Here are another five prospects that could fit the Nets’ schemes. Whether right away or a few years down the road, these players could be Atkinson-style big ball handlers, or versatile bigs. In particular, the Nets’ need for rebounding and frontcourt shooting can be addressed in the draft. The beauty of having two second round draft picks (for now) is Brooklyn’s ability to go for both upside and reliability. They could draft a Landry Shamet, a reliable shooter, while also swinging for the fences and choosing Jarred Vanderbilt because of his upside. “System fit” is a term that could be applied to all of these players.
Omari Spellman, Big, Villanova (CMP: 36.50)
We have ourselves a stretch big. A player that could fit in at either big position, Spellman is a solid shooter with a high release. He has range to three-point line, and could be a really strong pick-and-pop option. He’s able to shoot in the mid-post as well, showing a developing faceup game. Spellman also runs the floor hard and sprints off of screens when not looking for a perimeter jumper. He fights on the glass on both ends, grabbing 2.25 offensive boards per game in his freshman season. On the defensive end, Spellman moves pretty decently (but not great) defending the pick and roll. He has solid timing blocking shots from the weak side. Playing on a team-oriented defensive system at Villanova, Spellman showed proficiency making reads, understanding cuts, and recognizing the need to switch at points.
Despite his strong skillset, some aspects of Spellman’s game may need some work. Spellman isn’t the type to dunk over people, and he may not be able to compete against some of the more powerful big men on the offensive end. Despite his burly frame, he may be more of a finesse player, despite his motor grabbing rebounds on the offensive glass. Defensively, Spellman may struggle against more athletic big men (but who doesn’t) in defending the pick and roll. He does have a plus wingspan, but his lack of vertical leaping ability really puts a cap on his rim protection potential. Additionally, Spellman will need to continue working on his body (me too). He dropped a lot of weight in his redshirt freshman year, and could be more effective and quicker as he becomes leaner.
Outside of the lottery in this year’s draft, stretch bigs are very sparse. Outside of Moritz Wagner, Spellman could be the best bet for teams looking to fill a need. The Nets are looking for a player with Spellman’s offensive skillset and team-player tools. He may need some time in the G-League to really get his body right, and to learn how to play with the physicality and speed of the NBA. He seems like a player that may be a late bloomer playing his first pro basketball at 21 years old. Spellman has the tools to be a successful player. He may need the right development system to encourage him to continue his solid perimeter play while improving his body.
Landry Shamet, Guard, Wichita State (CMP: 43.25)
Shooting is a premium skill for an NBA prospect. A Shocker, Landry Shamet can shoot with the best of them. Projecting as a combo guard, Shamet can thrive on and off ball. He has a lightning quick release that he can fire up smoothly even with long defenders closing out on him. He’s pretty comfortable shooting off the dribble as well, even with the most awkward of set ups – he’s always squared to the basket. Off-ball, he moves with decisiveness, and understands how to get himself open on the perimeter or knifing to the rim. Shamet was also Wichita State’s lead playmaker, showing rock solid steadiness. He was most comfortable as a ballhandler running pick and roll, where he made solid decisions in finding teammates or electing to shimmy to the rim (that was a metaphor). Defensively, Shamet makes up for his skinnier frame by playing with effort and moving quickly. He could be a super solid team defender as a pro.
Part of Shamet’s relatively low ranking based on his skillset is based on the crop of combo guards in this year’s draft. But Shamet may be relegated to a bench role because of his slender frame. Although he has a solid build, he hasn’t been able to put too much weight on in his years at Wichita State. He doesn’t have great speed, although he plays light on his feet. The lack of speed could force him to play more of a shooter role, rather than being a ball-dominant combo guard. He’s a solid ballhandler, but he will likely be best when paired with another ballhandler. He’ll likely struggle defending some of the more explosive point guards. While Shamet may be effective as a team defender, he may not be a true stopper.
Tongue twister time. Shamet’s shooting sheds light on his surefire shine with the shifty Nets. His shooting makes him a great second round target, and his ability to handle the ball full time makes him a super safe pick for Brooklyn’s bench. He also played in a motion offense system that has similar philosophies as the Nets – a low level team that competes hard. But of course, the Nets already have a lot of similar players – and I’ve written a lot about similar players for this draft cycle as well. As a shooter and playmaker, Shamet could fit right in on Brooklyn’s bench for now and for the future as well.
Shake Milton, Wing, SMU (CMP: 46.00)
Named after a go-to dance move of mine, Milton is an under-the-radar prospect that can do it all. A combo guard reminiscent of some Brooklyn Nets (you decide who), Milton is a position-less player that does several positive things on the offensive end. He’s slippery and smooth attacking on ball, never playing too out of control. Milton is able to crossover and pull up or drain a floater in traffic, which could translate well even against NBA competition. He’s shot over 42% from three throughout his career at SMU, projecting him to be at least a reliable shooter at the next level. His overall mechanics are solid as a shooter, with a rhythmic, consistent release. Milton has developed as a passer in his time at SMU. While he may not be a high level, flashy passer, he makes good decisions and isn’t terribly turnover prone considering his usage rate. On defense, Milton is able to slide pretty well laterally. He has ideal length to defend multiple positions, and has shown solid instincts making reads and playing passing lanes off-ball as well.
