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NBA Draft 2022: Despite lack of picks, Nets continue to work out prospects

Vanderbilt v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Nets decided 10 days back that they would defer using the 76ers first round pick they acquired the trade deadline blockbuster until 2023, leaving them with no first round picks. The Rockets hold their pick from the first James Harden trade. Also, they don’t have a second rounder in this Draft, their pick currently held by the Pistons. And finally, they don’t have cash considerations to buy a pick, having sent that to Detroit as well in the DeAndre Jordan salary dump.

[Who’s going first? Check out the latest NBA Draft Odds]

So, is HSS Training Center devoid of the sound of squeaking sneakers and the smell of sweat? Nope. The Nets are continuing to work out draft prospects, apparently based on that old adage, “ya never know.” Or maybe we should say, “we never know” because unlike Rod Thorn and Billy King, Sean Marks keeps things quiet. Still, names keep popping up in social media. In one 24 hour period last week, there were reports of 12 prospects who were in during that week, including Kofi Cockburn, the 7’1” consensus All-American at center; Paul Atkinson Jr., who was the Ivy League Player of the Year at Yale as a power forward in 2020; JD Notae, third team All-American point guard at Arkansas last season and the sons of Scotty Pippin, the Hall of Famer, and Omar Minaya, the former Mets GM. All told, we count 41 prospects who’ve worked out in Sunset Park.

All that said, here’s the list of players the Nets have worked out per reports, with their vitals, position and place on the latest ESPN Big Board, their top 100. Those players who worked out but decided to return to school are marked with an asterisk.

So far, we count 43, probably around half the number the Nets brought in.

LOTTERY:

Malaki Branham, 6’5” SG, Ohio State freshman (13)

FIRST ROUND:

Tari Evans, 6’8” PF, LSU sophomore (18)

Terquavian Smith, 6’4” SG, North Carolina State freshman (*)

Bryce McGowens, 6’7” SG, Nebraska freshman (29)

SECOND ROUND:

Josh Minott, 6’8” PF/SF, Memphis freshman (47)

Michael Foster Jr., 6’8” PF, G League Ignite 19 years old (50)

Dereon Seabron, 6’7” PF, North Carolina State sophomore (55)

Ron Harper Jr, 6’5” SF, Rutgers senior (57)

UNDRAFTED, BUT TOP 100:

Keon Ellis, 6’8” SG, Alabama senior (62)

Collin Gillespie, 6’3” SG, Villanova senior (64)

Kofi Cockburn, 7’1” C. Illinois junior (67)

Scotty Pippen Jr., 6’3” SG, Vanderbilt junior (69)

John Butler Jr., 7’1” PF, Florida State sophomore (70)

Julian Champagnie, 6’8” PF, St. John’s junior (71)

Aminu Mohammed, 6’5” PG, Georgetown freshman (75)

Gabe Brown, 6’8” SF, Michigan State junior (80)

Jared Rhoden, 6’6” SG, Seton Hall senior (84)

Iverson Molinar, 6’3” SG, Mississippi State junior (86)

Jalen Wilson, 6’8” SF, Kansas sophomore (*)

Hyunjon Lee, 6’7” SG, Davidson junior (92)

Trevor Hudgins, 6’0” PG, Northwest Missouri State senior (93)

Izaiah Brockington, 6’4” SG, Iowa State senior (95)

UNDRAFTED, NOT RANKED:

Buddy Boeheim, 6’6” SG, Syracuse senior

Au’diese Toney, 6’6” SF, Arkansas senior

Justin Bean, 6’7” PF, Utah State senior

Malachi Smith, 6’4” SG, Chattanooga sophomore (*)

Brad Davison, 6’4” SF, Wisconsin senior

Trace Jackson-Davis, 6’9” F, Indiana sophomore (*)

Caleb McConell, 6’7” SF, Rutgers senior (*)

Paul Atkinson, 6’9” PF, Notre Dame/Yale senior

Kyler Edwards, 6’4” SG, Houston senior

Adrian Delph, 6’3” SG, Appalachian State senior

Lester Quinones, 6’5” SG, Memphis junior

JD Notae, 6’2” PG, Arkansas senior

Chuba Ohams, 6’9” PF, Fordham senior

Davion Warren, 6’6” SG, Texas Tech senior

Davion Mintz, 6’3” SG, Kentucky senior

Marcus Bingham Jr. 7’0” PF, Michigan State senior

Justin Minaya, 6’7” SF, Providence senior

Tyson Jolly, 6’4” SG, Iona senior

Justyn Mutts, 6’7” SF, Virginia Tech/High Point senior

Jermaine Samuels, 6’7” SF, Villanova senior

George Papas, 6’4” SF, Monmouth senior

So what can we tell from what we know — based on previous years’ tracking, we’ve probably found about half the Nets workout list? First, the Nets are working out a lot of players who will likely go undrafted and be signed to Summer League deals. Of the 43, 36 aren’t projected to be taken in either round, per ESPN. Of those, roughly half didn’t even make the ESPN Big Board.

More importantly, based on our sample, the Nets are looking at shooters, shooters, shooters. Of the 43 we’ve found, 29 are either shooting guards or small forwards, including the top prospect we could find, Malaki Branham, the 6’5” shooting guard out of Ohio State. Bigs do not seem a priority. Only nine players in our sample project as NBA power forwards and one as a center. There are four point guard prospects.

The Nets have also worked out a number of local prospects from Seton Hall, Rutgers, Iona, Fordham and Monmouth.

Also, Some of the players who did come in for workouts decided to return to school, led by Terquavian “Baby T” Smith, who was projected as a late first rounder before he headed back to NC State. (The Nets will basically work out whoever accepts their invitation to come in but agents are not likely to waste a trip to Brooklyn if there’s little to no chance their client will get picked.)

If you wondering what team might be willing to give up excess picks, there are 12 teams with three or more picks in the Draft, including three with four picks: The Thunder with the Nos. 2, 12, 30 and 34 picks; the Spurs with Nos. 9, 20, 25 and 38 and the Timberwolves, with the Nos. 19, 40, 48 and 50.

Getting deeper in the weeds...

Bottom line: why go through all this effort when on June 23, they could presumably come away with zip, nada? The organization will have had a good look at a lot of players who may wind up on one of their rosters — Summer League, G League — going forward. After all, the Nets had four players on some sort of rookie deal last year to fill out the roster, fill in for injured and otherwise unavailable players (and save some money).

Then, there’s the database. The Nets have a proprietary database that tracks players from college through the Draft into the pros. They have scouting reports, video clips, interview summaries and character profiles which can become valuable when the prospects becomes a player. Nets personnel can dip into the database to get background information and chart how much the player has developed since they were in college. The personnel may change, but the database lives forever.

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