Despite taking on a daunting rebuilding task, Sean Marks is set to make the highest draft pick of his tenure as Brooklyn Nets GM ... unless he trades it like he did with the 27th pick last June.
We don’t precisely know where the Nets are going to pick. If the regular season resumes at some point, Brooklyn could rise or fall depending on how the 76ers do, but the range will likely be in the 18-and-22 range. If the league goes directly to the playoffs, as is likely, the pick will be No. 20. (The Nets traded a first rounder to the Clippers last year and received the No. 56 in the 2019 draft and the 76ers first rounder in this Draft.)
With a roster built for stability rather than flexibility, Marks doesn’t need to swing for the fences and draft the best player available, which has been his tendency.
For starters (pun intended), Brooklyn has a roster that’s defined by its two stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and its championship aspirations. While we haven’t seen the duo take the floor together yet — and the Nets don’t have a new coach yet — we can theorize what Sean Marks wants in a pick. After taking a look at stretch 4 prospect Patrick Williams, we’ll tackle another position of need for the organization heading into the 2020 Draft: small forward.
It’s unclear where Durant is going to play most of his minutes. With the Warriors, he was mainly a power forward, but in his prior stint with the Thunder, he played alongside a more bruising team that had him slotted at small forward. (In his first year, in Seattle, P.J. Carlesimo tried him out at the 2! It got P.J. fired.)
Based on the Nets roster construction, I can see Durant logging more time at the 4, but with no clarity on the next coach, I’m taking nothing more than an educated guess. Taurean Prince should be able to log more minutes at his more natural position at the 3 in 2020-2021.
On top of that, the Nets were able to bring on Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot mid-season to help shore up some depth, but beyond that, the Nets don’t have a deep stable of wings. This season, with injuries etc., the Nets have been grasping at straws. Rodions Kurucs fancies himself as more of a 4 while Dzanan Musa may not have the strength or foot speed to stay with athletic wings.
While the story of the 2020 Draft is the lack of star power at the top, the middle presents some intriguing options for a team like Brooklyn to take a chance on in hopes of hitting and developing a niche fit for their roster. Brooklyn is flush with ball handlers who can beat their man off the dribble and get to the rim on offense. On defense, the Nets pride themselves on protecting the rim and running players off the three-point line but the roster isn’t loaded with defensive stoppers at the moment.
Brooklyn can use another player who can attack closeouts and also use his length and defensive prowess to make life difficult on the other end. Enter today’s subject, Josh Green.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Green is either 6’5” or 6’6” depending on which source you look at with a 6’10” wingspan. At Arizona, he had a defined role as he was a catch-and-shoot threat without having to do much creation on his own. On defense, Green flashed quick hips and the ability to stay in front of his man but also great awareness on the weak side to generate deflections or challenge shots at the rim.
Green doesn’t have much of a handle to break his defender down. His go-to move is an in-and-out but he doesn’t get much burst off of it. Rather, he is more successful at using his strength to barrel towards the rim but sometimes finds himself out of control.
Where he is best is attacking off the catch and bursting towards the rim. He shot 64 percent at the rim this season per Bart Tovirk, with 56 percent of those being assisted. A quick first step is big for Green who did not do as well in tight quarters, which will get to in a bit.
Playing alongside a primary ball handler in Nico Mannion, Green was not asked to initiate much for Zona, but he was able to show sound instincts as a passer. He has good court sense, swinging the ball to the open man when applicable and made strong passes in transition. He is most certainly a willing passer and plays within his role, especially for someone who can’t create on his own. It is nice to see him able to read warped defenses and make some challenging passes.
One issue for Green is that he’s incredibly right-handed dominant. The Aussie’s Derek Zoolander level commitment to his right leaves us with the ability to count on our fingers how many times he finished with the left this past season at Arizona. He isn’t afraid to drive left but is consistently reverting back to his right hand.
That’s an issue that will have to get ironed out at the next level simply because he lacks diversity in his shot selection in close. He has a fine touch on floaters further from the rim and sports a strong 78 percent free throw percentage, but without a semi-reliable left hand, Green is that much easier to cover. Defenders in the league will sit on those types of shots until Green proves he can beat you with his weak hand.