One area where Milton has struggled is with his consistency. He tends to get a little streaky as a scorer, which could lead to him becoming passive if on a cold streak. While he has improved as a playmaker, Milton may struggle reading defenses as an NBA player with more complex schemes. He may project more of as a player that can attack off the dribble, rather than orchestrate an offense. Milton, because of his smoothness, isn’t terribly explosive. That lack of physical prowess could hinder his potential, because he isn’t very strong either. He may struggle getting past defenders and challenging at the rim. Much like many prospects, Milton isn’t always locked in defending off-ball. That’s an easily coachable fix, and Milton has shown willingness to improve.
Milton was slated as a fringe first round prospect at the beginning of the draft process, but now he’s fallen to the mid-40’s. Reportedly, he struggled at the NBA Draft Combine, which could have lowered his stock. Still, Milton fits into the Nets’ style – he’s versatile on both ends, and could be a decent role player off the bench, even if just a shooter. Even if just a second round pick, Shake Milton’s style fits with the Nets’ ideal for perimeter players.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Big, Kentucky (CMP: 46.50)
Vanderbilt is a wildcard. With a strong frame for his size, Vanderbilt has the handle and vision of a point guard. He runs the floor extremely well, and is comfortable attacking the lane with the ball in his hands or dishing out to teammates on the run as well. He plays with very high energy, and could be a very interesting lob threat if he plays down low. Vanderbilt also may excel cutting off ball as well due to how hard he plays. Vanderbilt’s defense though, is the most complete aspect of his game. His physical tools and energy really project him to potentially to defend five positions, according to every single blog and article I’ve read on him, and the film I’ve watched. He has great instincts defending bigs, and isn’t afraid to step out and guard ballhandlers one-on-one. Vanderbilt rebounds like a madman, not afraid to jump over or box out much bigger defenders. Rebounding is a skill that usually translates well in the NBA.
To say Vanderbilt’s offensive game is raw could be an understatement. His jump shot form is super suspect, and he may need a lot of coaching to get it to look passable. He’s only effective from inside the paint, despite his tremendous ability to attack. Vanderbilt pushes the pace, but he may commit some turnovers because his ballhandling isn’t too advanced. Those traits alone could make him ineffective in spaced out, switch heavy NBA schemes. Similar players with broken jumpers are virtually unplayable in crunch time due to the liability they pose on the offensive end.
Vanderbilt also battled foot injuries throughout high school and in his freshman year at Kentucky as well. The Nets are very familiar with players with foot injuries. The time he missed due to repeated injuries may hinder his basketball IQ. But Vanderbilt provides an intriguing skillset and the motor missing from the Nets. Too often the Nets were left embarrassed because of a lack of attention to detail on the boards and on defense – losing 50/50 balls and fumbling away winnable games due to a lack of rebounding. For a team that struggled with rebounding all year, Vanderbilt could be a high potential flyer for Brooklyn to take in the second round.
Justin Jackson, Big, Maryland (CMP: 52.5)
Another player with a ridiculous wingspan, Jackson is a player that could potentially play small ball center in a fast-paced scheme like Brooklyn’s. With a powerful body, Jackson will likely thrive as a switch defender. He plays consistently on defense, and is able to leverage his body and his length to get into the passing lanes and contest shots at the rim as well without committing fouls. He has the bulk to defend in the post, but can also peruse the perimeter as well. Switching to offense, Jackson is a bit of a mixed bag. As a freshman, he shot over 40% - with really solid form and consistency. That changed in his sophomore year. Jackson also isn’t afraid to handle the ball as well, a plus skill for a potential 4/5. He often initiated the offense after his own rebounds, setting up his teammates with smart passes, or attacking defenders from the perimeter on drives. Jackson will also be the type to clean up possessions with strong offensive rebounding.
Jackson’s stock as a prospect tanked due to a subpar sophomore year. Remember his 40% shooting percentage freshman year? It dipped to 25% as a sophomore – with some mechanical issues unearthed. His overall shooting percentage dipped to below 40% as well, while scoring fewer points. Jackson committed more turnovers as a sophomore, perhaps a symptom of him playing in a larger role. Speaking to his skills, Jackson is truly undersized without being super explosive. He may not be a great rim protector manning the middle due to this lack of explosiveness. To top it off, Jackson’s struggles this season occurred playing against much weaker non-conference opponents. He tore his labrum this season and that prevented him from really addressing any doubts scouts may have had on his game.
As a deep round prospect, Jackson is intriguing. He was a first round talent in the 2017 Draft, but his decision to return as a sophomore did not pay off. As an undersized big, many Draymond Green comparisons were thrown at him. Those comparisons are gone. Jackson is now sitting towards the end of the second round, with many doubts cast upon his role. He has the POTENTIAL to be a solid stretch big man, with positional versatility to switch on command. That should raise eyebrows for Sean Marks and the Nets, who haven’t had a stretch big that’s truly made an impact for the future. But it’s up to Jackson’s interviews and workouts to determine if he still has first round talent.
Up Next: 3 and D Prospects, Thursday 6/14