A rumor surfaced Friday afternoon that the Indiana Pacers could be interested in the Brooklyn Nets’ Mason Plumlee and the 29th pick, in exchange for Indiana’s 11th pick, which would put the Nets at the back end of the lottery.
Should this occur, Brooklyn would vastly improve their chances of drafting a player who could positively impact their play on the court. Let’s take a look at a few of the potential Nets that may be available near the end of the lottery.
PG Cameron Payne, So. Murray State- Height: 6’2”, Weight: 183 lbs, Averages: 20.3 points, 6.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds
The Nets have long been associated with point guards in this draft class, and Cameron Payne is widely considered to be the third best point guard prospect behind D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay. He had an incredible statistical 2014-15 season, in which he led Murray State to a 25 game winning streak while winning the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year.
Payne shot fairly well this year, almost 45% from the field, and 37% from deep. His natural scoring ability, paired with his incredible knack for passing the ball makes him a major threat on offense. Along with his 6 assists per game, Payne was able to keep his turnovers at a minimum, averaging 2.6 a game. Payne’s main problem offensively is his inability to convert in the paint, shooting just 49%.
Defensively, Payne’s long and active arms can make him a menace, averaging 2.1 steals per 40 minutes. The biggest knock on his defensive is his lack of intensity throughout the game. Often times he could be seen ball watching and showing disinterest. If he’s selected by Brooklyn, this is sure to be the number one area to work on by defensive minded coach Lionel Hollins.
SG Devin Booker, Fr. Kentucky- Height: 6’6”, Weight: 206 lbs, Averages: 10.0 points, 1.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds
It was reported earlier this week that former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks said on a radio show that Brooklyn was extremely interested in Kentucky’s Devin Booker. Booker was the designated outside scorer off the bench for an extremely talented Kentucky team. At 18, he’s the youngest player in the draft.
Booker is considered to be the best pure shooter in this draft class. He shot 47% from the field, and 41% from beyond the arc. He possesses the unselfishness that’s rare for a great shooter at his age. Booker makes the extra pass along the perimeter, which is key to a great flowing offense, something that was lacking from the Nets offense many times last season.
His strong frame allows him to be physical with his man on defense, but Booker doesn’t have any particular strengths on this end of the floor. His short wingspan makes it tough to get steals and force turnovers, as evidenced by his .4 steals and .1 blocks per game. Booker isn’t particularly quick, allowing offensive players to get by him on defense.
SF Kelly Oubre, Fr. Kansas– Height: 6’7”, Weight: 203 lbs, Averages: 9.3 points, .8 assists, 5.0 rebounds
Kelly Oubre had an up and down year in his only season Kansas. He started the season off slowly, averaging just 8 minutes a game. But as the season wore on, he found himself in Bill Self’s starting lineup, where he showed some flashes of brilliance. Oubre’s main attractiveness to teams is his NBA ready body.
Oubre’s strongest offensive trait is his shot. He has a solid shooting stroke but can sometimes be erratic. His shooting percentages of 50% from 2, and 36% from 3 don’t accurately reflect his potential if he can learn some self-restraint. Oubre has difficulty getting to the rim, and when he does, he converts just 53% of the time. Scouts say his inability to drive to the paint is due to his poor and predictable ball handling skills.
His greatest potential may come defensively. Oubre’s quick feet allow him to stay in front of defenders, in which he’s able to force turnovers at a rate of 2.2 steals per 40 minutes. He also does a great job of rebounding for a small forward, averaging 5 boards a game. If Oubre can play intense defense each possession, he has the ability to become a great defender.
SF Stanley Johnson, Fr. Arizona– Height: 6’7”, Weight: 242 lbs, Averages: 13.8 points, 1.7 assists, 6.5 rebounds
The other small forward in this list, Stanley Johnson, had a more consistent season than Kelly Oubre. Johnson missed just one game this year for Arizona, playing a solid 28 minutes per game the rest. However, Johnson disappointed in Arizona’s last two NCAA Tournament games, against Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Offensively, Johnson has a lot of tools to work with. His strong body and sleek ball handling allows him to easily create his own shot. Johnson needs to improve his capability to put the ball in the basket. He shoots just 48% from 2 and 37% from 3. However, teams should expect tremendous improvement from Johnson in this department, due to the fact that he increased his 3-point percentage by 8 points since high school.
Like Oubre, Stanley Johnson’s greatest strength is on defense. His incredible body and footwork make him extremely versatile. In the NBA, he’d mostly likely be tasked with guarding multiple positions. He is an excellent rebounder, limiting second chance opportunities for the offense. Guarding the perimeter, Johnson possesses the skill to cause turnovers, averaging 2.1 steals per 40 minutes.
PF Trey Lyles, Fr. Kentucky– Height: 6’10”, Weight: 241 lbs, Averages: 8.7 points, 1.1 assists, 5.2 rebounds
The lone big man in this list is Trey Lyles from Kentucky. Due to a logjam in the incredibly formidable Wildcat frontcourt, Lyles was forced to play the small forward, but naturally, he plays power forward. As the year progressed, John Calipari showed more and more confidence with Lyles, and noted that he was an integral part to Kentucky’s success on the court.
Lyles has a good body for his position. He is very smooth in his offensive game, and is able to get the ball in the basket through a variety of ways. He can either post a defender with his back to the basket, or starting at the perimeter, maneuver past his man and make his way inside. Lyles shot almost 54% from 2, with a total field goal percentage of 49%.
Because he was forced to play small forward, Lyles regularly struggled guarding guys on the perimeter. In both the blocks and steals categories, he averaged less than 1 per game, each. When he did play power forward, he had a difficult time defending in the post. Players can back him down with ease, and he tends to show a lack of intensity.
Out of the five players covered in this article, Cameron Payne and Stanley Johnson are the best options for Brooklyn. While Payne isn’t quite ready to start, there’s no doubt he could back up Deron Williams and develop his game from there. This would also give the Nets the ability to look at moving Jarret Jack’s contract. Stanley Johnson may not be completely polished, but he has so many great qualities that can be improved upon, it’s not hard to see why teams like him so much. He could become the athletic wing the Nets have needed for an extremely long time.
The problem with the other three players is that they seem very one-dimensional. Devin Booker is no doubt a fantastic shooter and distributor, but every other aspect of his game is very average and unspectacular. Kelly Oubre is similar to Stanley Johnson, but it seems he has a longer journey to becoming a solid NBA player, mainly on the offensive end. While Trey Lyles could be a great offensive option off the bench, he leaves much to be desired defensively.
Thinking about the possibility of the Nets drafting any of these prospects is a welcome change of mindset. However it’s still just speculation, and anything may or may not happen between now and draft night.