Assuming Billy King can’t maneuver his way into a higher draft pick, the Brooklyn Nets will be in control of the 29th pick in this year’s NBA Draft. While the NBA Draft is an important part of every team’s offseason activities, it seems especially vital for the Nets this year. With an anticipated bleak season ahead, the Nets brass will have to make the most of their unfortunate draft position and hope they luck out on a potential impact player in Brooklyn.
The 29th pick hasn’t produced many great NBA talents over the years. The most recent notable player chosen at this position was in 2001, however there have been some stars produced including when the San Antonio Spurs selected Tony Parker. The Nets could only dream of landing a player of Parker’s caliber. Not only would it give them a cornerstone to help build around Brook Lopez, but it’d also give them a chance to make a desperate push for the playoffs. But this is all just a pipe dream.
The prospects that have most often been linked to the Nets are as follows:
SG Rashad Vaughn, Fr. UNLV– Vaughn stands at 6-6 and weighs 210 lbs. He averaged 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.
PF Christian Wood, So. UNLV– Wood is tall for a power forward at 6-11 and weighing in at 220 lbs. Alongside fellow draft mate Vaughn, he averaged 15.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game at UNLV.
PG Terry Rozier, So. Louisville– Rozier stands at 6-1 and 190 lbs, not overwhelming but solid for a point guard. He averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game last year.
PF Chris McCullough, Fr. Syracuse– McCullough has a long 6-9 body, but is frail at just 200 lbs. In his lone campaign at Syracuse, he averaged 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.
There isn’t a whole lot of parity amongst insiders and scouts as to what type of player the Nets are looking for, and that’s understandable. This team has a lot of questions right now, and it should be of no surprise that King and the rest of the front office are looking at ALL options. However, we’ll try to break down each player’s strengths and weaknesses, and how well they fit with the current Nets roster. First up, Rashad Vaughn.
Vaughn’s best basketball trait that he’ll carry over to the pros is his ability to create shots for himself, and score beyond the perimeter. He shot 38% from three, with a total field goal percentage of 44%. By being such a threat from deep, it’ll help space the floor and open up the paint for guys like Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young (assuming they’ll return) to get fewer contested shot attempts. However, Vaughn can be erratic at times, taking bad shots and stopping the flow of the offense. This is common theme of the Nets offense as of the last several seasons, as a lot of isolation, and poorly developed possessions led to shot clock violations and turnovers.
When reading over his scouting report, Vaughn becomes more and more similar to former Nets first rounder MarShon Brooks. Brooks was an incredible scorer at Providence, but his offensive game failed him in the NBA when he couldn’t knock down open shots, and his familiar isolation style led to wasted possessions. It’s difficult to say what will become of Rashad Vaughn. There have been many players of his style that have succeeded as role players in the league, but as with the case of Brooks, many have also failed.
Next on the list is Vaughn’s teammate at UNLV, Christian Wood. He has great length for a power forward, but lacks the strength needed to do the dirty work in the paint. He’s extremely athletic for his size, and can run the floor with ease on a fast break. On the offensive end, Wood is multi-talented, but could use work in some areas.
He has a great ability to finish around the rim, and has no problem backing down defenders in the paint. Wood also shoots with an ease that very few big men can, allowing him to bring defenders outside the paint, freeing up rebounds for his teammates. However, he needs more discipline when it comes to shooting outside shots. Wood shot 28% from three, but took almost three attempts per game.
Defensively, there’s potential, but a lot of problems that are hard to look past. His 7-3 wingspan can swat shots into the bleachers, but he’s often going after pump fakes or looking lost when he’s not covering the ball.
Scouts say if Wood can build muscle and become a more mature player on the court, he can become a solid NBA player. But it could take a while for that to come to fruition. Wood could be a nice complement to Mason Plumlee coming off the bench. They both run very well and are active in the paint. Perhaps if Wood can develop a consistent offensive game, he and Plumlee could coexist. However, the defensive end would leave much to be desired. Plumlee isn’t particularly good at handling guys bigger than him, and Wood needs to build much more muscle to be able to defend in the paint.
Moving back to the guard position, Louisville’s Terry Rozier may be the guy most linked to the Nets in mock drafts. It’s no question they’d love to get a point guard who they can groom to take over Deron Williams’s position in two years. Rozier is a very fast and strong guard, attributes that also belonged to D-Will in his prime.
He does a great job of beating his man on the first step, allowing him to get to the paint with ease. His ball-handling skills have improved since his freshman year, but carelessness with the ball leads to too many turnovers. Last season Rozier had an assist to turnover ratio of 1.4, far below your typical point guard’s statistic. If he wants to be successful, he needs to be able to make the smart decisions and not try to do too much with the ball. Another area where
Rozier struggles is shooting the ball. Last season his field goal percentage was just above 40%. For a point guard struggling to pass the ball, it’s important that he can make the shots to make up for the turnovers. With time Rozier’s shooting may improve, but as of now, it’s a major work in progress. Defensively, he does a great job of going after rebounds, and his active hands come up with an average of 2 steals a game.
Rozier is an interesting prospect for the Nets. He’ll probably be the best point guard prospect available if he’s still on the board at 29. His energy and athleticism should be welcome on a team that runs the floor so poorly, and a tandem of Rozier and Markel Brown on the floor could make for some exciting moments.
Finally, the last prospect is power forward Chris McCullough. McCullough has almost the same strengths and weaknesses as Christian Wood. He runs the floor very well, and is active on the defensive end. He has a good shooting stroke from mid-range, shooting 47% on 2-pointers. His wingspan of 7-3 makes it difficult for other bigs to get shots over him in the paint.
However as with Wood, McCullough needs work on his fundamentals. Often times he’d be caught ball watching on defense, neglecting his assignment. McCullough also doesn’t possess the adequate skills to pass the ball very well, especially out of double teams. One other big knock on the Syracuse big man is his lack of experience. He only played 16 games in his college career, and NBA teams like prospects with a consistent track record, unlike McCullough.
After searching through many scouting reports, it seems the Nets would be best off drafting Terry Rozier, should he be available. Point guards are one of the hardest positions to fill, and although Rozier has his flaws, there’s also room to grow. Out of the four prospects covered, he’s the oldest at 21, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from Billy King, it’s that he values college experience. Rashad Vaughn is another interesting choice, but Brooklyn already has guys whose primary objective is to score the ball. Plus, Vaughn is coming back from a torn meniscus injury, which could come off as a red flag.
For Nets fans, there’s no knowing what will happen on Draft night. Rumors continue to swirl that Mason Plumlee is being used as trade bait to move up, but perhaps it won’t be necessary. Maybe King’s guy falls right to them at 29. Who will that be? Who do you think the Nets should draft. Let us know.