On a day marked by one big surprise, the Nets surprised basically no one with their picks of two young and similarly skilled European swingmen. Dzazan Musa of Bosnia and Rodions Kurucs of Latvia fit the team’s culture, style and most importantly, their long term development plan.
With the 29th and 40th picks in a top-heavy draft, the Nets couldn’t have expected to come away with picks like Caris LeVert or Jarrett Allen as they did the last two years. This was going to be a different draft. Musa just turned 19 last month, Kurucs 20 in February.
Also, unlike other young Europeans who the Nets have taken in the past, both will be playing for Brooklyn (and maybe Long Island) next season.
According to recent comments by the ultimate draftniks, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz, the two should both be considered sleeper picks with a lot of potential. Givony said it’s possible Kurucs, the Latvian, could turn out to be “the best international prospect in the Draft after Luka Doncic,” while Schmitz said Musa, the Bosnian “would have been taken much higher had he agreed to be stashed in Europe next year.”
Sean Marks who scouted both players personally, spoke after the Draft with the media about the two 6’9”+ swingmen, treating them almost as a unit. The Nets will introduce Musa and Kurucs to the media on Friday, at HSS Training Center.
Here’s his take on the two Europeans and how he thought the night went.
On their overall offensive skills:
“Well I think both guys are pretty dynamic offensive players. I mentioned before the size and the skill level they’ve been playing at, you Greg (Logan) mentioned the 3-point shooting. We’ve scouted them enough and evaluated some areas we think we can make some gains for them. Shooting is obviously at a premium in this league, and we think both guys will be able to contribute in that way as well as others.”
On their defense:
“Sounds like you’ve been scouting our guys. Look I think it’s a transition for anybody that comes to the NBA, whether its from Europe, college or so forth. I will say both young men have been playing at a high level against very good competition, so they’ve been playing against some of the very elite basketball players in the world. And this is going to be another step up from them. But the international game is something that obviously I admire and Kenny admires and we’ve followed them closely.”
On system fit:
“Everybody we would look at you’d hope would have some dynamic to their game as a system fit; defensively, upside, talent, you name it, all the little characteristics we look for. And I think we think both those two gentlemen are a good fit not only on the court but off the court.”
How quick can they make an impact?
“You never quite know when guys are coming over, again, whether that’s coming from the US college system or coming from Europe. Again I think those guys have played at a high level of maturity with both of them, some of the experiences that they’ve gone through that will certainly help and guide them through this transition to Brooklyn.”
Would playing in the G-League a step back?
“Absolutely not. If you take into account what the G League is for, hopefully we use that to the best of our ability and we will continue to see that grow and evolve over time. I think you’re going to see a lot of people coming through the G league using the G League in a manner that will truly help to develop these guys.”
Biggest takeaways in talking to them?
“Their willingness to learn, get better, develop and their competitive fire”
On Dzanan Musa and his game:
“We’ve enjoyed watching him play, he’s very dynamic. Obviously his offensive skills are pretty special. Has size for his position. He was playing at a very, very high level. He’s a very competitive young man. We’ve enjoyed getting to know him … interview and watching him play in Europe.”
His background, living alone (from age 11), do you think that’s helped his maturity, game?
“I would think so. I think it’s added something to his make-up and so forth and the dynamic when you come to a borough like Brooklyn. He’s well-versed, he’s traveled through Europe. He’s played at a very, very high level. He’s been living on his own from a young age and basketball is what he knows. He’s been playing at a high level and those are things we’ll certainly hope will translate as he makes the move the adjustment to Brooklyn.”
Will he come over and complete the buyout?
On Rodions Kurucs and his game:
“Obviously one is just simply the size for position for him. We love the fact that with the age of both guys there’s a lot of development there with their bodies and so forth. Again, I think both are really great development pieces for our coaching staff, performance staff and so forth to get their hands on. I’m intrigued about what they can do for both players as it pertains to Rodions, I think, again, playing on an elite level in Europe for quite some time. I think that transition will be seamless, it never is for anybody, and it’ll help with his stepping stones as he gets used to Brooklyn.”
Did Rodions not playing as much cause him to fall into your lap?
“It could well have. I’m not 100% sure why he was there when we had picked. But again, he was a guy that we’ve been targeting for quite some time. So, again, we’re thrilled to get our hands on him.”
Did his buyout of $4 million contribute to some teams staying away?
“It could’ve. We’ll figure out the buyout as we roll through this.” (Jonathan Givony of ESPN says that in recent weeks, F.C. Barcelona relented and has substantially reduced the number. Under NBA rules, the Nets can pay up to $675,000 of an international buyout.)
You expect him here?
“I think we expect both guys to be here. That’s the plan.”
How would you describe trade talks with other teams as you were trying to move up from the draft?
“Pretty much par for the course. There’s a lot of scuttlebutt that’s reported out in the media and so forth. I think a lot of people are trying to be aggressive, whether that’s moving up, moving out and so forth. We’re always listening to offers. We’re always trying to make the right deals. But then again, you’re weighing that against what’s on your draft board. The cost of doing such a deal. I think we’re thrilled to have both those guys where we picked them.”
Did the Dwight Howard moves —the trade, then the buyout rumor —keep you from moving up?
“I think the group that we have in the front office is pretty curious and creative in how they’ve come up with things. To be honest we were weighing a lot of different scenarios, and I don’t think anything would have inhibited us from doing what we wanted to do. So ya know…:”
In addition to speaking with the media, Marks recorded a short message for Nets fans.