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Nets Draft 2017 – Draft Guide – 10 Bigs Worth the Wait

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NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

So far, I’ve profiled 40 different NBA Draft prospects the Brooklyn Nets could be interested in heading into Thursday’s draft. Now we’re in the home stretch. As mentioned previously, this draft is deep in bigs. That’s evident in the early second round of mock drafts, where bigs again rule. Now it may be the time to wonder – who will drop in the draft?

Yes, there are 30 picks between the Nets’ final two selections at 27 and 57. Of course, that can change. Look at how quickly things have changed at the top of the draft. And every draft of the Prokhorov Era has included a transaction or two or three. Sean Marks and his staff will surely be active trying to trade into the early second or into the future, depending on who they like.

Here, I profile my final 10 draft prospects. These are ten bigs that have dropped or are a little under the radar. These players are “worth the wait” not just because some may need time before they see consistent NBA minutes, but it may be a while before these players hear their name called, likely announced by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum rather than Adam Silver.

These ten prospects are grouped by skillset.

The Long and the Raw

Thomas Bryant

Bryant is long with developing skill. He measured one of the longest wingspans at the NBA Draft Combine. At Indiana, Bryant showed decent skill, finishing through contact and passing out of the post decently. He also shot 60 three-pointers in his sophomore year, solid development for a player so big. He could be a solid pick-and-pop option going forward. But at times, Bryant played sloppy on the offensive end. He turned the ball over quite frequently, committing offensive fouls or not playing at full intensity. His offense became a bit predictable, lacking in advanced moves in the post and on the perimeter.

Bryant was a solid shot-blocker, particularly on the weak-side where he could slide and use his length to meet players at the rim. He possesses decent quickness, closing out well on perimeter-oriented bigs. But again, Bryant lacked a bit of substance to his defense. He had a tendency to guard the pick-and-roll modestly, not fully utilizing his length or mobility, often stuck in between. While he did notch lots of blocks, Bryant wasn’t a great or imposing post presence. At the collegiate level, Bryant was a solid rebounder mostly due to his size. He’ll need to learn how to box out properly and compete to be fully effective in the NBA.

The Indiana center has worked out with the Nets. Despite his excellent measurements and offensive skill, he projects as a second round pick. There are big concerns on his feel for the game and NBA efficacy. Bryant dominated sometimes through sheer size – that may not fly in the NBA. Regardless, the Rochester, NY native could be an interesting pick for the Nets to chisel into a solid player.

Alpha Kaba

If Alpha Kaba were a collegiate prospect, he’d probably be in consideration as an early second round pick. Kaba played for Mega Leks (the team with the pink and neon yellow jerseys), and played solidly. He possesses a 7’5” wingspan, which bodes well for his NBA fit. He possesses a high motor, crashing the offensive glass like a madman. He finishes through contact and sets solid screens. He’s trying to develop an outside shot – with mixed results. Kaba does tend to rush his shots at the rim a little too, so that could explain his relatively low field goal percentage. Outside of pick and roll or offensive rebound finishes, his offensive game is still limited.

But Kaba will likely draw attention as a defender. He understands how to use his length on the ground, knocking away plenty of passes and often picking up steals. Kaba isn’t too great at blocking shots because he isn’t a great leaper (30-inch vertical.) In the pick-and-roll, Kaba occasionally gets into foul trouble because he reaches in a bit too aggressively. If he can be more disciplined on the perimeter, Kaba could be a solid pick-and-roll defender.

Kaba isn’t ranked on many mock drafts. But the Nets have brought the French-big for a workout, so there could be a chance he hears his name called late second round. Kaba could make his name as a rebounding specialist if he makes an NBA move. At 21 years old, he could marinate playing for a higher level European squad, further developing his raw offensive game. Kaba’s length and rebounding acumen could make him an interesting late second-round target for the Brooklyn Nets.

Stretching and Scoring

Cameron Oliver

Oliver, favorite of NetsDaily commenter SteelNets, owns one of the most varied skillsets in the draft. On the offensive end, Oliver was an explosive finisher, a bull at 6’8”, throwing down powerful dunks with impressive athleticism. The Nevada sophomore can stroke the three, shooting nearly 40% from the field. His skillset and mobility projects him as a powerful combo forward. While Oliver was productive offensively, his decision-making was frustrating at times. He turned the ball over relatively often, sometimes focused a bit too much on his next move. His shot selection was also questionable, often a bit of a ball stopper within the offensive flow.

Despite Oliver’s smaller stature, he used his verticality and explosion to block 649 shots in two years. He possesses great timing and fearlessness in challenging at the rim. Oliver’s mobility makes him a solid candidate as a switch defender, although he wasn’t too effective guarding the pick and roll at Nevada in 2016-2017. But like the offensive end, the numbers don’t show Oliver’s big defensive struggle – effort and IQ. He showed a poor understanding of reading offenses, sometimes a few steps too late on rotations and a little lax at times.

