Welcome, Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson, who was named assistant GM and Trajan Langdon’s replacement Saturday. is a bit of an unknown quantity — other than within the scouting and basketball operations communities. There, he’s been seen as a rising star.
Only 30 and a Hawks lifer (seven years), most of Peterson’s experience has been in scouting. He began his career in Atlanta in 2012 after being hired as a seasonal basketball operations assistant. A year later, he was promoted to coordinator of basketball operations and was then named as the team’s director of scouting in 2015. Just before the 2016 Draft, he was named assistant GM (at the age of 27) by Wes Wilcox. When Wilcox resigned after a racially insensitive remark in May 2017 and was ultimately replaced by Travis Schlenk who kept Peterson.
Peterson has several connections with the Nets. He, Kenny Atkinson and Jordan Ott, who worked with Atkinson in both Atlanta and Brooklyn, overlapped in Atlanta, Atkinson for four seasons, Ott for three. Tiago Splitter played for the Hawks in 2015-16 and DeMarre Carroll 2013-14 and 2014-15. And since Peterson was director of scouting in the run-up to the 2016 NBA Draft, you have to think he knows a bit about Nets stash Isaia Cordinier who the Hawks drafted in the second round that year.
Peterson reportedly played an instrumental role in last year’s Draft Day trade that sent the Hawks’ No. 5 pick to the Mavericks for the No. 3 pick and the Mavs first rounder in this year’s draft. Ultimately that became a trade of Luka Doncic for Trae Young and whoever Atlanta takes on June 20 with the 10th pick, which ESPN currently projects as Texas center Jaxson Hayes. Both teams are happy with the outcome. Doncic and Young are finalists for Rookie of the Year and the 10th pick in this year’s draft could be used in a variety of ways to help the Hawks move forward.
In fact, the Hawks have done very well in the Draft the past three years, picking up John Collins and Kevin Heurter as well as Young. And Peterson was working out draft prospects just last week before talks with the Nets intensified.
Peterson has also been very visible in Atlanta. Take, for example, his video prior to last year’s draft in which he described just how the Draft process works.
Fly in ✔️— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 2, 2018
Asst. GM Jeff Peterson walks us through the draft prospect process and more: pic.twitter.com/yGTT6M6Hwz
He did something similar in 2017 on what scouts look for in workouts. (The Hawks have taken it down.) He even briefed reporters on possible selections. That’s unlikely in Brooklyn. The Hawks have a very different media culture than the Nets. Atlanta is aggressive; Brooklyn keeps all its issues very quiet. Still, speaking of draft workouts...
The identities of draft prospects who’ve worked out for the Nets is a state secret. Unlike a lot of other teams, the Nets do not either identify those who’ve been in or discuss their workout. If an agent or manager or family member —or even the player himself— discloses the workout, that’s fine.
So, we are left to trolling social media to see who’s been in. We aren’t saying it’s a complete list, but it’s a list. Here is what we know, thanks to @Mr_Jose_82, formerly @GNYR.
—Dylan Windler 6’8” F, Belmont, senior
—Neemias Queta, 6’11” C, Utah State, freshman
—Ky Bowman, 6’1” PG, Boston College, junior
—Amir Coffey, 6’8” SG, Minnesota, junior
—Dewan Hernandez, 6’11” C, Miami, junior
—Jalen Pickett, 6’4” PG, Siena, freshman
—Jarrell Brantley, 6’7” PF, College of Charleston, senior
—Justin Simon, 6’5” SG, St. John’s, junior
—Max Strus, 6’6” SG, DePaul, senior
—Myles Powell, 6’2” SG, Seton Hall, junior
—Oshae Brissett, 6’8” SF, Syracuse, sophomore
—Skylar Mays, 6’4” PG, LSU, junior
—Brandon Clarke, 6’8” PF Gonzaga, junior
—Amir Hinton, 6’5” PG, Shaw, junior
—John Konchar, 6’5” SG, Purdue Fort Wayne, senior
Of those listed —and again, there might be more— Clarke is rated the highest at No. 11 in the latest ESPN mock draft. Windler is seen as a high second rounder and in fact, ESPN projects him at No. 31 to the Nets. Among the others, only Naz Reid is ranked by ESPN and he’s down at No. 49. A couple of the others are interesting. Hinton is a Division II star who averaged nearly 30 points a game and Powell and Brissett are locals.
In addition, both Kevin Porter Jr., who ESPN has at No. 14, and Jontay Porter, mocked at No. 43, said they were interviewed by the Nets. Jontay Porter won’t play this year after suffering his second torn ACL but many in the league think his talents are worth the risk.
The Nets worked out and/or interviewed at least 70 prospects in individual sessions last off-season —and that didn’t include Rodions Kurucs, who they didn’t work out. Dzanan Musa wasn’t interviewed until two days prior to the Draft ... in Brooklyn.
The front office of course are looking at prospects not just for their three picks (currently) but for two-ways and other G League openings. And speaking of the G-League, Trajan Langdon spoke at his Pelicans’ introductory press conference about being the GM of the Long Island Nets and what he learned in the three years: the culture is important everywhere.
