If you don’t consider the D’Angelo Russell trade a part of draft night, it might seem like an anti-climatic night for Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets.
However, it may turn into another sneaky night filled with potential.
Marks selected 6’11” Jarrett Allen of Texas at No. 22. Allen’s barely 19 years old. He’ll be one of the youngest to wear a Nets uniform ... ever. He has a 7’5” wingspan and might be that “lobs and blocks” guy in the future. He’s lanky and his offensive game needs work, but he looks like he might be a solid defensive player. He’s all in and on Friday he met the New York media.
“If we all grow and develop together, we’re all striving for the same goal,” said Allen, an articulate student of the game. “So I believe that creates a stronger bond for a team, and that’s just going to help us out in the future.”
Kenny Atkinson thinks he’ll fit in just fine.
“It’s rare when you get your guy, and that’s what makes me so excited, we got our guy,” Atkinson explained at Friday’s press conference. “Credit to Sean and his group, obviously they’re doing the work all year long. When I was watching games, I mean, you just know, it’s like seeing a beautiful girl. He’s a system fit, I know you’ve heard that a lot from us – he does everything we want in a big player; runs the court, defends the rim, has great timing, great feel for the game … I was really impressed with his passing. I’m up here pinching myself, we got a heck of a player, a heck of a young man.”
Although he’s raw he’ll have a chance to prove himself from the start. The starting center job is not Timofey Mozgov’s.
“It’s open competition here. I know one thing; he’s going to feel Timmy when he comes in our gym. I don’t look at the age when it comes to the starting line-up,” Atkinson said. “I don’t think it’s in Sean’s mentality, it’s not in my mentality. You have to earn it.”
Draft Express had the one-and-done Allen in the lottery up until May. He was projected to go at 16 on Thursday night, but he fell to the Nets at 22. Earlier in the spring, he was as high as No. 11 in the 2017 Draft and as high as 8 in the 2018 Draft if he elected to withdraw.
Although the Nets needed a center, Marks went with the best player available. He interviewed him once at the Draft Combine and once the day before the draft. That was after after working out tons of different prospects at HSS. His slip in the draft is mostly attributed to his lack of strength. He admitted so at the Combine and then after the draft.
“He was a lot higher on our board, he was a guy that we targeted,” Marks said Friday without revealing specifics. “We certainly looked to move up in the draft to get him, and actually we didn’t have to move up.”
“The scouting department did a tremendous job in narrowing our focus down. The fact that you get a key player that you target, I think it’s pretty rare. Throughout the course of last year, really getting to know the people around Jarrett; how he socializes with them, the make-up of the young man, talking to coaches. It starts to give you this 360 view of what he’s all about. We were impressed the whole way along.”
This leads us into an important point, one that Draft Express pointed out from the beginning. DX stated that “he’ll need to land somewhere with a great development staff and plenty of patience.”
Welcome to Brooklyn. It might in fact be, Welcome to Long Island… for now. He may spend some time in the G-League. He could work out with the Nets and get time with Atkinson and the staff that’s been brought in to develop young players. But in order for him to get real time he may have to log minutes in the D-League. At his age, in his situation where he needs to bulks… that’s not a big problem.
“We have a heck of a performance team here that’s going to help him get stronger. We think he can go down to the post too, he’s very skilled,” Atkinson said.
A lot of people were focused on bigs like Harry Giles and OG Anunoby. Both had knee injuries that could have really slowed down their development process to potentially years.
It isn’t about right now. The rebuild is seen as a long-term thing, maybe a “process,” small “P.” You can try to rebuild and win, sure. That was what Mikhail Prokhorov hoped when he canned Billy King and Lionel Hollins. But it rarely works and when Marks and Atkinson took over, the idea was abandoned.
So now, Nets have a core of young guys that are 24 years old or younger. If they re-sign Spencer Dinwiddie and Archie Goodwin, virtually a sure thing at this point, that’ll bring them to seven players less than 24-years-old – six 23 or younger: in order: Jarrett Allen, Isaiah Whitehead, D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, Archie Goodwin and Spencer Dinwiddie, the old man of the group at 23.
The pick speaks volume for the direction and vision the organization has in mind. In almost all scenarios you need a short-term and long-term plan. This isn’t a “sexy” pick, a short term goal, but falls under the long-term category ... with upside.
Development and camaraderie, two things the Nets have emphasized during the rebuild. They have a young core and they want them to grow... together. That includes Atkinson and the staff, too.
Allen believes he can see the goal.
“I see just greatness. Having a team and organization that focuses on development, it’s just good. Personally I need somebody to help me develop and having them around me is going to help me a lot.”