Oliver is an interesting mid-second round prospect. He could be what the Nets wanted Anthony Bennett to be – an undersized, but explosive combo forward with perimeter skill. But Oliver’s deficiency in feel and awareness could prevent him from cracking a rotation. Oliver has worked out with the Nets, and would be an ideal Atkinson scheme pick if he grows in basketball IQ.

Alec Peters

The Valparaiso senior was productive. Peters was a consistent shotmaker everywhere around the floor, and through every situation. He possesses great footwork as a shooter, consistent off of screens, on pick and pop or as a spot-up shooter. While it may be out of style, Peters also gets buckets on the inside, with a slippery low post game, again using nice footwork to finesse to the basket. At this point, Peters projects as a complementary player, because he lacks the athleticism and creativity to score off the dribble.

Peters may never be more than an average defender. He’s neither strong nor quick, which may limit him to only playing power forward. But Peters was an effective rebounder, smartly boxing out on misses. He also played smart defensively, which may make up for his athletic limitations. Despite this, Peters still may be ineffective against some of the NBA’s perimeter oriented or bruising bigs.

Alec Peters is a proven college commodity. He is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, so that may hurt his draft stock quite a bit. His lack of athleticism isn’t exactly “Nets-y” either. But in the mid-late second round, the Nets could go for a proven commodity. Peters may project as a role player, but that may be a victory in the second round of the draft.

Jonah Bolden

The Australian forward is rising. Bolden is a multi-skilled player for his size. He played for a lower level team in the Adriatic League, but his upside was evident. Bolden shoots from the perimeter with ease, using his long reach to shoot over smaller defenders. He uses his shooting to drive to the rim with decent handle on occasion. He’s also a great rim runner, a frequent lob target for teammates in transition or in halfcourt. Bolden does play a bit erratically at times, often avoiding contact at the rim and taking questionable shots. Bolden also is a disappointing free throw shooter for a player that excelled on the perimeter. He’ll need to tighten up his finishing around the rim as well.

Bolden’s length and explosiveness projects well in a switching defense in the NBA. He wasn’t a particularly imposing shot blocker, but he racked up a solid amount of steals and moved well in the paint to stave off shots on the weak side. Overall, Bolden was up-and-down as a defender, often an active defensive presence, but other times losing track of the action. He’ll also have to adjust to much more physical, faster offensive sets in the NBA. He doesn’t really have the size to contain opposing bigs on the inside just yet, and his frame may not get any wider.

So far, Bolden is a prospect that’s broken out late in the draft process. After an ineffective two years at UCLA, Bolden really broke out abroad. Comparisons range from Shawne Williams to Markieff Morris to “Tranquilized Draymond,” per The Ringer. He did have a pro day this past weekend, with 22 NBA teams present. Bolden fits as a “modern” NBA forward with perimeter skills and athletic tools. He could be a high upside pick the Nets could take a chance on as he continues to rise up draft boards.

Moose Hunting

Caleb Swanigan

Back in the Rod Thorn-era, the Nets tried to find a “moose,” a hard working, rebounding big unafraid to mix things up. Years later, Caleb Swanigan could be that guy. Swanigan was a beast in his sophomore year at Purdue, one of the most productive bigs in college. He rebounded well on offense, and was able to score on the interior despite a lack of explosiveness. Swanigan shot well from the perimeter, and set solid screens for his guards. He was also a smart passer out of the post, an underrated skill for a big. Swanigan may not be a terrific ballhandler or above the rim finisher, but he checks all the other boxes.

As wonderful a player Swanigan is offensively, his defense could be a big problem at the pro level. His only standout physical measurement as a defender is his plus wingspan. Aside from that, he may be too slow and not explosive enough to be effective. He could thrive defending post players, but the purely post player is rare these days. Swanigan is an aggressive rebounder, and that one skill alone could make him a useful player down the line.

Aside from that, Swanigan has overcome adversity, continuing to improve his conditioning after a morbidly obese childhood. His work ethic screams, “culture.” His production on the collegiate level was eye-popping, but his defensive upside is discouraging. For a second-round flier, Swanigan could be a worthy, NBA-ready pick.

Ivan Rabb

Rabb is an old-school, hard-hat big. On the offensive end, Rabb thrives hustling in the paint, scoring off of putbacks and dives off of pick and roll. Rabb also was a decent option in the post, finishing through contact and drawing fouls at a decent rate. He’s a bit limited offensively, lacking balance in the post when rising for a shot. His perimeter shot is lagging and is need of an overhaul to be an effective NBA pro.

Defensively, Rabb could be a fine option at either power forward or center. He possesses nice strength in the post, despite his developing frame. He doesn’t block too many shots, but his long arms aid in contesting shooters and other bigs at the rim. However, his effort defensively can be inconsistent, which needs to be addressed going forward. Rabb could likely be played at small-center due to his offensive limitations, but his production on the defensive end needs more consistency.

Rabb was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school. He played in a clogged offensive system at Cal and his numbers didn’t improve. But his upside as an energetic, rock solid big could be enticing. The Nets need rebounding if they decide to play small, and Rabb could fill that need.

