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DRAFT WATCH #1 - Four picks ... if they keep them

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2019 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets have no fans! Wrong, as nearly 30,000 of the faithful showed up at Barclays for Game 1 and 2 of the playoffs despite changing COVID rules. And they were very, very loud.

The Nets have no Draft picks! Wrong again. Despite giving up a haul for James Harden, the Nets currently have four picks in 2021, third in the NBA after the Thunder and Pelicans who have five. The Pistons and Knicks also have four each. Admittedly, each those teams’ top pick is higher than the Nets, who have the 27th pick in the first. However, the four picks, at Nos. 27, 44, 49 and 59, are the most Sean Marks has ever had to work with and Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Nic Claxton were all taken after No. 20.

Of course, Marks has also traded away three first rounders in the last two years, two in 2019 to add cap space and another in 2020 to add Bruce Brown and Landry Shamet to help with the title run. So, although we feel a little burned by the experience, we’re back with our first Draft Watch of 2021.

With so many big stars and big contracts — not to mention big ambitions —the Nets draft strategy this year may lean toward filling gaps rather than going for the BPA, best player available. However, as the picks go deeper, raw talent, regardless of position, becomes more important.

The Nets will have roster spots to fill. The front office has nine big decisions to make this summer. That’s how many players could be free agents, restricted and unrestricted, when the off-season officially opens on August 4. Another player has a non-guaranteed deal.

In looking at the Draft, one would think the Nets would like to bolster their bigs, particularly since Jeff Green, Blake Griffin and Jeff Perry are so far unsigned for next season. Also, they could probably use some back-ups at the point, depending on what happens with Mike James, Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson. Spencer Dinwiddie has almost certainly played last game for Brooklyn.

Draftniks seem to agree. Many of the popular mock drafts have Brooklyn going for a big man and/or guards. Here’s their thinking about whose names the Nets will call on Thursday, July 29.

ESPN

27. Marcus Bagley, 6’8” small forward, Arizona State, freshman

44. Ariel Hukporti, 7’0” center, Germany, 19 years old

49. Johnny Juzang, 6’6” shooting guard, UCLA, sophomore

59. Daishen Nix, 6’5” guard, Team Ignite, 19 years old

NBADraft.net

27. Cameron James, 6’4” shooting guard, LSU, freshman

44. Herbert Jones, 6’8” small forward, Alabama, senior

49. Matthew Hurt, 6’9” small forward, Duke, sophomore

59. Feron Hunt, 6’8” forward, SMU, junior

The Athletic

27. Day’Ron Sharpe, 6’11” center, North Carolina, freshman

44. Matthew Hurt, 6’9” small forward, Duke, sophomore

49. Moses Wright, 6’9” 22 years old, Georgia Tech, senior

59. Ariel Hukporti, 7’0” center, Germany, 19 years old

Sports Illustrated

27. Cameron James, 6’4” shooting guard, LSU, freshman

44. Filip Petrusev, 6’11” center, Serbia via Gonzaga, 21 years old

49. Ochai Agbaji, 6’5” shooting guard, Kansas, junior

59. Austin Reaves, 6’5” PG/SG, Oklahoma, senior

Tankathon

27. Neemias Queta, 7’1” center, Utah State, junior

44. Scottie Lewis, 6’5” wing, Florida, sophomore

49. McKinley Wright IV, 6’0” point guard, Colorado, senior

59. Isaiah Todd, 6’10” power forward, Team Ignite, 19 years old

Chad Ford Big Board

27. Isaiah Todd, 6’10” power forward, Team Ignite, 19 years old

The Ringer NBA

27. Usman Garuba, 6’9” power forward, Spain, 19 years old

Bleacher Report

27. Ayo Dosunmu, 6’5” point guard, Illinois, junior

Yahoo! Sports

27. Quentin Grimes, 6’5” shooting guard, Houston, junior

NBC Sports

27. David Johnson, 6’5” combo guard, Louisville, sophomore

Sporting News

27. Daishen Nix, 6’5” guard, Team Ignite, 19 years old

As you can see, no real pattern in terms of who the draftniks think the Nets like. Cameron Jones, the LSU guard; Matthew Hurt, the Duke wing: Ariel Hukpurti, the German-Togolese 7-footer; and two members of the G League’s Team Ignite, Daishen Nix, a big point guard, and Isaiah Todd, a power forward are named by two of the 10 mocks (which is likely to mean nothing.) In last year’s final Draft Watch, there was a consensus that the Nets would take R.J. Hampton, the speedy wing who ultimately wound up in Orlando. They didn’t.

The 2021 Draft is expected to be a good one, particularly in the first round. But what might the Nets do with those three second rounders? They might use them to sweeten a trade; move up in the first; trade them forward to 2023 when they don’t have a second; try to get a college player to accept a two-way deal or a direct assignment to Long Island (like Jaylen Hands did) or simply use a pick or two to take an international player and stash him.

No word yet on whether the Draft will be virtual like it was last year or move back into the friendly confines of Barclays Center where it took place from 2013 through 2019. In fact, other than last year, the Nets have hosted the Draft either at Barclays or Prudential Center since 2011.