The Draft Is Upon Us!
Next week, we may very well have a different team to root for, with either ecstatic draft picks or veteran players who arrive via Draft Day (or Night) trades. Actually, more likely both!
How soon might we know? Here’s some historic perspective.
—The D’Angelo Russell - Brook Lopez trade was reported late Tuesday afternoon and finalized during the second round of Thursday’s draft.
—The Thaddeus Young for two picks was first reported mid-morning on Thursday, Then, we had to wait all day to see who the Nets would take.
—The dreaded Boston deal was completed in two sections, the first smaller part —Paul Pierce for Kris Humphries and the 2016 unprotected first rounder — was agreed on Tuesday night, then expanded on Wednesday and Thursday, broken at 1 p.m. (actually 12:59) on Thursday but not agreed to until 10 p.m. then revised the next morning!
Oh yeah, each and every one of those was broken by one Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter. The only one hinted at earlier was the DLo deal which Woj speculated about on Monday during a podcast.
What we have been told to expect is a wild evening of trades and surprising picks all the way through the second round, driven not so much by talent but the need for many teams to get under the luxury tax threshold. The general belief is that the draft is deep, but has a severe drop-off after 10 to 12, with the top four still unsettled ... and made even more unsettled by rumors of a Kawhi Leonard trade (NOT to the Nets). Just as last year’s draft was point guard-heavy at the top this year’s is big-heavy. There are a good number of solid picks at the 2 and 3, but of course (as of now) that’s where the Nets are deepest.
The Nets are locked-up in terms of their strategy. Not a lot of leaks. Everyone reports that the team wants to move up and there are rumors of them taking on salary dumps and higher draft picks from Charlotte (Dwight Howard) or Denver (Kenneth Faried). Also, it’s a good bet that the Nets will use a pick in the second round on a stash in Europe. They could also buy a pick which they have done eight times in eight years at a cost of $9,8 million. The Nets have $5.1 million they have to use by June 30 or lose it.
See ya Thursday.
Draft Sleepers in Review
Here’s our list of possible Nets picks, most of them first round prospects...
Week 1 - Chandler Huthicson 6’7” Boise State
Week 2 - Dzanan Musa, 6’9” Cedvita, Croatia
Week 3 - Hamidou Diallo, 6’6” Kentucky
Week 4 - Jontay Porter, 6’11” Missouri
Week 5 - Brandon McCoy, 7’1” UNLV
Week 6 - Grayson Allen, 6’5” Duke
Week 7 - Donte DiVincenzo, 6’6” Villanova
Week 8 - Moritz Wagner, 7’0” Michigan
Week 9 - Lonnie Walker, 6’6” Miami
Week 10 - Josh Okogie, 6’4” Georgia Tech (see below).
How’s our record, historically? It sucks, basically. We’ve hit on a few over the years — Ryan Anderson in 2008; Chris McCollough in 2015; Isaiah Whitehead in 2016 — but it proves we aren’t NBA scout material.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
Josh Okogie is built for the Nets offense. Hyper-athletic and a good shooter, he’s also fearless, going to the line an average seven times a game.
A solidly built 6’4”, he has a 7’0” wingspan and a Combine-best 42” max vertical, which translates into a 12’ max reach. He also had the fastest three-quarter court sprint (3.04 seconds) at the Combine. That’s very similar to Hamidou Diallo or Donte DiVincenzo.
Okogie is also a solid 3-point shooter, hitting better than 38 percent from deep in his two year career at GT. He also has a rep for defense.
He was slated as a high second rounder before he wowed NBA scouting circles with his performance at the Combine. He could use some help with his shot mechanics and ball handling but that’s what development teams do for a living.
Here’s a highlight reel. Oohs and Ahhs permitted.
The other thing attractive about Okogie is that he’s a fast riser, not just in terms of his leaping ability but in his improvement from high school in Georgia to Georgia Tech, as one of the reporters who covered him notes...
Over the course of nearly 30 years as a sports writer, I’ve watched numerous HS athletes grow up right before my eyes and make it to the pros. This kid may have come the farthest in less time than any of them. Good luck in the upcoming NBA draft @CallMe_NonStop. https://t.co/Mzz0HtmXQN— David Friedlander (@DFried_GDP) June 15, 2018
A side note on Okogie. He is Nigerian-American, born in Lagos before coming to the U.S. as a child. One of the great underreported stories in basketball of late is the rise of African players, either first of second generation. Joel Embiid of the Cameroon opened a lot of eyes with how fast he developed. Expect a lot more scouting in sub-Saharan Africa.
By the way, the Hoopshype aggregate mock draft, combining the top six mocks, projects the Nets would walk away with Josh Okogie; Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt. I’d sign up for that.
Randy Foye’s Value
A lot of us have scratched our head as to why the Nets have hung on to Randy Foye’s cap hold of $3 million. He can’t be packed off in a trade, having not played this season, but Bobby Marks solved this little bit of a mystery in his column Saturday on team needs.
