Unless you’re in the playoffs, you and your team are all about the Draft. Tanking season is over, and the full 60 pick order has been established ... at least until the Draft Lottery in May. (That’s not something we need to worry about.)
Sean Marks an his press conference with Kenny Atkinson Monday talked about how the Nets are preparing for the draft ... and free agency a few days later. Although workouts haven’t started yet, planning has...
“We’re hopefully preparing for every different scenario that may never happen or may happen,” Marks told the media. “So we don’t want any surprises. That’s one of our littler mottos here, is we want to be prepared for everything that possibly could happen.”
What’s he mean by surprises? As he’s said recently, if on June 21, the Nets find that there are five players they like sitting at No. 29, the staff better know who’s the best fit of the five. Or if suddenly, another team presents them with a trade proposal a few minutes before they pick, what should they do? It’s not about going with the flow.
“I can’t tell you now - like I’ve always said - are we going to use them, when we’re going to use them,” Marks noted, seemingly opening the possibility of a trade. “But it gives us another vehicle in which to try and improve the roster and the team in the rebuild.”
And the Nets aren’t done scouting. Just because Villanova was crowned NCAA championship doesn’t mean there aren’t other prospects overseas playing in national and international tournaments.
Trajan Langdon, Marks’ No. 2, is in fact in Europe this week. He’s in Athens Thursday presumably looking at Slovenian wunderkind and possible overall No. 1 pick Luka Doncic of Real Madrid. On Wednesday, he was in Ljubljana, Slovenia, looking at someone at the other end of the spectrum, Yussuf Sonan, a 6’4” 18-year-old Ukrainian who ESPN has at No. 70 on their big board. The day before that, he was in Moscow. Sorry, we don’t know what he was doing there. He did watch CSKA play Khimki, but there weren’t any draft prospects on display.
But why Doncic ... and why Sonan?
The Nets have zero chance of landing the 6’8” Doncic but Langdon scouts everyone in the top 35 or so. And if they can, the Nets would like to interview everyone as well... just in case a top pick becomes available down the line, they want as complete an entry in their scouting database. After all, that happened twice this season when the Nets traded for the Nos. 2 and 3 picks in the 2015 Draft. Marks had scouted and interviewed D’Angelo Russell, when assistant GM of the Spurs back then when San Antonio had the 26th and 55th picks.
As for Sonan, it’s possible the Nets could see players like him, marginal prospects now but with potential, as long-term development projects, stashes. Maybe he isn’t worth the 45th pick, but the Nets do have $5.1 million and could buy a late second rounder. They didn’t have to buy a pick last June, but took Aleksandr Vezenkov, a Bulgaria small forward, at No. 57 and stashed him.
29. Tyus Battle, 6’7” SG, Syracuse, Sophomore
40. Jerome Robinson, 6’5” SG, Boston College, Junior
45. Travon Duval, 6’3” PG, Duke, Freshman
29. Chandler Hutchison, 6’7” SG, Boise State, Senior
40. Hamidou Diallo, 6’5” SG, Kentucky, Freshman
45. Travon Duval, 6’3” PG, Duke, Freshman
29. Jalen Brunson, 6’3” PG, Villanova, Junior
40. Devonte Graham, 6’2” PG, Kansas, Senior
45. Hamidou Diallo, 6’5” SG, Kentucky, Freshman
29. Rawle Alkins, 6’5” SG, Arizona, Sophomore
40. Chimezie Metu, 6’11” PF, USC, Junior
45. Goga Bitadze, 6’11” C, Mega Leks, 18 years old
29. Rodions Kurucs, 6’9” PF, F.C. Barcelona, 20 years old
40. Lindell Wigginton, 6’2” PG/SG, Iowa State, Freshman
45. Maximo Fjellerup, 6’5’ SG, Bahia Blanca, 21 years old
29. Moritz Wagner, 6’11” C, Michigan, Junior
29. Shake Milton, 6’6” PG/SG, SMU, Junior
29. Grayson Allen, 6’5” SG, Duke, Senior
29. Aaron Holiday, 6’1’ PG, UCLA, Junior
As you can see, the mocks are mostly about the usual suspects, players who the Nets have reportedly liked in the past: Hamidou Diallo, Moe Wagner, Rodions Kurucs, Chandler Hutchison and a new name, Trevon Duval of Duke.
As the Nets Tom Dowd tweeted Wednesday...
Only player mentioned multiple times is Diallo, I assume because of Nets clear interest in him this time last year. But one mock has him at 29, others have him with those picks in the 40s— Tom Dowd (@TomDowd22) April 18, 2018
And so, fans will continue to speculate and Langdon will continue to scout overseas and back at HSS, Marks will continue to plan.
“I think that’s fun going through that daily debating and debriefing on what we just did. How could we have improved? At the trade deadline did we do a good enough job? Could we have done a better job here at the draft, so forth? What did we learn from last year’s draft and so forth? A lot of our days is preparing, whether it’s evaluating talent, watching these guys conduct draft workouts, and then just preparing for both the draft and free agency coming up.”