NBA news sites grade the Draft in different ways. Some grade each pick, others just the first round. Some grade team performance. Some just have their reporters talk and talk and talk in panel discussions. It’s all good ... and for the most part, the grades have been good for Brooklyn. However, draftniks and their fellow pundits are divided on the Nets pick of Cam Thomas at No.. 27, with more than one calling him a “steal” but others suggesting he’s too one-dimensional for the NBA ... although they concede that one dimension is buckets-getting.
Nets war room sure seemed happy they got him...
Got our guy. pic.twitter.com/DvWjyCBukn— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 30, 2021
Here in random order are some of the draftniks’ thoughts...
The Nets got a steal in Cameron Thomas. And @KevinOConnorNBA thinks he could become a solid scorer for Brooklyn.— The Ringer (@ringer) July 30, 2021
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There’s some people asking, wait, you have Kyrie Irving and James Harden, why do you need Cameron Thomas? But that’s not the way to think about it. Thomas gives them a player who can play in the same style as those guys, as he’s a big scorer built to score 20 on any given night. This is really smart
This pick was made by Brooklyn after a trade with Phoenix. And it’s a pick for fit. Nobody was better in college basketball at offensive rebounding than Sharpe, so this is a very sensible fit for a team with a ton of scorers.
I was more in on Edwards than just about anyone, so it won’t be a surprise to hear me say this is incredible value for the Nets. I had a first round grade on Edwards because of his positional size and scoring ability. He has all the tools to step in and be a contributor on a Nets team primed to compete for a title next season.
The Nets get one of college basketball’s most electric shot-makers here at 49. Zegarowski makes shots off the catch, off the dribble, sprinting off screens and from any distance on the court. He’s a tad undersized and has just-OK athleticism but is a potent scorer who could be a rotation guard even for a deep team like the Nets.
I had Gray mocked to the Nets 10 picks higher than this, so scoring him at No. 59 is a nice value. He had a high body fat percentage at the combine and needs to trim down a tad, but there’s some toughness and swagger in his game that gives off some PJ Tucker vibes.
This is fairly good value for the Nets after Thomas slipped toward the back of the first round, giving them an extra bucket-getter as they aim to build out their supporting cast. Thomas can be very ball-needy, but he’s a good jump shooter who could conceivably be much more efficient as an auxiliary player, rather than the focal point of a team. The Nets, with an established trio of stars, should be able to lessen his responsibilities in the early going. While Thomas’s style of play isn’t for everyone (including this writer), it’s a good gamble for Brooklyn.
This pick was traded from the Suns to the Nets earlier in the day, in a deal that sent Landry Shamet to Phoenix. This is one of my favorite picks in the first round, as Sharpe is a terrific fit for Brooklyn, and a potentially starting-caliber center in the long run. There was chatter that Sharpe could come off the board a bit earlier than this after a strong predraft process, and the Nets sorely need a rugged, rebounding center in their rotation. Sharpe is also a terrific passer and has some upside shooting the ball, and could help Brooklyn sooner than you think.
A natural scorer, Thomas started getting buckets immediately upon arriving at LSU. He was encouraged to shoot, even though his percentages were not exceptional, because it helped weaken opposing defense.
It will be interesting to see how his game evolves in a situation where he either does not play much or is required to be disciplined in his shot selection. It could force him to become a more tactical player.
His size and quickness proved alluring to the Nets, who will receive this pick in a trade from the Suns. He is not a shooter and not a significant post scorer, but he will rebound, run and work to learn how to defend.
If college were to be a one-year stop for him, it probably would have been a good idea to pick a school that didn’t already have two experienced big men on the roster, which Carolina did. Sharpe played only 19 minutes per game, and it feels like we would know more about his potential if we’d seen more.
Brooklyn adds perhaps the best scorer in the draft as Thomas projects to be a good addition to their second unit. While the Nets have very few holes on their roster, adding a pure scorer is always helpful.
The Nets were said to be highly interested in Sharpe, and they got him after sending Landry Shamet to the Phoenix Suns. They like his toughness and ability to rebound, and he projects to be a good fit with the Nets as a player that can contribute off the bench.
