Even before the coronavirus hit the NBA, we decided not to put too much faith in the mock drafts. Why? Because last year, the Nets went into June with two first rounders and a second. By Draft Night, the Nets wound up with two seconds. Sean Marks decided to move picks to get more cap space and less cap holds so he could sign a couple of decent players a week after the Draft.
This year, the Nets have two picks, one in each round. Before the NBA was suspended, the picks were No. 20 in the first and No. 55 in the second. The first round pick is the 76ers lottery protected pick; the second round pick is the Nuggets pick. The Nets own pick was sent to the Hawks in the Allen Crabbe salary dump.
Of course, the Nets scouting corps will have less of a big picture than in the past with March Madness being shut down. The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for college seniors, often a source of second round and undrafted gems, has been cancelled. And workouts which usually start in April are a question mark. So is the Draft Combine, which is scheduled to take place May 21-24.
Finally, the Draft is scheduled for June 25 at Barclays Center. Will the city and state restrictions on crowds still be in effect?
ALL THAT SAID, the draft in some form will take place and as long as there’s a draft, there will be draftniks, those who compile mock drafts. So, here’s what we see, so far: It’s unsettled of course but a couple of players are being linked to the Nets.
Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have the Nets taking Villanova small forward Saddiq Bey, a 6’8” shooter. Why? Well first of all, there’s this image from February 21.
Always love having VU b-ball alum @USAB_BJ back - doing great things for @BrooklynNets front office . Also honored to have their leadership visit - Andy Birdsong and Sean Marks . pic.twitter.com/t6qvCxE41k— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) February 21, 2020
Wright didn’t get into details about the visit, or the date of the photo. But in the game before the tweet, Bey scored 20 points, shot 7-of-13 overall, 5-of-7 from deep and handed out seven assists in a blowout win over DePaul.
Here’s some highlights. What comes through is his fundamentals...
If you’re looking for other Nets-like qualities, this is a kid who transferred from DeMatha Catholic in suburban Washington, D.C., a great basketball school, to Sidwell Friends, an academic powerhouse.
Here’s a good analysis of his game and how he fits with the Nets from Sports Illustrated...
Bey has taken a major leap forward this season, and while his style of play is unspectacular, he’s been shooting the ball extremely well from distance and has the right body type and physical tools to be a long-time NBA role player. It’s no secret that teams tend to feel fairly comfortable drafting Villanova products, and with the Nets positioned to take a leap forward when Kevin Durant returns next season, landing a guy here who could at least be a viable rotation body early on would make some sense. Bey isn’t dynamic with the ball in his hands and isn’t crazy explosive or agile, but there’s no glaring hole in his skill set, either. If his shooting is for real, he should return value here. As it stands, he’s trending toward the first round if he elects to turn pro.
Also, two mocks have the Nets taking Patrick Williams of Florida State who like Bey is 6’8” wing. Both NBC Sports and The Bleacher Report, in a mock updated Thursday, have the taking the freshman with a scorer’s mentality. Here’s what Sam Vecenie of The Athletic had to say about Williams’ fit with the Nets.
It took Williams some time during his freshman season, but he eventually came on in a big way. Over his final 10 games, he averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and nearly a block per game. And he did all of that at 18 years old while playing for a top-10 team in the country. He’s 6-foot-8 with darn near a 7-foot wingspan, and his reactivity to what’s happening around him is superb. I don’t know that he’s an elite-level athlete in terms of explosiveness, but he’s a good one whose feel for the game is strong.
The Nets, set at both the ballhandler and the center positions, should be looking to add guys who can play as wings and forwards. Williams only hit 32 percent from 3 this year, but many evaluators do buy him as a jump shooter long-term as he ages and gets better. He’s absolutely raw, and it’ll probably take some time. But there is a legitimately high-level role player in his future for a team that is patient.
Other than that, there’s little consensus at either spot, although there was some about Queens native Precious Achiuwa, a 6’9” power forward out of Memphis.
Here’s a summary of what the draftniks think. In some cases, the mocks are a little older and so the draft order isn’t up to date.
21. Saddiq Bey, 6’8” SF, Villanova sophomore
55. Payton Pritchard, 6’2” PG, Oregon senior
16. Killian Hayes, 6’5” PG, France
55. Paul Eboua 6’7” SF, Italy
21. Saddiq Bey, 6’8” SF, Villanova sophomore
20. Patrick Williams, 6’8” SF, Florida State freshman
55. Kristian Doolittle, 6’7” SF, Oklahoma senior
20. Jaden McDaniels, 6’9” SF/PF, Washington freshman
20. Aleksej Pokuševski 7’0” PF, Serbia via Olympiacos (18 years old)
55. Ochai Agbaji, 6’5” SG, Kansas sophomore
21. Xavier Tillman, 6’8” PF, Michigan State senior
18. Patrick Williams, 6’8” PF, Florida State freshman
20. Nico Mannion, 6’3” PG, Arizona freshman
55. Romeo Weems, 6’7” SF, DePaul freshman
22. Jalen Smith, 6’10” C, Maryland sophomore
55. Markus Howard, 5’11” PG, Marquette senior
18. Aaron Nesmith, 6’6” SG, Vanderbilt sophomore
20. Kira Lewis Jr. 6’3” SG, Alabama sophomore
So who did well last year, despite the changes in June? ESPN and Tankathon were first to project the Nets taking Nicolas Claxton with both mocks accurately calling him at No. 31.