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STASH REPORT: Guards Isaia Cordinier, Jaylen Hands playing well

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The latest in our occasional series on the Nets draft stashes. Special thanks to @Mr_Jose_82 who keeps track of them for us.

Brooklyn Nets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Nets now have six draft stashes, five overseas and one with Long Island. It’s their most ever, having added three over the summer.

Of the six, two are having outstanding years: Isaia Cordinier, the 6’5” French point guard acquired in the Jeremy Lin trade in 2018, and Jaylen Hands, the 6’3” UCLA point who was taken with the 56th pick in last year’s draft. The Nets acquired the pick in a Draft Night trade.

Cordinier, who wowed Nets fans with his athleticism in the summer league, is averaging 13 points a game for Nanterre in the French League, but he’s getting kudos for his leadership. Cordinier, just turned 23, still needs to work on his 3-point shooting —something the Nets have worked with him— but his athleticism is causing as much buzz in France as it did in Las Vegas.

But it’s all around game the Nets liked when they asked for him in the Lin trade. Here he is last week, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight boards while playing all 40 minutes for Nanterre.

The week before, he had 19 points and five boards...

He recently was named to the French League All-Star Game and is a strong candidate for Les Bleus, the French national team which has a chance to medal in the Tokyo Olympics next year. (No word on whether his former teammate, Nets two-way Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, will join him.)

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The 20-year-old Hands was always seen as a project. The Nets drafted him with a pick they acquired in the trade that sent the rights to Mfiondu Kabengele, the 6’9” Canadian center, to the Clippers in return for Philadelphia’s lottery-protected first in 2020 and the 56th pick in 2019. The Nets had always planned to stash Hands, who spent two unremarkable seasons at UCLA after a stellar high school career that had him ranked higher than Trae Young and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back in 2017.

Under a little known G League rule, the Nets were able to sign Hands directly to a contract with the Long Island Nets. He doesn’t count against the Nets roster or their salary cap, but they retain his rights. No other NBA team can call him up. And all during last summer, Hands was a sponge, spending a lot of time with Kyrie Irving in particular.

So far, so good.

Other than the Nets two two-ways, Luwawu-Cabarrot is the best prospect on Long Island and he’s by far the youngest. He’s a few months older than Nic Claxton and Dzanan Musa. Hands has always been athletic, with a 41” inch vertical measured at the NBA Draft Combine last May. He also has a 6’6” wingspan (but, no joke, he had the smallest hands in this year’s Combine measurements.)

His biggest issue was turnovers, averaging 3.2 in 31 minutes. A good if not great shooter at UCLA, he put up a 41/37/78 season his sophomore year at Westwood. Playing with Long Island, he’s made progress in both those areas, cutting his turnovers down to 2.4 in 27 minutes while shooting 46/44/75 in the G League.

As the G League’s Twitter feed noted this weekend...

Indeed his two signature games came last week, 22 points, four rebounds and four assists vs. the Westchester Knicks on Wednesday and this game Sunday vs the Lakeland Magic where he went for 28, six and five.

In those two games, Hands has shot 11-of-20 overall, 7-of-17 from three and 6-of-7 from the line.

Will either Cordinier or Hands, who are after all second round picks, ever play for the guard-rich Nets? Good question, but they’re available and could become trade assets down the line.

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The Nets longest held stash —and the last remnant of the Billy King era— is Juan Pablo Vaulet, the Argentine swing man who King and his No. 2, Frank Zanin, advertised as the “next Manu Ginobili” back in 2015. He wasn’t. They traded up for him, taking him at No. 39 after sending Charlotte two seconds and $880,000. JPV has had one injury to his ankles after another since then. Twice, he traveled to Las Vegas for the summer league but being unable to play.

After an unfriendly exit from Bahia Blanca in Argentina back in June, the 23-year-old hooked up with Baxi Manresa in Spain where he’s playing well (enough), averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds primarily at the 3. He’s shooting a little under 33 percent from deep, but he’s regained a lot of his explosiveness.

In fact, his speed and athleticism have earned him a new nickname, “el potro desbocado,” roughly “the runaway foal.”

Earlier this month, he was named the week’s best Latin American player in the Spanish League.

Vaulet is unlikely to make the NBA, although he says it’s still his dream. The Nets had him up for a look-see and health check three years ago. No indication he’s been on their radar much since.

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The biggest mystery of the Nets stash group is Aleksandar Vezenkov of Bulgaria, taken late in the 2017 Draft with the Celtics pick, part of the ignominious trade swap. Sean Marks called Vezenkov, an elite shooter. At 6’9”, he looked like a stretch 4, a position of need for the Nets. But he also needed some polish.

Since then, he’s bounced around Europe. He went from F.C. Barcelona, where like teammate Rodions Kurucs, he was benched as part of a team policy: If you have NBA ambitions, why should we commit to develop you.

Then in 2018, he moved to Greek and Euroleague powerhouse Olympiakos. Vezenkov has Greek citizenship as well as Bulgarian and Cypriot so he appealed to the the team in port city of Pireus. Under David Blatt, he got some minutes early but again was confined to a bench role.

Lately, he’s been getting more minutes. In the last three games, he played a total of 58 minutes, far more than at any point in the young season. On Friday, he had his best game.

He can still shoot when he gets into games. This year, he’s hitting 61.5 percent of his two-point attempts, 54.5 percent of his three’s and 75 percent of his free throws. Last June, he joined Kurucs and Cordinier in Madrid for a Nets shooting clinic run by their “tele-coach” Stefan Weissenboeck. Here’s Rodi’s Instagram post. That’s Cordinier in the foreground, Vezenkov in the back.

What’s his future? Don’t know but the Nets liked him enough to draft him and offer him instruction. It will be interesting to see how he does for the rest of the season in the Euroleague.

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That leaves the two stashes picked up in the DeMarre Carroll S&T, Aaron White, an American who’s played in Europe since being taken by the Wizards in 2015, and Nemanja Dangubic, a Serb who was taken by the Spurs in 2014 when Marks was an assistant coach in San Antonio. White is 27, Dangubic is 28. Neither are having big years.

White, a traditional power forward at 6’9”. He’s with Milano in the Euroleague, moving this summer from Kaunas Zalgiris in Lithuania. Milano may be a better team —and Milan a better city— than Kaunas, but White has been playing behind Luis Scola who proved in this year’s FIBA World Cup that he’s still got it at 39. Ettore Messina is his coach, another Spurs connection.

White is playing less than 10 minutes a game in the Euroleague and is averaging only 2.8 points a game and 1.2 rebounds. He can shoot a bit from three, hitting a third of his shots. Last summer, before the trade, it looked like the Wizards might invite him to training camp, but instead he decided to sign with Milano and the Wizards traded him.

Dangubic has been the least successful (and the oldest) of the Nets stashes. He’s playing for Estudiantes in Madrid and having a tough year. A 6’8” swingman with a reputation as a shooter, he’s hitting less than a fifth of his three’s —16.7 percent to be exact— and not even hitting 40 percent of his two-point shots. Not a good look. He is playing 21 minutes a game. Ironically, he and Vaulet faced off back in October. Dangubic had seven points and missed all his three’s. Vaulet had his best game of the season with 16 points. Dangubic’s team won.

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What’s the value of having so many stashes? Think trade pieces. Rather than give up future second rounders, a team can work out complicated deals using stashes. Their chess pieces for future use ... maybe even development pieces.