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Nets Draft 2017 – Draft Guide - 10 Bigs to Bet On

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Part of a daily series on prospects to watch for the 2017 NBA Draft, catered to the Brooklyn Nets’ tastebuds.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Troy v Duke Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This year’s NBA Draft is littered with big men of all shape, size and skill. Post-lottery, that becomes evident as a majority of picks 15-30 projected as big men. Prospects that project as stretch 4s, defensive stoppers and lobs-and-blocks bigs live in the post-lottery first round in many mock drafts.

It’s may be likely that Brooklyn selects a big man at pick 22, 27, or both. Sixteen recent NBA mock drafts have Sean Marks and his staff selecting a big with at least one of their first round selections. While the Nets may need a dose of talent at every position, going big in this year’s Draft could be the best option, with the free agent big man market depleted (and likely overpriced), and the Nets featuring only two players taller than 6’10” in 2016-2017.

Here’s a look at 10 big men that could hear their name called as the newest Brooklyn Nets next Thursday. (Sorted by style.)

Out of Range, Out of Mind?

The Collins Brothers (not actual brothers – and not the Collins brothers you were thinking of), Zach and John, are two exciting mid-first prospects. Chad Ford, DraftExpress Bleacher Report and The Ringer all have the two picked within the top-20. At Gonzaga, Zach produced in limited minutes, showing a little bit of everything. He was a key bench player on a talented Bulldog squad, opening eyes with his fluidity, mobility and IQ. He shot well from the perimeter while also complementing his game with some advanced post moves. The Gonzaga one-and-done plays with a mean streak, although that would occasionally lead him to commit ticky-tack fouls. At worst, Z. Collins could be a high-level role player with an intriguing skillset and with lots of his game still uncovered.

John Collins was one of the most productive big men in college basketball. He hustled and rebounded every game for Wake Forest, averaging nearly a triple double on fantastic percentages. He also impressed at the NBA Draft Combine, showing tremendous leaping ability and quick feet. But he is far from a modern NBA big, shooting 0 three-point shots this season. J. Collins also was a lackadaisical defender, not using his physical tools at all, and seemingly lacking the sheer awareness to compete on defense. 20 years ago, Collins may have been a top-10 pick. There’s a good possibility his production leads him to a top-20 selection, but his NBA fit seems awkward at first glance.

Lobs and Blocks

Bam Adebayo

As Bryan Fonseca would say, “BAM, BAM, BAM!” The Kentucky one-and-done prospect is “lobs and blocks” personified. Adebayo’s physical dimensions are fantastic for a 19 year old, with a 39-inch vertical to pair with a 7’3” wingspan. His NBA-ready body could indicate an immediate rotation spot. Adebayo runs the floor hard, finishing above the rim often. He sets strong screens and dives to the rim quickly. His motor is tremendous, averaging almost as many offensive rebounds as defensive boards. His motor and wingspan showcase his tremendous upside on the defensive side.

Of course, Adebayo’s game possesses flaws. His physical profile is impressive, but he lacks nuance on both ends. He shot only 34 shots outside the restricted area in his 34 games with John Calipari’s squad. A recent workout video of Adebayo showed him drilling perimeter jumpers comfortably. But those shots were in a 1-on-0 situation, not an intense 5-on-5. Adebayo’s offensive game is seemingly limited to dunks and sheer overpowering of defenders in the post. He may need to add a consistent hook shot against NBA competition. Defensively, he struggled in the pick and pop and often would ball-watch, allowing easy baskets for opponents.

“Lobs and Blocks” is a buzzword for the Nets’ talent search. Adebayo, while still raw as a prospect, could bring athleticism and energy to the Nets. He may buck the Nets’ preference of skilled big men, but Adebayo’s defensive upside and all-around energy could help a team that struggled with rebounding and interior finishes all season. Adebayo is a “modern” big that may be lacking in key areas, but excels in areas of need for the Nets.

Ike Anigbogu

Another lobs and blocks player? Comin’ right up. Anigbogu was a role player in the Lonzo Ball-led Bruins, averaging menial minutes. But his stock has risen due to his measurements and motor. Anigbogu is filled out with a huge wingspan, and will be a load to move around the post or in the pick and roll. He rebounded like a madman, averaging 4.2 offensive and 12.4 total per 40 minutes. He swatted lots of shots, one of the most productive shot blockers in the NCAA on a per-minute basis. Anigbogu’s timing on blocks should translate, not relying only on length. Offensively, Anigbogu will likely thrive in the pick and roll, diving hard to the rim and finishing through contact. He’s also still 18!

