We’re almost there. The NBA Draft is creeping up on us, and seemingly, for Nets fans, the attention has shifted not from who the Nets will pick – but where they’ll pick. Will it be 4, 11, 14, or 29? Who knows. (I guess some people do, but the only source I have is the NetsDaily comments section.)
Here are five more 3&D (or just “3” or “D” prospects) the Nets can take a look at. Some of these players will likely be available in the second round, and could be candidates for the Nets to take with NBA ready skillsets. In a draft where solid wings and guards are the norm, the Nets could find first round value in any of these players. Just having intense defenders in practice could do wonders for the young Nets, making each practice competitive. That may fit right in with the Nets’ ideal of trying to build a winning culture. Oh, and some of these guys can shoot too.
Jacob Evans, Wing, Cincinnati (CMP: 28.75)
Jacob Evans knows his role. The Cincinnati junior excelled in a spot up shooting role, while also showing some skills as a playmaker. Evans’ jumper is bouncy and clean, looking best when shooting at a standstill. He also shows comfort on one or two-dribble pullups from three, although from the college three point line. He plays smart off-ball, cutting and slashing smartly if he sees an open look at the rim. Evans can properly make a post-entry pass, and is comfortable throwing passes to cutters. He’ll make the right passes, but won’t be flashy about it. Evans knows his role on the defensive end as well. His defensive rating of 87.5 was by far the best of any player I’ve covered in this draft series. He pays great attention to both ball and man, always on his toes. He slides his feet well and knows when to help or when to show and recover. He’ll play the passing lanes and is competitive enough to guard four positions. At this point, he seems to be a more versatile defender than offensive player.
Evans’ biggest issue is his clearly defined role. He projects almost strictly as a catch and shoot player as a scorer, and may not have as a high of a ceiling as other 3&D prospects. He hasn’t proven himself as a plus ballhandler, making passes out of triple threat on the perimeter rather than off the bounce. Additionally, Evans is the type of player that may not be as dynamic as a shooter as well. He isn’t too quick and not terribly physical, so he may be better as a standstill shooter rather than a greyhound off of screens. His lack of great quickness may also hurt him defensively, where he could be outmatched by heavy motion offenses with lots of screens.
If the Nets are looking for a solid pick at 29, Evans could be a solid role player right away. He may not project as a star, but he at least could fill a role defensively on the perimeter. Evans plays smart and within himself, and could be a calming presence if the Nets’ offense gets too chaotic (it has a tendency to trend that way at times.) Evans has the potential and vision to be a solid defender under the tutelage of Brooklyn’s development staff as well.
Gary Trent, Jr., Wing, Duke (CMP: 36.00)
I love seeing “legacy” players succeed in the NBA. Definitely not the Shaq of the MAC, Trent Jr. is “3” and developing “D.” Trent Jr. was Duke’s best shooter, with over half of his field goal attempts from beyond the NCAA three-point line. Trent Jr. will succeed with the green light, where he isn’t afraid to take big shots and drain jumpers in his opponents’ face. Trent’s form is textbook, and he’s able to square his shoulders even when he’s shooting off of the bounce. He rises on his shot, and will attempt – and make shots off of broken plays and scrambled defenses. He’ll be the type of pro that can burn teams because of how confident he can get with his shot. Aside from that, the rest of Trent’s game is…decent. He’s a decent ballhandler and decent scorer at the rim. He has a plus wingspan and solid frame, which project well for his ability to defend on the NBA level.
As I mentioned, Gary Trent, Jr. needs the “D” part of 3&D to develop…or at least show up. Defensively, Trent has the tools, but lacks the focus. He often has defensive lapses, often getting screened and not recovering in time. Athletically, he isn’t particularly quick moving east-west, and he doesn’t have much in the way of first step speed. He’s another player that could be a strictly perimeter player just due to his athletic deficiencies. Trent Jr. also has a tendency to become a black hole on offense as well, looking for his shot more often than he plays within the offense. That could be a big question for teams looking for a role player in his range, rather than a score-first wing.
For a mid-second round prospect, Trent has a projectable role – knockdown shooter. While the “D” part of Trent’s role is a work in progress, he’ll at least come into the NBA with confidence – and a valuable skill. As a one-and-done prospect, Trent Jr. has plenty of time to develop into a more complete player. If drafted by the Nets, he could spend time in the G-League working on his discipline on defense (I hope “defense” and “G-League” isn’t an oxymoron) and his skills as a ballhandler. Picking Trent could be a solid deep draft development pick, rather than an NBA ready 3&D player.
