Nets fans, remember this while flying through mock draft heaven over the next few days: Last year at this time, no one knew Brooklyn would draft Caris LeVert.
No one outside of the Nets themselves.
After the Nets traded Thaddeus Young in the morning, both DraftExpress and nbadraft.net had the Nets selecting current San Antonio Spur Dejonte Murray at 20th overall. As for LeVert, Draft Express had him at 50 (!!) and nbadraft had him at 32. He had just come off foot reconstruction surgery, his third procedure in three years.
Despite possessing lottery level talent, as acknowledged by executives and scouts since, the conventional wisdom was mid to late second round, and there was no public thought about LeVert-to-Brooklyn beforehand.
No real knowledge of an interview — he couldn’t work out — nothing regarding ‘interest levels’, not a peep from his agent.
But general manager Sean Marks knew, he always knew. In reality, that’s all that mattered.
“After his draft interview, we said 'that’s a Brooklyn Net, right there’. He epitomized everything we wanted,” said Marks in April’s season ending press conference, describing his talk with LeVert at the Draft Combine in May.
An interview kept on the down low.
The Nets could’ve been scared off like other teams, but electing to stick to their big board, which, we’re told, had LeVert pegged at number 11.
Just days prior to the Draft, LeVert had penned a letter to NBA GM’s, a plea for them to take a chance on the injury-riddled youngster. Here’s the opening excerpt:
“Dear NBA GM’s:
“My name is Caris LeVert. I’m a six-foot-seven point-slash-shooting guard from Pickerington, Ohio, via the University of Michigan, and there are some things that you should know about me.
“You probably heard that I hurt my foot a few months ago. It’s all anyone talks about when my name comes up at this point. There was a surgery, and, for a while, a walking boot. I was the guy on crutches at the combine.
“And since I had some foot issues earlier in my college career, doubters have come out in droves. Now lots of people are asking whether I can come back and be the player I was before, whether I’m tough enough to pick myself up and be resilient in the face of adversity.
“It’s a strange thing for me to hear, honestly, because I know all about adversity and resiliency. I learned about those things at a young age. Had to. Didn’t have a choice.”
He was speaking about his father’s sudden death from a heart attack on an Easter Sunday morning six years earlier.
Fans love LeVert now, but that wasn’t the case in the immediate aftermath of what was a shocking selection (to us.)
Some of you were optimists, many of you were not. Here’s some, um, highlights:
We reached so hardddd
Are you there vodka, it's me Billy.
Of ruining one of the few bright spots on this team and drafting an injury prone guard (another) who can’t shoot off the dribble. Fantastic.
Selling Dr, J, the loss of Petrovic, not drafting Kobe, losing two finals in a row, trading away K-Mart, Kidd then VC for nothing, 12-70, Kiki, Outlaw and Petro. We have suffured enough in the past 30 plus years and now it's finally our time. BROOKLYN!!!
the Nets gave up their best asset for an injury prone player…that’s just plain stupid.
Even if this guy is healthy, is he any better than than Thad?
I mean, you have to make multiple leaps of faith: 1) He will be as healthy as Thad AND 2) he is as good if not better than Thad even when healthy.
I would have to honestly say it’s unlikely.
Billy King, the Pro Bono GM: helping the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers and Utah Jazz all rebuild their rosters, free of charge.
Lifelong New Jersey Nets fan.
totally agree with you
Draft all the injured players!
Hate this pick
Especially when we traded Thad for him…. Hell i would’ve traded Jack to the Hornets at 22 and gotten him then. Marks lost me with this
Marks couldn’t comment that night on the selection of LeVert. The deal didn’t get done officially for another week. Kenny Atkinson was the first to describe the Nets thinking when the moratorium was lifted.
"We got all the information and we were all like, ‘Yes, let’s do this judging the risk or lack thereof we felt like it was a good decision,’” he said.
"They knew more about my body than I knew myself," said LeVert of the Nets medical intelligence-gathering. In fact, Marks said his confidence in LeVert’s full recovery was enhanced by conversations (plural) he had with LeVert’s surgeon, Dr. Martin O’Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery, who also is the Nets foot/ankle specialist.
It took LeVert a little more time to get back on the court but when he did in December, he quickly became a fan favorite. Wouldn’t be a surprise if he made the all-Rookie Team.
So, just remember this on Thursday night. The Nets may draft someone they haven’t been linked to, especially since their workouts aren’t made public. We’ve uncovered many, but not all.
Then again, sometimes people get it right, like our own Dexter Henry, who was on the Isaiah Whitehead selection one month in advance.
So when it comes to Draft night, proceed with caution.