Myron Medcalf: I think the Brooklyn Nets got a steal with Cameron Thomas at No. 27. He averaged 23.0 PPG at LSU, and he’s a pure scorer at any level. Sure, he’ll have to wait his turn on a team with James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. But injuries have hurt this team over the past two seasons, which has opened the door for young players to get opportunities. In that swift, high-scoring offense, Thomas will fit right in.
With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving all extension eligible this summer, so the Nets won’t have much money to play with when it comes to filling out the rotation. Grabbing a second first-round pick via the Shamet trade makes sense when viewed through that lens. And Brooklyn managed to select two rookies who may be able to crack the back end of the rotation this season. Thomas led the SEC in scoring and can fill it up on all three levels; the combination of the NBA spacing and playing alongside Brooklyn’s offensive talents should boost his percentages. As for Sharpe, he’s the best offensive rebounder in this class, runs the floor well and can be effective in pick-and-roll actions. Edwards and Gray have the potential to give the Nets welcome versatility at the forward spots, while Zegarowski faces an even tougher battle for minutes with Harden and Irving in the fold.
Sam Vecenie on Cam Thomas
Where you are on Thomas depends on how good you think he is as a scorer. Because the rest of his game is so poor and he provides very little value in aspects of basketball beyond scoring the ball, Thomas will need to be so good at scoring that he overcomes his weaknesses. And here’s the thing: That threshold for scoring in the NBA is exceptionally high. Having said that, Thomas genuinely might meet it, given that he finished fourth in the country in scoring as a teenager and has all sorts of creativity as a scorer.
John Hollinger on Day’Ron Sharpe
Sharpe had been rumored to be the pick for Brooklyn for a while, which is a bit odd since the Nets A) already have a developmental center in Nic Claxton, and B) often play without a center at all to take advantage of their skillful superstars. I didn’t even have Sharpe as the highest-rated center left, but others were higher on him than me. Still, I think Brooklyn could have looked at a defensive pest like Aaron Henry here, or a shooter like Joe Wieskamp.
Chad Ford Big Board
The Nets acquired an additional first rounder in a deal with the Suns that sent Landry Shamet to Phoenix for the 29th pick and Javon Carter. I loved the Sharpe pick at 29. We had Sharpe mocked to the Nets for weeks, and they were clearly on him early.
He has lost weight, has a great motor and is a great passer for a big man. At North Carolina we didn’t see his jump shot at all, but teams said he shot the lights out at workouts. If that translates to NBA game, he could be really good.
I’m less comfortable with selecting Thomas. He’s one of the best scorers in the draft, but doesn’t really bring anything else to the table, and at 6’3” with limited athleticism, I’m not sure he can do in the NBA what he’s done at LSU.
It will be fascinating to see how the Nets use him, giving the scoring firepower already on the roster. As my friend Rafael Barlowe joked on our broadcast last night, I can’t wait to see Thomas wave off Kevin Durant so he can iso someone.
The second-round picks were solid, though it’s hard to imagine that the Nets can use all of these players. I’m especially enamored of Gray, who could be the Xavier Tillman of this draft.
Analysis: For a team that is looking to contend for championships, it was surprising to see the Nets make five different draft selections. They landed Thomas, who is the second-best pure scorer in this draft class after No. 2 pick Jalen Green, but scoring is far from Brooklyn’s biggest issue. While Thomas gives the Nets’ second unit a shot creator and bucket-getter, it may have been wise to target a versatile defender.
The Nets added some frontcourt depth in Sharpe out of UNC, but he is the definition of an old school big man who clogs the paint and plays with his back to the basket. He’s a great rebounder and shot blocker, but will he fit on a floor alongside any of Brooklyn’s high-octane star trio?
The aforementioned defensive versatility comes in with second-rounders Edwards and Gray, and Zegarowski is a prolific shooter.
At just 19, Thomas was one of the best scorers in the draft. A consistent scorer with an unlimited range, Thomas led the SEC (23.0 points) in scoring this past season. Thomas will need to get better on the defensive end in the future and his shot selection will be an interesting point of conversation (he shot just 32.5 percent from three on 8.5 three point attempts per 40 minutes) but his offensive contributions could be useful for what will likely be a thin Nets roster.
