The Brooklyn Nets' Nightmare Continues
The Boston Celtics had a lot to celebrate in the month of May.
One day after beating the Washington Wizards and progressing to the Eastern Conference Finals, the ping pong balls fell in their favor as the Celtics won the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
How did the Celtics, who finished with the number 1 seed in the Eastern conference, even have a shot at winning the draft lottery? Well, that was thanks to an infamous trade between the Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets back in 2013.
Instead of giving myself an aneurysm cursing out Billy King, let’s just focus on how the Nets can rectify the issue in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft.
The Nets did a great job this season of making small trades that have given them options in this year’s draft. Had the Pacers missed the playoffs, the Nets would have been given their second round pick. Instead, they will have to make do with their two first round picks, the 22nd and 27th picked up from trades with Washington and Boston respectively.
The Nets have little to lose and everything to gain in this year’s draft. They need more talent and they don’t have a first round pick next year, so they’ll have to be creative and make this draft work for them. High risk, high reward players are what the Nets need to key in on here.
So, without further ado, here are the five guys that the Nets should keep on their radar despite the risks that come with them.
SF - Justin Jackson, UNC
A top recruit coming out of high school, Jackson didn’t live up to the hype until his third year. It could be that he was simply a late bloomer, but there is also a chance that he flops in the pros and scouts are generally wary of college players that develop slowly.
Jackson shot much better from beyond the arc this year, connecting on 37% from behind the three-point line this year. If Jackson is truly blossoming into the player that scouts thought he could become, the Nets could get a potential star with the requisite athleticism and three-point shooting that fits the current NBA very well.
SF - OG Anunoby, Indiana
Anunoby is coming off a knee injury, and right now lacks a great offensive game. His shot definitely needs to improve, and knee injuries coming into the draft are always a red flag.
Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson is a player development coach by trade, and if he can help Anunoby develop a serviceable offensive game, the Nets will have a great wing defender to add alongside Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Anunoby could potentially be even better than Jefferson due to his size and strength (Jefferson is 6’7, 214 lbs., while Anunoby is 6’8, 235 lbs.), making him even more equipped to handle the small forward position. If he can stay healthy and develop a reliable jump shot, Anunoby has the potential to develop into a solid 3-and-D wing player.
PF - Ivan Rabb, California
At the moment, Rabb is too “light in the booty” as some scouts would say. At 220 lbs. his weight will hurt him on the defensive, where bigger players can push him around. Ivan’s also not a great athlete, and doesn’t have great leaping ability and since Rabb likes to score on the interior, his lack of strength and explosiveness will hurt him in the NBA.
Rabb is only 20 years old and still has plenty of time to get bigger and stronger. Rabb also has a nice mid-range jump shot that he’s trying to expand out to the three-point line. If he can become a knock down shooter, and is able to keep a defender guessing, it will be easier to find ways to score. Rabb also has a great basketball IQ and has a reputation as an extremely hard worker. With the right coaching, Rabb can become a very good stretch 4, playing next to Brook Lopez, giving the Nets another front court scorer, something the team desperately needs right now.
C - Tony Bradly, UNC
Bradly didn’t play much during his one year stint at Chapel Hill. The Heels had a lot of big men on the team and with upperclassmen like Kennedy Meeks, there just wasn’t enough minutes for Bradly to make an impact. He also didn’t take part in the NBA Combine, and scouts thought he was a little out of shape. In a regular draft class, Bradly might be taken early on potential alone, but this year, a lot of teams will look past him and focus on prospects that they have more tape on.
Bradly is very athletic and there are still some scouts that think he’s a top ten talent. Again, if this was any other year, Bradly is still a lottery pick. Lopez will still be your starting center next year no matter who the Nets draft, which would give Bradly time to develop coming off the bench, and the Nets do need a better backup center.
PF - Harry Giles, Duke
The only reason why Giles could be sitting there in the mid-20s, when the Nets pick, are those knees. Giles has already had three knee surgeries and barely played during his one year at Duke. Scouts are keeping their fingers crossed that it is due to him not being fully healthy. With that being said, there are going to be a few teams that pass on Giles fearing that he may never reach his potential due to those knees.
Giles was likely going to be the clear cut favorite to be selected first in the draft before the knee issues became a factor. In a regular draft year, Giles would still be a top five pick off of his potential alone. If the Nets like what they hear from the doctors, I know they won’t hesitate to take Giles if he is available.
The Nets could take a chance on Giles because they have time to let him heal and come back slowly. Giles, if healthy, is by far the best player the Nets could potentially select in this year’s draft, and even though he would be a risky pick, he definitely has the biggest upside out of everyone in the draft and the Nets know that and they need to swing for the fences and get him, because it could be the best decision they’ve ever made.