a team option to be decided on June 24th. Non-guaranteed deals and team options are ideal for teams attempting to save money. The Nets also own the rights to Juan Pablo-Vaulet, their 2015 second round stash.
Other members of Brooklyn’s 2016-2017 roster are expiring contracts after next season. Brook Lopez, Trevor Booker and Justin Hamilton will all be free agents after 2017-2018. Jeremy Lin has a player option next summer. The Nets could trade these vets to contenders seeking rentals for the playoff push.
Perhaps the Nets’ most enticing draft night asset is their cap space. They could generate up to $33 million in cap space, per HeatHoops. As has been mentioned frequently, the Nets could be in the market for salary dumps, trading their own cheap assets for larger deals. But of course, the risk and reward of salary dumps must be weighed.
Draft Pick History
For more draft pick history, check out Bryan Fonseca’s latest!
22nd Pick – Over the last 20 years, no player selected with pick number 22 has averaged over 12 points per game in his career. The most productive players stemming from No. 22 since 1996 are former Nets Mason Plumlee (a 2013 Billy King pick) and Courtney Lee (2008). Solid pros Kenneth Faried (2011), Jared Dudley (2007) and Jarrett Jack (2005) are a few others that have carved out roles in the NBA. Previously, the Nets selected Zoran Planinic (2003) and Marcus Williams (2006) with the 22nd pick. Those didn’t work out too well.
27th Pick – The most productive player taken with the 27th pick in the past 20 years is Rudy Gobert, an All-NBA caliber center and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, drafted in 2013. Other rotation players drafted at 27 include DeMarre Carroll (2009), Arron Afflalo (2007) and Kendrick Perkins (2003). Perhaps the best 27 pick is Dennis Rodman, drafted in 1986 - then a second rounder. The Nets have never made a draft selection at 27.
57th Pick – Manu Ginobili, a surefire Hall of Famer and ageless wonder, was selected with the 57th pick in 1999. The second-most productive player drafted at 57 is Marcin Gortat, a solid NBA starter. Ginobili and Gortat are the only two players since 1996 drafted at 57 to play over 65 NBA games. Previously, the Nets drafted Ilkan Karaman at 57 in 2012, whose rights they dealt to Cleveland in the Jarrett Jack/Sergei Karasev deal. The Nets may just be looking for a player to crack the roster with selection 57 or want to replenish their stock of draft-and-stash..
The first round of this year’s draft is chock full of big men. In the latest DraftExpress mock draft, 13 of the 16 non-lottery first rounders project as NBA bigs or are best suited to play “small ball” power forward, with eight projected centers.
Outside of the top ten, this draft is particularly shallow in point guards. After Frank Ntilikina, slated as the tenth pick, the next predicted PG selection is Colorado’s Derrick White at 30.
In the second round, there are a fair amount of potential “3-and-D” players. These players range from 6’5” to 6’8” with positional versatility, but obvious flaws. Several of these players are upperclassmen that were initially overlooked, but have produced on the collegiate level.
With a glut of bigs, some potential top-20 picks could slide into the Nets’ reach. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress mentioned that recently. Additionally, some wing prospects could hear their name called much earlier than projected with many teams set at their big positions.
Overall, this draft is strong in the lottery, but seemingly average outside of it. Most players projected outside the lottery have major holes in their games, or may be recovering from injury, as with any draft. There are no Draymond Green-types in the second round (productive collegiate players that teams are simply puzzled by), but we won’t know that for a while.
As for the Nets’ strategy, Sean Marks has shown his willingness to reach in the draft for talent. Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead were slated as mid-late second round picks for most of draft season, but were selected at 20 and 42 respectively. LeVert dropped due to recurring foot issues, and Whitehead promising, but inconsistent at Seton Hall.
Judging from the 2016 draft and this season’s roster signings, the Nets emphasize length and versatility in their players. Ideally, Kenny Atkinson’s offensive and defensive systems are fluid. Borrowing from Bruce Lee, the Nets on-court style “must be shapeless, formless, like water.” And of course, culture matters. (Drink.) The Nets’ pre-draft workouts have also emphasized players that can shoot, regardless of position.
50 Prospects. Detailed.
I’ll be profiling 50 NBA Draft Prospects over the next week, through various channels. Fifty? Yes, 50. Excessive? Maybe. Thorough? It seems like the Sean Marks thing to do.
In choosing prospects, I profiled players that would be in the Nets’ range. There will be no profiles on the surefire top players - Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, etc. Highly coveted players like Donovan Mitchell and O.G. Anunoby will be touched upon, but not in detail.
While the Nets could move up in the draft, they may not have the assets to slide into the top-10. It’s a talent-laden draft, but outside of the top-12, mock drafts and transaction predictions vary tremendously.
Could Sean Marks acquire a late lottery selection? As a former Net said, “Anything is possible.”
My goal with this? To see the Brooklyn Nets online community thrive. Things definitely haven’t been ideal as a Brooklyn Nets fan (especially around draft time), but there’s a lot to be optimistic about. That starts with the draft. Here’s a schedule of where and when you can find each section of my draft profiles…
Thursday, June 15 - 1st Round Guards (Brook-Lin.com)
Friday, June 16 - 1st Round Wings (TheBrooklynGame.com)
Saturday, June 17 - 1st Round Bigs (NetsDaily.com)
Sunday, June 18- 2nd Round/Sleeper Guards (Brook-Lin.com)
Monday, June 19- 2nd Round/Sleeper Wings (TheBrooklynGame.com)
Tuesday, June 20 - 2nd Round/Sleeper Bigs (NetsDaily.com)
Wednesday, June 21 - Power Rankings (16WinsARing.com)
Thursday, June 22 – 2017 NBA Draft!
Post-draft, I’ll give a ranking of 2017’s top undrafted players. And of course, I’d be happy to discuss any of the players I didn’t include in my 50. Stay tuned, and happy draft season!
The Ringer NBA Draft Guide (http://nbadraft.theringer.com/)
NBA Scouting Live (https://www.nbascoutinglive.com/)
@GNYR_82 on Twitter (The Brooklyn Nets Eagle Eye)