In Anigbogu’s limited minutes, he showed some major holes. Like Adebayo and Allen (and others), Anigbogu is raw, possibly the most raw first round big prospect. He often got lost offensively, unaware of proper positioning. He committed lots of fouls at UCLA (7.5 per 40!), often with illegal screens and over the back fouls. He was productive, but limited finishing at the rim. Anigbogu is another player that shot worse at the free throw line than at the field, so his offense may never develop past dunks and rim runs.

Anigbogu projects as another project (isn’t the English language weird) big. If he becomes a Brooklyn Net, he may need lots of time in/on Long Island for the foreseeable future. His production in limited minutes was impressive, looking the part of a rim protecting, versatile defensive center. But he does have a long way to go learning the nitty gritty details of the NBA game. That could be the difference in him projecting as a top-20 selection, or falling into the Nets’ clutch at 22 or 27.

Promising Projects

Jarrett Allen

Like Adebayo, Jarrett Allen has the potential to fit a “lobs and blocks” NBA role. Keyword, potential. Allen is raw, and played out of position at power forward for a struggling Texas squad. As an NBA center, Allen will have more room to showcase his developing interior game. Allen’s wingspan is sick. He was a solid shot blocker on rotations, and his sheer length led him to average over 10.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. He projects as a solid rebounder, and fouled at a low rate for a raw big. Allen also excelled at pick and roll, setting nice screens for his guards. Allen showed a developing jumper (40% from the corners), projecting him as more than just a player that strictly dives to the rim. Allen was also fairly mobile, moving well laterally, a key defensive attribute.

Allen could drop from his top-20 projections due to his lack of basketball IQ. He turned the ball over quite a bit on offense, and lacked toughness on the interior. He was a poor free throw shooter, possibly indicating a flaw in his overall mechanics that needs to be corrected. So much so that his overall field goal percentage was better than his free throw percentage. Yikes. Defensively, Allen struggled with advanced concepts like pick and roll switches and closeouts. Allen will also need a bit of time to fill into his large frame, and was a late bloomer as a prospect in high school as well.

Allen is a project big. The Nets are not in “win-now” mode, so they could take a chance on a raw, but intriguing center. He could be a player that sees more time in the G-League (sponsored by Gatorade) as a young prospect. Allen could be an intriguing player to develop at pick 22, with potential as more than just an energy big.

Tony Bradley

Do you like hyperbole? One YouTube search result for Tony Bradley brings up a video titled “Tony Bradley - Big Fundamental 2?” Bradley may not be Tim Duncan, but he is a throwback big. The UNC freshman played limited minutes on a National Champion UNC squad, yet has warranted enough interest to emerge as a first round pick. Bradley has nice technique down low, boxing out off misses and showing a solid touch around the rim. He sets screens well and has good hands. Nearly half his boards came from the offensive end. Defensively, Bradley covers a lot of ground with quick feet and long arms. He defends the pick and roll intelligently, with solid knowledge of rotations and containing ballhandlers. His size will be a huge plus on both ends, so while he may not be a star, he could stick in the league for a long time.

Bradley is the first player profiled here that doesn’t project as a “lobs and bigs” player. He measured a subpar vertical leap (27”), and isn’t a quick leaper either. Bradley also showed little semblance of a perimeter game, with an inconsistent jumper and weak free throw percentage. His post-up game may need a bit of development as well against much larger NBA athletes. Defensively, Bradley wasn’t much of a shot blocker or enforcer – he projects to be a smooth athlete, rather than an imposing one at his size.

Tony Bradley is a player that has risen across draft boards. At the Draft Combine, he met with the Nets, so there could be interest there. The Nets are working him out this week. His ceiling is as a long, aggressive inside presence. If he can refine his offensive skill, Bradley could become a solid starter in the league. While his skill and athleticism may be limited, he did show strong awareness overall. The Nets’ decision between skill and athleticism could be a major question heading into the draft.

Harry Giles

We know the story on Harry Giles. A former number one high school player, Giles fell out of top pick contention. At his best, Giles is a versatile two-way player, with enough quickness to defend switches and the size to shake rims on offense. Pre-Duke, Giles showcased an advanced handle, scoring off the dribble with crafty, guard-like precision. While those skills may be unproven after numerous injuries, he did rebound well in his lone Blue Devil year. He attacked as a roll man pretty well and displayed a nice motor. His prototypical frame will aid in potentially becoming a rim protector, although his explosiveness is still a concern.

