NBA Draft Outlook: Brooklyn Nets
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In 2019, The Brooklyn Nets surpassed expectations, making the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the sixth seed, with a 42-40 record. After stealing game one on the road, the Nets lost four straight at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the future is unfathomably bright. With a surplus of cap space, a gritty swagger, a brilliant front office, and a slew of young players, the Nets are positioning themselves to be in the running for multiple top free agents. Even if they miss out on the top tier, hope is not lost. This summer will be critical for Brooklyn, but before diving into free agency, we must turn to the NBA draft. The Nets have three quality picks in which they can bolster their roster and address needs with. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Nets’ draft outlook.
Key returners: Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs,
Notable free agents: D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe (Player Option), Shabazz Napier (Team Option)
Top draft selections: 17, 27 (via Denver), 31 (via New York)
Team needs: power forward, toughness, defense, athleticism
PF - PJ Washington - Kentucky
Sophomore stats: 15.2 PPG (52.2 FG%), 7.6 RPG, 1.2 BPG
The Nets need a running mate for rising center Jarrett Allen and Washington offers a perfect compliment. I understand that the organization intends to bring back Ed Davis, but he is not the answer moving forward and would be a valuable player off the bench. Despite only standing at 6-foot-7, Washington possesses a 7-foot-2 wingspan, allowing him to alter shots and disrupt opposing offenses. Coming back to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his footwork and post scoring were taken to a new level. Washington is not a true deep threat yet, but he did knock down 42.3% of his 2.2 three point attempts per game.
This would be a long term play for Brooklyn; Washington possesses all the physical tools to be a great defender and has a respectable offensive toolkit. Not to mention, he brings a certain toughness and grit that Brooklyn has made its name off of. That is, if Washington is even still on the board at 17.
G/F - Talen Horton-Tucker - Iowa State
Freshman stats: 11.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG
Speaking of long term plays, taking Horton-Tucker would epitomize that ideology. This may serve as a head-scratcher for some, but hear me out. LeVert and Dinwiddie have solidified themselves in the rotation and Kurucs’ predicted improvement will take more minutes as well. Not to mention, Russell will likely return despite speculation. However, Horton-Tucker is one of the most overlooked prospects in this draft. In an era of positionless basketball, THT will be a luxury for whichever team takes on the risk. His 7-foot-1 wingspan makes up for his 6-foot-4 frame, and he won’t turn 19 until late November.
With three high draft picks, Horton-Tucker is a justified gamble due to his length, driving ability, versatility, and jumpshot potential. The concern is inconsistency; he’s extremely raw, but has shown at various times that there are many facets to his game. It may be a couple seasons before he is ready to substantially contribute, but THT can play multiple positions for Brooklyn and immediately bolster the team’s overall athleticism.
F - Chuma Okeke - Auburn
Sophomore stats: 12.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG
The ACL injury that Okeke suffered against North Carolina in the Sweet 16 was sickening and will hinder his draft stock. However, the Auburn forward may be worth the gamble, especially at 27 or 31, just on upside alone. In the NCAA Tournament, Okeke displayed his ability to rebound effectively and play solid on-ball defense. Not only that, but his athleticism allows him to drive and finish around the rim. He may not play much, if any of his rookie season, but the potential Okeke possesses is unique.
Both seasons in college, he shot just under 40% from three. Getting a crafty power forward who can rebound and finish around the rim as well as knock down the deep ball would be a huge addition to Brooklyn’s rotation. Okeke was a potential top-20 pick before the injury, and if he can return to full strength, could be one of the top steals of the draft.