The Nets did good in the 2021 NBA Draft taking Cam Thomas, the Summer League’s co-MVP and leading scorer, at No. 27 and Day’Ron Sharpe, the leading offensive rebounder among rookies, two spots later.
So, the picks look better three weeks after the Draft than they did that night ... and that’s always a good sign. How’d they wind up Brooklyn? What was the process like? In an interview with the two 19-year-olds, Boardroom’s Shlomo Sprung asked about that as well as how much they’re looking forward to the NBA season and playing with some of their idols.
First things first: the two look at themselves as steals of the Draft. Can’t blame them!
“I think they got two steals in the draft,” Sharpe said of his new team. “They got an all-out scorer, and then they got a hard, hustling big guy who will anchor the paint and play hard, grab rebounds.
“I think we go well together, feed off each other. I’m gonna set screens, he’s gonna shoot, or he’ll shoot, I’ll get the rebound, throw it back to him so he could shoot it again. I feel like we’re a good tandem.”
“They didn’t really expect me there at No. 27,” said Thomas. “It was just a steal, honestly.”
Indeed, the Nets had both on their radar early. In Sharpe’s case, since middle school!
“My agent was telling me, ‘The Nets, they love you. We could get a workout there.’ So I worked out for them, I showed them I could shoot. They already knew I could rebound, because one of the scouts, B.J. [Johnson], he’s been watching me since middle school and I didn’t even know that!” said Sharpe of the Nets Director of Player Evaluation — and the scout who pushed Nicolas Claxton in 2019. “He liked my game, so they brought me in, had good interviews. So we were a good fit.”
Their pursuit of Thomas was a little less dramatic, maybe because most mock drafts had him gone by as early as the late teens and only two of the 15 mocks we track had him falling around where the Nets picked. In fact, he had been invited to the Draft Green Room, that area of the floor at Barclays Center where top picks await word from Adam Silver.
“My first workout for them was a private workout. It worked out really well, and they kept in contact with my agent,” said Thomas. “And then I had a late, late interview like a day or two before the draft. I felt like the fit was there, but they didn’t really expect me there at No. 27.”
But he was and the Nets who had him a lot higher pounced.
Both players said they’re more than happy to have been chosen by Brooklyn, in part because of the superstars they’ll be working out with.
“I know, right? It’s crazy,” Thomas told Sprung. “Even before I got to the league, I was like, ‘I wanna play with James Harden’ when he was in Houston because he was playing with the ball in his hands and getting all these assists, catch-and-shoot threes for all the guys. To be able to actually play with him in Brooklyn now, I can’t wait.”
“I never thought I was gonna play with KD, Kyrie, and Harden at the same time,” added Sharpe. “But I don’t really think about it, for real. I’m just going day by day. So when I see them and it happens, it happens.”
Neither have had much if any contact with their new teammates. Sharpe said he DM’d KD. “I was like ‘let’s go get this ring.’ And he was like, ‘for sure!”
Thomas noted that Bruce Brown, DeAndre Jordan, Jevon Carter, Nic Claxton all showed up in Las Vegas to cheer them on, adding, “It was big for them to come out to watch us and be there.”
In the meantime, the two have hooked with Nets assistant coaches, Thomas with Ryan Forehan-Kelly; Sharpe with Tiago Splitter.
And the interview wouldn’t have been complete without Thomas talking about his big moment, the game-winner vs. the WIzards a week ago. What separates him when the moment arrives, Sprung asked.
“I feel like my confidence makes me different because I’m not afraid to take any shot, plus I know my teammates have confidence in me to hit those shots because they know my skill set and my ability on the court to put the ball in the hoop,” Thomas said. “My confidence really separates me to make those kinds of plays.”
What lies ahead for the two, who turn 20 this fall? We’ll know soon enough, but what fans know already about them already has to get them excited.
- Boardroom Q&A With Nets Rookies Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe - Shlomo Sprung - Boardroom