Jevon Carter, Guard, West Virginia (CMP: 39.75)
Carter (not Sean, or Wayne, or Vince) projects as a 3&D point guard. Carter is a rock solid offensive playmaker, making the right decisions on offense, as would be expected from an older prospect. Carter impressed at the NBA Draft Combine, showcasing his solid jumper and ability to set the floor for his teammates. His jumper is quick and rhythmic, and he’s also able to bounce into his shot off the dribble. He makes solid passes on the move, and is pretty quick and decisive in the pick and roll. Defensively will be where Carter will draw the most attention. One strong example of Carter’s defense was against Trae Young in January. Carter held the likely lottery pick to 8-of-22 shooting and 3-of-12 from three. Carter can straight up scare other ballhandlers into passing up shots. He plays with tremendous intensity, and gambles well too, as evidenced by his steals numbers. He takes pride in shutting down other guards, even if he’s at a mismatch. Carter is an in-your-face defender, and likely will bring the same intensity and effort as a pro.
Of course, Carter’s undersized status kinda kills the dream for him ever being anything more than a complementary player. He’s likely to be a player that checks in off the bench to harass a team’s best player, rather than one teams can rely on consistently. He’ll likely be the subject of bully ball, despite his defensive intensity. While he makes decent reads and plays as a point guard, he projects more as a shooter and drive and kick threat in the NBA. He doesn’t have true “floor general” skills at this point, but those issues can be minimized depending on the system.
Like Khyri Thomas, Carter will push players. Even if he doesn’t play much if drafted by the Nets, he could hound and push his teammates to play with intensity. Imagine a defensive bulldog like Carter defending D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Whitehead, or Caris LeVert everyday? Those players could at least be pushed to up their offensive game. While the Nets’ preference for bigger guards is well known, they may not be able to overlook Carter’s defensive intensity, and tone-setting aggression.
Bruce Brown, Jr., Guard, Miami (CMP: 41.75)
In his sophomore year, Brown flew under the radar. The most athletic player of this half of the 3&D players, Brown can finish plays above the rim or through contact. Brown can play solidly with or without the ball in his hands, showing a great feel for cuts, and some shake in his game with the ball. He plays with a sense of urgency on offense, moving quickly through screens and finding his teammates on the move. Brown is pretty confident running pick and roll, where he’s able to make quick decisions when a teammate is rolling. On the boards, Brown, essentially a lead ballhandler at Miami, led his entire team, showing his effort and motor. Brown projects as an impact player on defense from day 1. Along with his solid measurable, Brown brings the same sense of urgency he does on the offensive end. He plays with effort, and is comfortable guarding smaller playmakers or bigger wings. He also isn’t afraid to absorb contact as a defender, and may be the type of player that could do well when switched onto bigs.
Compared to his freshman campaign, Brown was in an offensive sophomore slump. His shooting dropped from 34.7% to 26.7%, despite shooting at a similar rate. His form is compact and smooth, but the timing of his release is something that he’ll need to work on to get back to being a reliable shooter. Playing as a primary playmaker also exposed his often-careless style, where he’d dribble into traffic and force up mid-range jumpers. He’ll need to rein those traits in if he wants to be a secondary ballhandler. Brown has shown confidence to be a do-it-all player on offense, but he hasn’t done anything at an above average level on that side of the ball yet.
Brown had foot surgery earlier this year, so that makes him a candidate for the Nets, right? He was projected initially as a lottery pick earlier this draft cycle, but he fell due to his injury – and because of the performance of his backcourt companion, Lonnie Walker IV. But Brown is the type of player that could be available in the second round and could provide flexible defense right away. The Nets can capitalize on his current low stock and get first round value in the middle of the second-round. It’s the Nets way, right?
Devon Hall, Wing, Virginia (CMP: 56.50)
Low-risk, low-ceiling? That’s Devon Hall. Hall doesn’t project much as high upside prospect, but he could be a rock solid piece on a team’s second unit. Hall has all the trademarks of a four-year player from a well-known program like Virginia. He plays smart, never forcing things on offense, and making the right fills and passes. Hall plays with patience, and reads the defense before he decides to make his move. He’s adequate enough off of the dribble if defenders close out on him. As a shooter, Hall has a fluid lefty stroke that doesn’t take long to leave his fingertips. As a defender, Hall will fight over and under screens, and uses his solid lateral quickness to keep up with offensive players.
This “weaknesses” paragraph is not a cut and paste of other 3&D prospects. Hall is a late second round prospect because he was a role player at the collegiate level, and not truly dominant. While his lefty dribble added some pizazz to his game, he isn’t much of a ballhandler. He’s confident enough to put the ball on the floor, but likely won’t do much aside from straight line drives. He also isn’t an elite athlete, and without a monster wingspan, he could fall under the genre of “hard nosed” and “competitive” defender, rather than a truly versatile one.
Devon Hall fits the profile of a player that could be a player that grinds his way to an NBA rotation. He compensates for his lack of upside with effort and great fundamentals, and will likely slide right into a complementary role. For a player mocked in the 50’s, he could – potentially - be a rotational piece. If so interested, the Nets could buy a pick for him to either play as a two-way player or be a domestic stash.
Up Next: Deep Cuts (second round steals) – Monday, June 18th