Giles’ year at Duke was far from impressive. He scored in double figures twice, and notched double digit rebounds once. Yes, his role was limited, but his previous athleticism was rarely there. His horrible free throw percentage (although with only 24 attempts) stemmed from him seemingly tentative to even bend his knees. That’s troubling. After missing so much time (essentially two years) due to injuries, he may have missed crucial development time. His awareness was simply lacking in more nuanced areas, including rotations and closeouts defensively, and positioning and screens offensively. Very few NBA players have recovered from two ACL injuries, although there have been some success stories in pro football. The one exception, DeJuan Blair had such a strong lower body that he simply overpowered his lack of ACL’s (not a joke.)

Harry Giles has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the draft. But of course, Giles’ development has seen many roadblocks and hindrances. The Nets have gambled on injury risks before. But if Giles is in range at the Nets’ pick, Sean Marks may want to roll the dice and bet on upside, rather than production.

Justin Patton

Patton is a late-bloomer. He was barely scouted as a division I prospect, but impressed enough at Creighton with flashes of brilliance and tons of potential. Patton has ideal big man size and a developing frame that should fill out over time. His athleticism led to easy baskets, simply taller and quicker off the floor than his undersized opponents. That led to an outrageous field goal percentage. Patton has super versatile potential offensively, even displaying solid low-post passing, albeit in limited doses. Even if his offensive game never substantiates, he could be a great defender due to his frame. He was effective as a rim protector and long enough to swipe or intercept post passes. Chris Mullin even called Patton “Marcus Camby.”

But like many of his first round big counterparts, Patton is RAW. His overall feel is lacking, often committing over-aggressive fouls defensively and getting lost offensively. He was a liability from the free throw line, disappointing for a player that could develop a jumper. His still-developing frame could get pushed around in the paint quite a bit, as he’s lacking in overall strength. At times, Patton looked awkward offensively, possibly a symptom of relative high-level inexperience. Additionally, Patton lacked intensity on the glass, lacking in technique and simply reaching over others for rebounds. That may not fly in the NBA.

Patton is a player that could eventually blossom into a skilled starting center, or could be out of his depth as an NBA player. It will be up to his NBA team’s development staff to harness the bright spots in his game. If a Brooklyn Net, Patton won’t have the pressure to contribute right away, with lots of time to fully realize his potential. If he drops out of the top 20, Patton could be a big-time selection for Brooklyn.

Stretch It Out

T.J. Leaf

Another Lonzo Ball teammate, Leaf is a solid, skilled, power forward. Leaf was extremely productive as a shooter, both inside and outside the three-point line. He shot over 50% at the top of the key and at the right wing, which may translate well to a stretch role in the NBA. One caveat for his shooting was the small sample size (53 threes attempted in 2016-2017.) Leaf hustles, leading to solid rebounding performances and second chance buckets. An underrated aspect of Leaf’s game was his ability to attack off the dribble. He also made the right pass often. As a potential stretch big, his ability to attack closeouts and change things up aside from shooting adds diversity to his overall game. He also projects well as a pick and pop big, ranking in the 93rd percentile, per Synergy.

Leaf may struggle on the defensive end. UCLA employed a zone scheme often in 2016-2017, so his full repertoire may not have been revealed. He was often a step late and a beat too slow on rotations, especially on perimeter closeouts. He’s a decent straight-line runner, but rates poorly moving laterally. Leaf struggled fighting through screens, which could be a big detriment if his future team employs lots of switching. His relative lack of bulk could hamper his potential, and may cut into his effectiveness scoring inside and rebounding on both ends.

T.J. Leaf isn’t just a byproduct of Lonzo Ball’s tremendous playmaking. While it helps to have a passing phenom, if chosen by the Brooklyn Nets, Leaf could be a solid role player going forward. He showed success on his own as a skilled offensive player. Defensively, his lack of athleticism may be a caveat that could have the Nets going with upside, rather than skill. Leaf’s production on the collegiate level may be too much for the Nets to pass up, especially at 22 or 27.

Leaf would be the second Israeli citizen to play in the NBA.

D.J. Wilson

Wilson may fill the role of dynamic stretch 4 perfectly. Wilson shoots well as a spot-up and pick-and-pop option. He hustles on both ends, picking up sneaky offensive rebounds when he’s not taking perimeter jumpers. Wilson is also pretty fluid, seemingly coordinated running pick and roll on offense and defending it on the other end. Despite his lanky frame, Wilson was a productive shot blocker, averaging 2.0 per 40 minutes, in part due to his plus wingspan. He also showed nice instincts defending opponents off the ball, closing out well. He hypothetically could be a solid rim protector, and could move to the center spot in several NBA schemes.

Despite his nice measurable and solid shot blocking, Wilson could struggle against NBA competition at the 4 and 5 slots. The Michigan sophomore wasn’t a prolific rebounder despite his high motor. He often was overpowered against larger college competition defending the post and finishing inside. 21 years old, Wilson may not get that much bigger, which could be an issue. Additionally, Wilson was prone to poor decisions offensively, taking contested shots early in the shot clock. He may be a little one-dimensional as a pro, a strict spot-up shooter.

