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Nothing if not thorough: a look at Nets pre-draft process and who’s been working out

2021 NBA G League Elite Camp Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets are well-known for working out dozens of prospects before the Draft. Although they keep the names and schedules secret, it doesn’t take much to crack the code. Agents’ and players’ tweets and other intelligence show up on social media all the time. Indeed, we’ve tracked the number of prospects over the years and found that annually, they’ll see 60 or more college and international players at the HSS Training Center!

This year is no different. Based on what’s out there on social media, the Nets are again grinding it out, mostly in group settings. They’re nothing if not thorough. Indeed, the Nets, we are told, have already worked out both the Draft’s youngest and oldest prospects.

Of course this year, with four picks in Thursday’s 2021 NBA draft — Nos. 27, 44, 49, and 59 — the Nets have a lot of options, more than at any point in Sean Marks’ five years. After earlier suggesting the Nets could trade the first-rounder, draftniks like Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Bobby Marks of ESPN now believe that barring some last-minute trade offer, Brooklyn will likely keep the pick.

In fact, the pace of the workouts might be increasing as the Draft gets closer. NetsDaily has learned that the scouting department has worked out a number of college players recently.

According to a variety of sources, here are some of the most recent prospects to endure the four-hour process on the eighth floor of 168 39th Street in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. It’s a mixed bag of young and old, projected first and second-rounders as well as those likely to go undrafted.

Josh Primo, 6’6” shooting guard from Alabama;

J.T. Thor, 6’10” power forward out of Auburn;

Austin Reaves, 6’5” shooting guard out of Oklahoma;

Mac McClung, 6’2” point guard out of Texas Tech;

Jalen Tate, 6’6” swingman out of Arkansas;

Matt Coleman, 6’2 point guard out of Texas;

Yves Pons, 6’6” forward out of Tennessee;

Eugene Omoruyi, 6’6” power forward out of Oregon;

Scottie Lewis, 6’5” shooting guard out of Florida;

Matthew Hurt, 6’9” swingman out of Duke.

Primo is the youngest prospect in the Draft at 18 while Eugene Omoruyi is the oldest at 24, the same age as Bruce Brown and Landry Shamet. Of the group, only Primo (No. 26), Thor (No. 33) and Reaves (No. 45) are projected to be picked anywhere in the Draft, at least according to ESPN’s latest mock. The others are more than likely going undrafted.

Primo and Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky’s shot-blocking big, are also the two highest mocked prospects known to have worked out for the Nets. In fact, both seem too rich for the Nets’ blood, meaning they’ll be gone when the Nets number is called.

That doesn’t mean they don’t want to play with the “Big Three.” Here’s what Jackson said Friday about his workout. Safe to say he was excited.

“Everybody from the front office was there, but I met with Steve Nash,” said Jackson. “We talked, I had a great workout too, so it was a plus.

“The feedback there was good. I think they really want me. I feel like I can bring it all, especially in the playoffs where they had KD playing the 5. I feel like I could fit that role, just put KD at the 4 and let him do his thing. And I feel like some of the older guys like Blake Griffin, I could fill that role too as well just helping him, keeping him from not having to play as many minutes as he’s been playing.”

Scottie Lewis, a New Jersey native, showed his enthusiasm in a Instagram post following the post-workout.

But why be so thorough? Why work out SIXTY prospects even when you have four picks? For a number of reasons. The NBA’s new two-way rules basically add two players to NBA rosters. The Nets also have to fill out the Long Island Nets roster both with development projects and end-of-the-bench players.

Moreover, they keep all the scouting data, all those workout reports and a lot more in a proprietary database. For future use. Indeed, the Nets’ database contains all manner of information: biographical data; video clips of players’ college or international games; scouting reports and reports of interviews with the prospect, his coaches, others close to him; news clips; what other teams looked at him and even, if necessary, negative information like arrest reports.

So if they — or Long Island — need a replacement, want to take a chance, they can scan the database, cutting down the time needed to find a player. And in some cases, the Nets will interview players who will be taken a lot higher than where they pick should a trade opportunity materialize down the road. (One reason Sean Marks felt so comfortable taking D’Angelo Russell back in 2017 — after the Lakers had given up on him — was that as a Spurs assistant GM, he had interviewed DLo back before the 2015 Draft.)

So, all that said, let’s take a look at some of the prospects who have worked out recently.

McClung is a 6’2,” 185-pound junior point guard from Texas Tech, who transferred to become a Red Raider after two seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas. McClung has reportedly worked out with the Charlotte Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Indiana Pacers, just to name a few.

If the name Mac McClung sounds familiar, it should. The 21-year-old was a bit of a Hoop Mixtape legend as a high school hooper, and since then he’s modified his game to become a more well-rounded prospect. He had himself his best college season to date as a junior at Texas Tech, putting up 15.5 points on a career-high 41.9 percent field goal percentage and a career-best 34.4 percent from three.

His game could best be described as a tough shot maker. You’ll notice it in the clips below, but McClung has a quick first step that he pairs with a pull-up jumper with nice elevation to counter defenders. He’s become much better at leveraging his athleticism to his advantage over his college career, keeping the defense honest with his improved jumper, and parlaying those jumpers into shots at the cup.

Matt Coleman III, meanwhile, is a 6’2,” 180-pound senior guard from Kevin Durant’s alma mater, the University of Texas. The former 5-star recruit reportedly had workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Sacramento Kings, the Denver Nuggets, the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers, the Boston Celtics, amognst others.

Much like McClung, Coleman is a story of improvement. He’s always been a heady player as a facilitator (4.0 assists in his senior season) and defender (1.2 steals in his senior season), but he’s taken massive strides as a floor spacer over his four-year college career. As a freshman, he shot 28.5 percent from deep. By his senior season, that number ballooned all the way to 37.7 percent on a lot of tough pull-ups. Give him a runway in transition and he’ll exhibit some serious burst to put himself out of arm’s reach for shots at the cup. Experts describe Coleman as “NBA ready.”

Jalen Tate, the younger brother of Houston Rockets F Jay’Sean Tate, is a 6’6,” 175-pound guard from the University of Arkansas. He has reportedly worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Denver Nuggets to name a few.

Obviously, at 6’6” at the guard position, he has a built-size advantage over his defenders. He uses that edge in height to bulldoze and bully smaller guards in the post, lofting high arcing floaters and baby hooks over the arms of defenders.

The 2021 NBA Draft will air at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC and NBA TV for the first round, and ESPN for the second round. How many of the four picks will the Nets keep? Who will they take and how many of those picks will wind up in a Nets uniform? In 2018, picked Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, both of whom were traded this past year. But they also worked out Theo Pinson and Yuta Watanabe who they signed to summer league deals right after they went undrafted ... and they also worked out Alize Johnson. The database no doubt came in handy.