Energy and Effort

Johnathan Motley

The Baylor junior is intriguing, to say the least. Motley was energy personified on the offensive end, scoring mostly on offensive rebounds, cuts and cleanup jobs. He possesses nice bounce on the offensive glass, using his reach and quick bounce. Motley wasn’t terribly efficient in 2016-2017, but he changed that by getting to the line pretty frequently. Aside from that, Motley’s offensive game is unrefined, lacking in perimeter skill and post footwork. When engaged, Motley is an animal – but that motor is inconsistent. He’s also prone to some questionable shots, especially with his limited game.

Motley could make his mettle as a defender. He’s agile and long, which fits perfectly for teams (like the Nets) that value aggressive defense. To pair with his agility, Motley is also pretty strong, making him a two-way threat on the defensive side of the ball. He plays aggressively, sometimes picking up fouls because of that. Baylor also played zone often, so that could incur an adjustment period for Motley, who wasn’t the most intuitive defender to begin with. His defensive rebounding could use a bit more technique, rather than reach.

Motley is recovering from a torn MCL, and will not be ready to play until after training camp. But the Nets have taken injury risks before. Motley is an interesting energy big prospect with injury concerns, but a definite role in the NBA. He’d add length and athleticism to the Brooklyn Nets’ roster down the line.

Mathias Lessort

Lessort is a rebounding brick wall. He put up impressive rebounding numbers on a per-minute basis, and was one of the most productive International prospects in this draft. He possesses excellent athleticism, often finishing above the rim and simply powering through defenders. Lessort also attacks the basket aggressively, running hard in transition and diving after setting screens. But Lessort’s offensive prowess ends there. He’s not a great shooter, ballhandler or post threat. He’s mostly relegated to finishes at the rim. Although explosive, Lessort’s offensive game will need to diversify to be successful as an undersized power forward.

Despite Lessort’s smaller stature, he could be a decent rim protector due to his explosiveness and effort. He’s a bit average height-wise, but he has enough mobility, strength and athleticism to potentially play center in reserve lineups. He possesses active hands and decent timing blocking shots, while also not completely lost switching onto guards. However, Lessort seems to rely on his physical gifts a little too much, often overplaying or resorting to fouling on the inside. He needs more reps against stronger competition to figure out defensive rotations.

Lessort’s ceiling is probably a high-end rebounding big with limited offensive skill. But that role is still needed in the NBA, despite the league’s trend toward the perimeter. Lessort still has a few years left on his contract for Nanterre, so he’s a stash candidate for the Brooklyn Nets. While he may not be a 2017 rookie, Lessort will come into the NBA ready to defend and rebound, while also matching up athletically with the NBA’s most athletic bigs.

Jordan Bell

It’s the final prospect! Bell is an athletic, hustle big that seemingly fits in today’s NBA. Like these other two “energy and effort” players, Bell scores most of his points based off motor and hustle. He crashes the offensive glass and runs the floor extremely well, as evidenced by his combine agility measurements. On the interior, Bell was really effective, shooting 67.6% in the restricted area, and efficiently overall. The Oregon junior didn’t show much on the offensive end aside from effort, and he didn’t really develop an advanced interior or perimeter game over the past three years. Additionally, Bell was a little turnover prone despite his low usage rate. He doesn’t have great hands catching passes, and also makes lazy passes sometimes.

But Bell projects as a defensive animal. He has superior timing as a shot blocker, despite his average frame. Bell is aided with tremendous leaping ability along with his guard-like mobility. He was also active in passing lanes, picking up a solid amount of steals. Bell has risen up draft boards because of these defensive assets and his potential to guard the perimeter. However, Bell’s smaller frame may hurt him defending post bigs and even the bigger small forwards in the NBA. Also, Bell may rely too much on his athleticism as a rebounder. In the Final Four, Bell failed to box out on two key rebounds against North Carolina, dooming Oregon’s National Championship hopes. Bell has possibly learned his lesson after those big slip-ups.

Jordan Bell doesn’t project as a super offensive player, but his defensive potential has him rising up draft boards. Bell has risen after a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament and tremendous Draft Combine results. Bell has worked out with the Nets already, and fills the team’s need for rebounding, mobility and defense. He should be available at both 22 and 27 for the Nets. He’ll likely be NBA ready as a high motor prospect, with lots of room to improve.

Adventure Awaits

While this is the second round of big men I’ve covered, several of these prospects have first-round potential. The Nets could take a chance on any of these prospects, filling their needs for length, rebounding and athleticism. Five of these prospects have visited Brooklyn for workouts, while the others may be on the Nets’ radar as well. Either way, the 2017 draft is full of big men – and the Nets could take a chance on at least one.

That covers it! I’ve covered 50 NBA prospects that could potentially make Brooklyn their home in 2017-2018 and beyond. For my cross-site Brooklyn Nets 2017 NBA Draft Preview, check out the following!

Nets Draft Assets, History and Trends – NetsDaily

7 Guards to Watch – Brook-Lin

8 High Upside Wings – The Brooklyn Game

10 Bigs to Bet On – NetsDaily

8 Deep Draft Guards – Brook-Lin

7 International and Unheralded Wings – The Brooklyn Game

Thanks for reading!