As Greg Logan writes on the morning of Draft Day, D’Angelo Russell is the Nets’ top pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. The 6’5” combo guard out of Ohio State is only 21. Of the 60 prospects or so worked out by the Nets since May, at least 40 of them are younger that Russell. And the Nets know what Russell can do.
The Draft Thursday night at Barclays Center may not be anti-climactic but barring some other shock, acquiring a player who can man the 1 or the 2, score, pass, defend is a huge accomplishment for Sean Marks and company.
So what to expect? Just as Marks kept the Laker trade talks quiet until the detonation of a Woj bomb Tuesday afternoon, the Nets draft plans, whether they just want picks at No. 22 and 57 or make other deals, are closely held. It’s part of the new culture.
The most likely scenario though is that the Nets will walk away with a big man, maybe an international big. Why? Because after they traded Brook Lopez to acquire Russell, they have only two players taller than 6’10” on the roster: Timofey Mozgov and Justin Hamilton.
Marks has said the Nets biggest need is at the 3, but that’s likely something to be addressed in free agency which starts nine days after the Draft shuts down. The Nets have been linked to a big for the Wizards’ Otto Porter, a restricted free agent, for months.
As Logan writes Thursday, “When the lottery portion of the first round ends after the 14th pick, it’s expected there will be a run on big men, and the Nets could trade up if there is a particular player they want.”
A big in Kenny Atkinson’s system should be capable of stepping out and hitting the long two or three. Again, Logan...
The top three-point shooting big men include 6-11 Creighton center Justin Patton, who hit 53.3 percent on limited attempts (8 of 15) and blocked 1.4 shots per game; 6-10 UCLA forward T.J. Leaf, who shot 46.6 percent; 6-10 Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon, a 40.0 percent three-point shooter; 6-10 Caleb Swanigan of Purdue (37.6), and 6-11 D.J. Wilson of Michigan (36.3).
Then, there’s the two international men of mystery...
The Nets also are believed to have thoroughly scouted two European centers, Anzejs Pasecniks, a 7-1 Latvian who played for Gran Canaria of the Spanish League, and 7-foot Isaiah Hartenstein, a German who played in Lithuania. Pasecniks hit 37.9 percent on limited three-point attempts (11-for-29), and Hartenstein hit 29.6 percent (8 of 27) but has shown potential to improve.
Brian Lewis of the Post thinks the Nets go big as well.
After Marks had acknowledged the Nets’ biggest concern was on the wing, and they had focusing heavily on 3-and-D guys, now they almost certainly will have to take a big man Thursday.
Mozgov and Justin Hamilton are the only centers on the roster, and both struggled last season. Mozgov averaged 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.4 minutes for the Lakers, Hamilton 6.9 points and 4.1 boards in 18.4 minutes with the Nets.
The most intriguing name is that of Harry Giles, the oft-injured Duke center who if he hadn’t needed a third ACL surgery earlier this season, would be a lottery pick. But the latest mock draft from Draft Express was ominous. In the three day period in-between Jonathan Givony’s latest mocks, the 19-year-old dropped from No. 17 to No. 26. Nothing screams medical red flag like a nine-spot drop the day before the Draft.
If the Nets go for a 3, there a number of intriguing names around that No. 22 spot, players like Terrance Ferguson who played in Australia; Semi Ojeleye out of SMU and Dillon Brooks of Oregon.
As for the second round, the Nets have $3.4 million to spend or about enough to package their No. 57 pick and move into the 40’s like they did last year with Isaiah Whitehead.
Lewis writes fans should expect them to spend it.
They likely will spend $3.4 million to buy a second-round pick, and still could package picks and players to move up. Either way, they probably need to leave Barclays with a big man or two.
So who knows? We don’t! And Marks has said, “Everything changes on Draft Night!”
- NBA Draft: Nets looking to pick big man with three-point range - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets likely to target one of these big men with No. 22 pick - Brian Lewis - New York Post