Could the Nets pick a Michigan prospect two years in a row? Wilson fits the Nets’ profile - long, versatile, with range. He may need to diversify his offensive game, but the Nets’ coaching staff has shown dedication to carving new skills for their players. D.J. Wilson has the potential of a solid NBA role player, and could be the low-risk, high-reward chance the Brooklyn Nets bite on.

International Bigs

Isaiah Hartenstein

Is he basketball’s Christian Pulisic? No, maybe not. But will Isaiah Hartenstein develop into a solid NBA player? Maybe! Hartenstein recently turned 19, but has showcased solid potential. He rebounded aggressively, with a high motor and sheer nastiness down low. Hartenstein throws down nasty dunks off lobs and rim runs, a key NBA skill, if you haven’t noticed. His vertical leap may not have been impressive in combine-type settings, but he gets off the ground quickly – a trait more important than sheer verticality. Hartenstein runs the floor well, handling and finishing in transition. One of the most intriguing aspects of Hartenstein’s game is his court vision. He throws Kevin Love-style full-court passes, finding teammates in stride for easy baskets. The Oregon-born German could be a solid rim protector due to his length and aggressiveness. (Here’s a question: who’s more “international” — a player born in Oregon but raised in Germany and who played in Lithuania or a player born in Israel but raised in California and who played at UCLA? Discuss.)

Hartenstein didn't play much for Zalgiris, and may need a bit more time to marinate. Right now, his potential is intriguing, but the production wasn’t really there. Hartenstein’s jumper looks solid, but he shot poorly outside the restricted area. He tends to play risky at times, committing turnovers on some passes and fouling a little carelessly when on the perimeter defensively. Additionally, he needs to become more disciplined defending the post, often-falling victim to sly pump fakes of Euroleague bigs. One weird thing that could plague Hartenstein is his poor posture. He’s 7-feet tall, but he hunches over quite a bit. (Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer said “he looks like he plays video games 8-hours everyday.”)

Many mock drafts have linked Isaiah Hartenstein as a Brooklyn Nets draft selection. The potential is definitely there, but he has to continue working on his jumper and overall maturity as a pro. He fits the Nets’ four-out scheme, and could bring energy and rebounding right away. Hartenstein is intriguing in a vacuum, and has upside as a dynamic big. That may be good enough for the Nets.

Anzejs Pasecniks

Pasecniks wowed people with a recent draft workout in Los Angeles. The intrigue on the Latvian giant only increased after DraftExpress posted a brief video of him tearing rims down. While a 1-on-0 situation, Pasecniks showed tremendous fluidity and a developing shooting touch. (I think I’ve said that a lot.) A bit older of a prospect, Pasecniks played well for Gran Canaria, growing into a solid role in the second best basketball league in the world. He shot well from the field, converting over 70% of his attempts in the restricted area. Pasecniks runs the floor well in transition and runs pick and roll effectively. He can handle the ball a little, taking the ball to the hole on line drives. He’s a solid “lobs” option. His speed for a really, really tall guy may be useful defending pick and roll, pairing well with his lenth.

While Pasecniks shot well from the perimeter this season, he shot below 30% from the perimeter in each previous year. He also shot poorly from the free throw line, a recurring theme among many of these bigs. While Pasecniks is tall and long, he may not be a true rim protector, often a little late on weak-side rotations. As a rebounder, he leaves lots of room for improvement, simply lacking in form, despite his length. Pasecniks was also foul prone, showing a lack of discipline defending opposing bigs at the rim.

While Anzejs Pasecniks is a bit older, his upside and athleticism may fit the Brooklyn Nets’ developing scheme. Pasecniks is also a late bloomer, really playing his best basketball this past season after looking raw and unaware in his teenage years. He lacks in several key areas for NBA centers, so he may need to shift to power forward to alleviate that. Either way, Pasecniks is a riser on draft boards, and could continue to rise with solid workouts. The Nets could benefit from his athletic tools and length.

Go Big or Go…Home?

Whew. With such a deep crop of big men in this draft, the Nets could go big next Thursday. Even then, there’s still many questions to be answered for the type of big they want. Markinson will surely take different styles, upsides and measurements into account. The Nets have shown interest in some prospects, but as we all know…everything changes on draft night.

For more prospect profiles from my Brooklyn Nets NBA Draft Guide, check out the following…

7 Guards to Watch – Brook-Lin

8 Wings to Keep an Eye On – The Brooklyn Game