In case you already forgot, this was the third straight summer where the Nets made an unexpected draft pick in the first round of the yearly selection process.
The follow-up act to 2016’s Caris LeVert and 2017’s Jarrett Allen was Dzanan Musa, taken 29th or next-to-last in the first round.
Musa didn’t expect his name to be called by Brooklyn either … until 24 hours earlier.
The 6’9” Bosnian forward revisited his draft night with NetsDaily at Media Day on Monday, when he noted the Nets were “probably the last team” he spoke with in the pre-draft process. After winning the Croatian League championship in early June and working out at the European version of the Pre-Draft combine near Venice, he arrived in the U.S. in early June and promptly flew around the country, hitting six NBA gyms for lengthy workouts.
Then, with the Draft a couple of days away, his agent got a call. Would Musa drop by the Nets training facility? They wanted to meet with him the day before the Draft. Because he was using New York as his home base, he said why not.
“I spoke with the Nets just the day before the draft. Until then I had never spoken with them,” Musa reflected. “I think that was kind of destiny because after I spoke with them, I went to my hotel with my family. Even though they (the Nets) had the 29th pick and I was projected to go sooner, I said, ‘I think this is the best spot for me.’ And my family was like, ‘Okay, we’ll see what happens.’”
Then, the big night arrived and at No. 29, sure enough, Adam Silver called his name.
“I was so emotional. I started to cry when I saw the cameras on me. It means the world to me that I’m in the NBA. I’ve worked my whole life to be in this position and I’m very happy that I ended up with Brooklyn,” he added.
In one aspect, Musa says the meeting was a bit odd. No workout, just a talk and the basics. He says he had been given no indication of the Nets interest until that Wednesday in New York.
“Nothing happened, it was so strange. I came here, I did my physicals, my exercises and that’s it. Nothing special, but they knew … I think they picked up perfectly,” Musa said.
“It was weird because that was the last team and it all happened so quick. I knew only three days before that I was going to have an interview with the Brooklyn Nets and I said, ‘Okay, I’m in New York already, so it doesn’t matter.’ But when I came to here I was so surprised with the practice facility, with the staff, with everybody.”
In fact, the Nets didn’t need much to convince them. They had scouted Musa for years, the last time in March when Sean Marks traveled to Zagreb in Croatia to watch him play in big league game. Musa came off the bench and scored 14 points in 21 minutes.
After his name was called it felt like one big blur to Musa after months of physical and mental fatigue.
“I was on the phone with Sean and Kenny (Atkinson). They said, ‘We’re happy to have you here.’ But it was all like a dream that night,” Musa said with a laugh. “I was so tired and so emotionally exhausted and when I came into the hotel, I just fell asleep. I didn’t celebrate. I didn’t do anything. I just wanted to sleep.”
Asked if he ever spoke to Marks and the Nets regarding why the team waited so long to contact Musa, he smiled and responded: “Nah, I didn’t, but I actually am going to talk with them when I see him.”