After Michael Scotto tweeted out the names of the draft prospects the Nets worked out Thursday, Dakota Schmidt of our sister SB Nation blog, Ridiculous Upside, responded with an intriguing tweet all his own...
The Nets are one of the teams that are holding workouts for the sole purpose of potentially finding players they can place in the G-League https://t.co/GEoQoZtfFI— Ridiculous Upside (@RidicUpside) June 8, 2017
The tweet wasn’t intriguing because he referenced “G-League” That’s the D-League’s new name, as in Gatorade League, after the league’s new sponsor.
No, Schmidt was explaining why the Nets were working out Peter Jok, Bryce Alford, Rashawn Thomas and Jake Wiley, the names mentioned by Scotto. None are close to being included in the Draft Express mock draft, even in the second round. All have some intrigue to them (and all can score), but no one is expecting them to get drafted, except maybe them and their agents.
So the workouts sound anti-climactic for the players and the Nets. Actually, it’s a smart move for both. The Nets have a commitment to the development league, which the front office will emphasize to the players and point to how many players the Nets have called up.
They can ask Sean Kilpatrick, Spencer Dinwiddie, Quincy Acy, Archie Goodwin, even Joe Harris. All were plucked from G-League teams. Prince Ibeh and Cliff Alexander, two members of the Long Island Nets, were also given quickie 10-day contracts the last weekend of the season to fill a promise made their agents. Unlike the previous regime, Sean Marks and ownership have put a premium of using the G-League as a testing ground.
And this year, with the advent of two-way contracts, as complicated as they are, the Nets like the G-League even more. As Alton Byrd, the vice president of business relations for the Long Island Nets told us this month...
“Those two-way players are not going to be your non-descript, non-noticeable players. There’s going to be NBA players. Who that’s going to be down to Sean (Marks) and Trajan (Langdon) and how they select their players,” Byrd told us. “I gotta believe that if we have two NBA-caliber players who are going to be with us for the majority of the year, that will help us.”
It should also help the Nets of Brooklyn too. Some of these players the Nets will work out could fit the role of two-way players. Of the 17 players we believe have worked out or will work out soon, 11 of them are projected to go undrafted.
Even if the Nets draft a player (or two, if they buy one) in the second round and decide not to designate them as a two-way player, they could still wind up with Long Island. Under league rules, a second round pick can sign directly with a G-League team and the NBA club retains their rights for two years. (That goes for previous second rounders like Juan Pablo Vaulet, if that’s the way the Nets want to go with the only stash.)
They can also invite several of them to summer league, then training camp. The last four players cut by an NBA team automatically get their G-League rights transferred to that NBA team’s affiliate. The big club loses its NBA rights but still gets to keep an eye on a player.
Scouting reports on those players could also factor in the Nets plans for the G-League draft the last week of October, when they will have a top pick. That draft goes six rounds too.
We don’t know what’s going on with some of the returning players from last year’s squad, other than Prince Ibeh, who’s working out with the Nets at HSS Training Center. That leaves Cliff Alexander, Trahson Burrell and R.J. Hunter. Maybe this year, they get another chance.
So, there's plenty of reasons to take long looks at a lot of roles to fill.