On the offensive end, Green’s ability to stick is going to be determined on whether his 3-point shot turns into a threat or not. His shot is a tale of two bodies. If you look at Green’s top half, he has a quick and compact release with a high release point, just looking at that you’d be fairly optimistic about his outlook.
However, as we know, we have to look at the whole picture and the lower body leaves me with questions. Green’s does project to be a solid catch-and-shoot threat, but his knees do bend inwards, likely a product of knock knee. As you can see in the video below, both knees bend in towards each other with the feet bending out wide. This can lead to injury troubles down the road if not tended. It’s not a deal breaker, more something to keep an eye on.
This does happen to athletes and can be worked through in training. In addition to this, a lot of Green’s misses are left short, meaning his explosion may be stymied by his lack of burst generated in the knees.
Moving closer to the hoop Green doesn’t really explode up and finish which may be due to his need for a longer load time to get up. He has solid touch, but also doesn’t explode up in traffic like you’d think a player with his build would.
Green did shoot 36 percent from beyond the arc on nearly three attempts per game, basically all of which were assisted. So, I do think there is a path for him to be a catch-and-shoot threat, but he is going to need to figure out his lower body in order to unlock it.
On the other end of the floor, Green can check perimeter players with his solid length and an aggressive mentality on the floor. On ball, Green does a fine job of staying in his stance and flipping his hips quickly.
He has a pro body with a big chest and long arms. He was rarely knocked off his spot at Arizona and it’s likely his on-ball strength will translate to the pro game quickly. This possession is a little bit of everything. He showcases nice on ball defense and finishes the possession off with a strong recovery to get to the spot and challenge the shot.
Off-ball, Green shows sound instincts. This is probably my favorite part of his defensive game. He is always digging at penetration off-ball and while sometimes he gets sucked in a bit too much, leaving him susceptible to losing his man, he is generating deflections off-ball or stopping the drive. His energy is apparent on this end of the floor as he is always trying to make a play at all three levels.
In addition to his willingness to get his hands dirty off the ball, he rotates over and protects the rim nicely as well. He may not be a shot blocker, but by sticking in the play, Green has blown up transition opportunities and has turned easy layup opportunities into misses which is as good as a block.
His aggressiveness can sometimes hurt him. He will sometimes closes too hard and gets caught on his heels, picking up cheap fouls in the process. Green picked up more than three fouls per 40 minutes in his lone season in Tucson, not an overly concerning number, but with the speed increase in the NBA, he may have some growing pains here. In addition, Green is prone to leaving his feet at times which is sure to send his opponent to the line. He’ll play great defense, force a bad look, but bail the opponent out by leaving his feet. This happened more than once...
Green can switch down to guards but I’m not sure how he’ll fare with more bruising forwards and centers. In small flashes, Green struggled with stronger bigs down low, trying to front a few times and was not able to challenge the entry pass and ensuing shot. I’m also not sure his wingspan would be able to disrupt shot attempts, but out on the perimeter he should be able to stifle the initial move if the big ventures out there and Green is switched on.
In line with his aggressive mentality, Green is a willing rebounder, not afraid to play down low and fight for loose balls — sacrifice his body while making others sacrifice theirs. About a third of his rebounds last season came on the offensive glass. For a Nets team that ranked top five in offensive rebounding this season, adding a wing who has a nose for the ball can’t hurt
We are not talking about the cleanest prospect in Green: his shot is not a finished product yet and he has no trust in his left hand. However, the Nets are looking to fill a bench role and not a world beater. With the Arizona product, the Nets can fill a need while also acquiring a player that is capable of feasting on tilted defenses due to the team’s litany of ball handlers.
Green’s range seems to be late lottery through the 20’s, which seems to be the case for many prospects in this year’s draft. The pre-draft process has been filled with questions about how the pre-draft process will be conducted and whether the prospects are as mediocre as advertised. And not all teams have the scouting database the Nets have. As Sean Marks has said, losing March Madness hurt from a scouting perspective, but if you’ve been diligent over the past couple of years, you can compensate. All that is likely to mean a wide range for a lot of prospects.
Picking in the mid-first round, the Nets, who could trade out of the pick making this whole exercise for naught, are in a position where they can take a shot on a potential versatile wing threat in Green.