“I think there were some things we did the first year that were about player selection and roster building that we felt was not applicable to what we wanted to do going forward and we learned a lot from that, and after that it was okay what can we do to bring in the right players to fit around these young guys that are going to be playing on Long Island that we’re going to developing.
“It’s not only about the players that we drafted or picked as two-way players, but also about the Exhibit 10s that we had. What was the character of those players? Were they willing to buy into something bigger than themselves? It’s incredibly difficult to keep a team together after January when those 10 days start and guys are super excited about being called up and then they don’t get called up. That is a difficult time to keep the roster focused and together, I think that was one thing we were able to do the last two years.”
In other words, the Nets need to find supporting actors in Long Island who are not going to get that 10-day call-up but who are all-in on the franchise’s goals. By year 3, Long Island has apparently solved those issues, getting to the G League Finals and winning Langdon the league’s Executive of the Year award.
“I was tremendously honored with the award. But for me it was an organizational award, I don’t think those awards are about one person. It wasn’t a job that I did myself. I had a lot of people helping me there. And a lot of what we did mirrored what we did in Brooklyn. So it wasn’t just about me.”
Draft Sleeper of the Week
The middle of the first round is reportedly “flat,” that is, the talent and potential are somewhat even. So, there will be surprises as draft stock will go up and down. As a result, the Nets will work out and/or interview players now slated as end-of-the-lottery selections to make sure they’re not faced with a surprise at No. 17. Some player has dropped; a medical red flag needs to be examined; etc.
So let’s take a look at Kevin Porter Jr., the USC point guard. Here’s the
Porter will start getting looks as high as the middle of the lottery, but he has some questions to answer during the pre-draft process about his approach to the game.
At this stage of the draft, the rewards likely outweigh the risks, as Porter can become another creator on the perimeter who can shoulder some scoring load. Porter has the size and versatility to slot into a variety of lineup configurations.
What’s that “approach to the game” mean specifically?
Porter has a reputation for being a bit wild, unfocused, with decision-making sometimes an issue. He’s had run-ins with his coach. On the other hand, the Nets decided to put him on their interview list ... and he’s being mentored now by fellow Seattle native, Jamal Crawford, another positive. So they’re interested.
And Porter is a talent. He’s got NBA size at 6’6” and can slash, hit the three and take over when necessary. He’s also a smart kid. Bottom line: in other words, he’s a bit of a risk, but one the Nets may very well be willing to take if he drops a little. Here’s a highlight package.
And here’s his interview at the Draft Combine.
Yeah, yeah, he’s a point guard and the Nets have a lot of them and may very well be interested in Kyrie Irving. But 1) things change and 2) the Nets are still in the BPA, best player available, mode. In a “flat” draft, lots of opportunities can arise.
More Isaia Cordinier Highlights!
The French League is over and we still are uncertain that Isaia Cordinier, the Nets stash will play in Las Vegas this summer. In the meantime, here’s his season’s highlights...
He’s, as we’ve reported (ad nauseum), he is very athletic. Maybe he’s a second round equivalent.
Dinwiddie’s poetic response to a rumor
Spencer Dinwiddie is one smart guy. So he’s not unaware of what a Nets pursuit of Kyrie Irving and a pairing of Irving and D’Angelo Russell would mean to him. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Nets will trade Dinwiddie and his very reasonable contract for a big man (something that can happen after June 14.)
So he took to Instagram Sunday and posted a poem about where he stands.
View this post on Instagram
“Think if I call it the great, the people gon' call it the truth, Ain't really trip on the credit, I just payed all of my dues I just respected the game, now my name all in the news Tripping on all of my moves, quote me on this, got a lot more to prove Remember I came in this thing, fresh out the county with nothing to lose...” #AudienceOfOne #K8IROS
As we get closer to free agency, know this: there WILL be unpopular decisions as the Nets pursue big free agents. Players will be traded or not brought back. It will depend on the scenarios.
Back at work
Piece by piece, we can see that Nets players are returning to Brooklyn. Joe Harris appeared at a season ticket-holder event in the middle of the week, then over the weekend, Chris Brickley, DLo’s trainer, posted this video of Russell working out at HSS Training Center.
DLo getting work in at Nets practice facility.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) May 24, 2019
Posted 1:22am (via @Cbrickley603 Instagram.)
It’s no surprise to see DLo at HSS early in the morning. He’s done it in each of his three off-seasons, but it’s still great to see.
By the way, the latest rumor has Russell “dating” Kelsey Plum of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
D’Angelo Russell Dating WNBA Star Kelsey Plum https://t.co/2iSwmT5A6b— Terez Owens (@TerezOwens) May 27, 2019
But if you read closer, all the story notes is that they were seen “acting like a couple.” Maybe they were talking shooting?
Best of luck to the former Nets players and staff who’ll be playing for a championship starting Thursday in Toronto The Raptors have multiple connections. There’s Jeremy Lin, who’s on the bench but staying “ready;” Jamaal Magloire, the former Raptor and Net who now works in the Raptors front office, focusing on community relations and former Nets assistant coach Jimmy Sann has the same job in Toronto. Sann suffered a heart attack at a Nets practice back in February 2015, you may recall. He’s obviously fine now.
We would have liked to see Brook Lopez in the Finals ... but Kawhi Leonard.