It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Nets two picks from Thursday night will take some time to develop. After all, Dzanan Musa just turned 19 and will be the second youngest Net ever. Rodions Kurucs just turned 20 and didn’t play a lot this past year. And most players taken at Nos. 29 and 40 aren’t sure things either.
Brian Lewis spoke with ESPN’s international basketball expert, Fran Fraschilla, in recent days. He thinks the Nets prospects will take a while to reach their potential.
“[Musa’s] skill level is good to have. But now he’s a piece of NBA silly putty. It’s up to Kenny Atkinson and his staff to mold him into an NBA player,” Fraschilla said. “We’re talking about a guy who’s not going to reach his optimal potential until 27, 28. He’s not a guy that’s going to come in and immediately have an impact. But he’s not a project. He’s a talent.
Fraschilla told Lewis that Musa will need a lot of strength work, saying he’s “physically a work in progress” but mentally tough.
“On the court, he’s got that edge, that ‘I’m the best guy on the court and you suck’ mentality,” Fraschilla said. “These kids from that region of Europe come from tough, not necessarily wealthy, backgrounds. Basketball for these kids is a way out, like it is for a kid from The Bronx. He earned that swagger well.”
Kurucs, who’s listed 25 pounds heavier than Musa, has another issue, said Fraschilla. He noted that despite his talent, F.C. Barcelona, wary of developing a player headed to the NBA, kept him down on the farm, in the Spanish league second division. (Similarly, Barca benched last year’s Nets pick, Aleksandar Vezenkov.)
“He’s probably going to be in the G-League. I don’t see him being a factor early on,” Fraschilla said. “He’s got some talent. There’s long-range potential. But you don’t know how much of it has been muted by missing all that time. You’re betting on an imperfect [situation].“In his age group, he’s always been very good, a dominant player. That’s what the Nets are banking on.”
Another scout described Kurucs as “A big wing who can shoot it, probably not as athletic as Musa, but I like his toughness.”
At Friday’s press conference, Marks didn’t disagree with the suggestion one or both could see time with the Long Island Nets.
“Absolutely not. If you take into account what the G-League is for, hopefully we use that to the best of our ability,” said Marks, noncommittal on their positions. “This goes back to the NBA where it’s a league of versatility now. I’d hate to pigeonhole any of these guys. … It’s far too early for me or anybody else to decide this is the role or this is the position.”
But the Nets GM also said the Nets coaching, development and performance team’s track record with a number of projects gave him added confidence in the two’s chances for success.
“It affords the front office the ability to say, ‘Let’s take a young guys like Caris LeVert, coming off a couple injuries. Let’s take a young guy like Jarrett Allen that needs to develop. Let’s take these two young men for example, where you’re saying how we develop them as basketball players, how we develop them as young men.”
- Scouts dump bucket of cold water on Nets draft excitement - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- How will Nets draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs transition to the NBA game? - Michael Scotto - The Athletic New York