A solid shot creator out of the pick and roll, Thomas will get reps with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all likely having days and games off throughout the season. Adding Thomas allows Brooklyn to find a fill-in for the departed Shamet on a cost-controlled rookie scale deal for four years.
Center was a position of weakness for the Nets last season. Though Nicolas Claxton showed growth, Brooklyn opted to go small often, using Blake Griffin, Jeff Green and Durant at the five in crunch time and the postseason. With DeAndre Jordan’s future murky at best, taking a center in Sharpe made sense. From the University of North Carolina, Sharpe slimmed down during the draft process, losing about 20 pounds.
Sharpe averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes with the Tar Heels. For a Nets team that finished 22nd in offensive rebound rate, Sharpe could help on that end. He led the nation in offensive rebound percentage (18.1 percent). Though he has limitations offensively and some mock drafts had him in the second round, the 6-foot-11 center can eat up some minutes as a developmental project that has great upside.
Edwards provides size as a combo forward for Brooklyn. He shot 39.5 percent from the three-point line over his three years at Pepperdine. A quality athlete, Edwards averaged 1.2 blocks last season for the Waves. Edwards could be an intriguing option on the perimeter and in the paint as a versatile forward. Outside of Durant and Green, Brooklyn lacked true impact defenders that could switch across multiple positions. The 20-year old Edwards could have a huge impact.
The Nets love undersized guards as evidenced by the presence of guards Chris Chiozza and Mike James. They continued their appreciation for small guards with the drafting of 6-foot-2 Zegarowski. An honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, Zegarowski was one of the best shooters in the nation. The guard from Creighton led the Big East with 80 three-pointers made and shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc. The 23-year-old guard can provide spacing and create his own shot, but it remains to be seen what his role would be.
RaiQuan Gray: (Florida State)
Though he’s not in the best shape of anyone in the draft, Gray is one of the more unique players in the draft. A 6-foot-8, 269-pound point forward, Gray nearly shot 56 percent from the field on twos while averaging 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Most of the damage Gray does comes in the paint, so improving his outside shooting will be important if he ever sees the court with Brooklyn’s core players.
New York Post
The Nets may have found some decent bench pieces here, especially in the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Sharpe. Thomas could provide instant offense in small doses, although his defense and jumper may not be up to par to contribute as a rookie.
Thomas is a shoot-first guard who proved he could create his own shot with ease during his freshman year at LSU. A quick and strong offensive gunner at 6’4, Thomas was a high volume shooter who didn’t always score efficiently. He adds more scoring punch off the bench for the Nets, but won’t help the team as a playmaker or defender. If Thomas can hit better than the 32 percent of his threes he connected on during his freshman year, he could be added firepower off the bench, but he’s still a strange fit for a team that already has so many scorers.
Sharpe starred at Montverde Academy with Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Moses Moody before an up-and-down freshman year at UNC. He has nice size for a big man at 6’11, 265 pounds and put up huge rebounding numbers with the Tar Heels. Sharpe led the country in offensive rebound percentage and also hit the defensive glass hard. He didn’t score efficiently with 52 percent true shooting and lacks mobility on the perimeter. He’s a safe pick who could have a long career, but there were higher upside options on the board.
This is a fascinating choice. Thomas is a perfectly fine value at No. 27 overall. He may even be under-drafted, depending on who you ask. The landing spot makes it interesting, though, in that the primary value of Thomas is in his scoring. In fact, that’s really his only established trait right now when you factor in his tough shot-making and easy range. The Nets don’t really “need” that aspect given their firepower, so it’s essentially a best player available bet on talent.
The Nets were rumored to be interested in Sharpe throughout the process, and this isn’t a surprise. He plays very, very hard and is an exceptional rebounder that doesn’t need the ball. That will fit in well with Brooklyn, but there are questions about his touch and lack of overall length and burst. Value-wise, this is totally fine, and it could perhaps signal (even further than already assumed) that the Nets could move on from De’Andre Jordan in favor of Nic Claxton, small-ball options and Sharpe as a developmental piece.
So there you have it. Does it matter? To fans, sure, but to the professional scout and development specialist probably not. Indeed, Sean Marks said he was “ecstatic.” Good enough.