Because of the arcane CBA, having Foye around during free agency permits the Nets to grab on to both the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions. Sean Marks may not need to use them, but with Foye around, he has the flexibility...
Brooklyn can keep Randy Foye’s $3 million free-agent hold and act like a team over the salary cap. Doing so would leave the Nets with the $8.6 million midlevel and $3.4 million biannual exception to use. Because the $1.5 million Joe Harris free-agent hold is not removed, Brooklyn would still retain early Bird rights on the guard. The Nets also would have the 175 percent traded player exception to use in a deal and the $1.9 million trade exception created when Rashad Vaughn was sent to New Orleans.
It’s complicated but the Nets keep saying they want to be competitive this season. That thinking will drive them on Draft Night and in free agency ... maybe even spend some money. That doesn’t suggest that they will try to replicate Mikhail Prokhorov’s 2013 Dream Team but Marks has aid the team’s owners are willing to spend.
“We already know we have an ownership group that is ready to fork out the big money when that timing is right,” Marks said at his end-of-the-season press conference, a reference perhaps to Prokhorov’s willingness to pay out $90 million in luxury taxes in 2014. “But again, we don’t want to skip any steps along this rebuild. I think if we skip steps and think we can do it right now or we could’ve done it a year ago, that’s when franchises end up digging themselves into a hole. They lose the flexibility in which to build and win with.”
In any event, it’s good to know the Nets could have some flexibility.
Langdon Leaving Less Likely?
Trajan Langdon was at workouts this week in Brooklyn, as shown in a couple of videos on the Nets official site. He was not in Detroit and a couple of tweets posted from Detroit Saturday made us think he’ll be sticking around.
A bit of clarity. #Pistons are exploring assistant GMs to oversee three possible areas: scouting, player development and analytics. Ed Stefanski could have senior adviser title removed and is named GM/POBO. https://t.co/zSIMI9WuOW— Vince_Ells56 (@Vincent_Ellis56) June 16, 2018
No mention of Langdon ... and that is the positive news. Two other names, Brent Barry and Malik Rose, were mentioned for what look like No. 2 or No. 3 level jobs. And it seems increasingly likely that Ed Stefanski is sticking around ... and as No. 1 ... not as an adviser or mentor to a younger GM-in-waiting.
Putting aside money, which of course we know nothing about, it would appear that the Nets are at least as attractive as Detroit. And remember the Pistons have already hired a new head coach. So the GM or assistant GM won’t have any say in that crucial decision.
It’s official: both Aleksandr Vezenkov, Bulgaria, and Juan Pablo Vaulet, Argentina, will both be playing at the end of the month in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, two game sets that will help determine the field for the 2019 World Cup in China.
The two 22-year-olds are practicing with their respective national teams and we’ll cover them —and Timofey Mozgov, Russia, as well as any “friendly” exhibition games.
Here’s the schedule...
June 28-July 1 - FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Americas. Juan Pablo Vaulet, the Nets 6’7” stash from the 2015 Draft, plays for Argentina in the final round of qualifiers for the World Cup 2019. Argentina will play Panama and Uruguay.
June 29-July 2 - FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Europe. Aleksandar Vezenkov, the Nets 6’9” stash from the 2017 Draft, plays for Bulgaria in final round of qualifiers for World Cup 2019. Bulgaria must beat the Czech Republic and Iceland to qualify.
But what about the next week ... in Las Vegas? Will we see Vaulet and Vezenkov, both 22, in the Summer League. The Nets don’t release their SL roster until just before the games, but Vaulet says he’ll be there while Vezenkov says he won’t be, according to interviews they’ve done with local media...
Former second-round pick Juan Pablo Vaulet (6-7 SF ‘96) will play in the NBA Summer League for the Brooklyn Nets, the team that owns his NBA rights. pic.twitter.com/eKxAgY7GqC— Prospects Argentina (@ProspectsARG) June 11, 2018
So it looks like Vaulet will jet from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Las Vegas to join the Nets. He may have a teammate ascompany on the flight. Julian Mozo, the Argentine reporter who broke the story about Vaulet joining the Nets summer league team, reported on Tuesday that he’s been “assured” Nico Brussino, the 6’9” Argentine swingman who worked out for the Nets last week, has “a good chance” to play for the Nets summer league team. Brussino, 25, played four games for the Hawks early last year before joining Gran Canaria in the Spanish League. And adds Monzo, assistant coach Pablo Prigioni, a veteran of the Argentine national team, will be there as well.
The big problem for Vezenkov is that F.C. Barcelona hasn’t decided yet what to do with his team option. He told Bulgaria media this week he doesn’t want to talk about the Spanish team who essentially benched him for a year.
We plan team coverage of the Draft with reporters at both HSS Training Center, home of the Nets war room, and Barclays Center, where for the eighth straight year, the Nets will host the Draft. Charles Maniego will finish up his seven part Draft Guide on Tuesday, the same day we reserve for our deadly serious review of nearly 20 years of Nets Draft Nights, which we call “Blunders and Wonders.”