In its final mock draft, ESPN reports that the Nets are “especially high” on Noah Clowney, Alabama’s 6’10” big, adding that the team may even move up if necessary to get him at No. 21.
While ESPN draftniks Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo reiterate that the Nets are “extremely active” in trying to trade up, they say Brooklyn likes Clowney if they stay at No. 21.
Clowney was the 21st player to receive an invite to the NBA draft’s green room, a positive sign for his standing Thursday. The Nets are said to be extremely active in trade conversations, having the option of using one or both of their first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 22) with players such as Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale to get to different spots in the draft if they desire. Clowney is said to be a prospect they are especially high on, potentially even exploring the option of moving up to get him on draft night.
Clowney can play both big positions who NBADraft.net’s Jorrye Nixon called “sleek and mobile” and “what teams look for in modern day bigs/frontcourt guys and has the frame to add significant mass.”
At No. 22, ESPN believes that Nick Smith, the 6’4” Arkansas combo guard, may get the Nets nod. Wrote Woo:
At this point, it’s not quite clear exactly where the floor is for Smith, whose first serious landing spot seems to be the Lakers at No. 17, a team that could go several different directions with its pick. His creative on-ball chops and strong reputation coming out of high school has kept his name in all these conversations, but a difficult, injury-plagued freshman season at Arkansas ultimately made it difficult for him to build a ton of momentum. Many teams in this part of the draft are looking for more experienced, NBA-ready help, but the Nets are in position to take a long view with one or both of these picks, depending whether they move them. Brooklyn could make sense as a potential backstop.
In the NBADraft.net analysis, also by Nixon, Smith was described as “a 6’5 185 lb combo guard prospect with very good length and nice athleticism for the NBA level … Really quick and speedy, and has the frame to add muscle …”
At No. 51, ESPN has consistently mocked Florida center Colin Castleton who averaged 3.0 blocks per game for the Gators.
- 2023 NBA mock draft: Latest predictions for all 58 picks - Jonathan Givony & Jeremy Woo - ESPN+