After taking a 6’9” Bosnian at No. 29 in the first round, the Nets followed up by taking another 6’9” European, Rodions Kurucs of Latvia and F.C. Barcelona, 11 picks later in the second round. Both picks came to the Nets in last July’s DeMarre Carroll-for-Justin Hamilton trade.
Kurucs, 20, has been on the Nets radar for two years. Sean Marks personally scouted him in Barcelona a year ago. Despite obvious talent, F.C. Barcelona has played Kurucs sparingly, apparently because he’s long had his eyes on the NBA and they preferred developing young players who would stay in Europe. As a result, he played only six games and 42 minutes this season with Barca.
The Latvian big man has instead spent most of the past two years with Barcelona’s junior team.
However, he traveled to L.A. recently for a Pro Day where Marks and Trajan Langdon were among those on hand to scout him. Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz offered high praise of him Monday after watching him, saying Kurucs could turn out to be “the best international prospect in the Draft after Luka Doncic.”
There’s still plenty of talent here. He’s an intriguing option as a bench small-ball 4. His recent change in contract situation in Barcelona will also make his future development much easier. Kurucs’ camp was able to get his buyout significantly lowered, allowing a team to bring him over next season or find a new home for him to develop in Europe. Kurucs lost far too much key time sitting on the bench in Barcelona, so this added flexibility is huge for his growth potential. It’s not out of the question that Kurucs -- once considered a potential lottery pick -- turns out to be the best international prospect in the draft after Doncic.
ESPN posted video of the Pro Days.
Like Musa, Kurucs is expected to play with the Nets this season although it’s entirely possible he’ll get most of his minutes with the Long Island Nets. Expect the Nets with their love for tall guards to even experiment with him at the 2. And in some small ball situations, he can play a bit of the 4 as well.
Here are some highlights of him playing in Spain’s junior league last year...
He has had a series of injuries over the last several years, but as of now, he’s the healthiest Latvian big man playing professional basketball in New York.