This Thursday’s draft is littered with intriguing wings in the second round. The Brooklyn Nets currently own the 57th pick, but they have worked out so many second round prospects, it could be a hint that they could potentially trade for or buy an additional second rounder. In Sean Marks’ search for talent, the second round of the draft could add depth to the Nets’ young core.
Previously, I profiled some Brooklyn Nets wing targets in the first round and early second round. Now, we’re going to go a little deeper, a little more unheralded. These prospects are a little under the radar, some not even on many mock drafts. These are the potential G-League two-way contract candidates and possibly the long-term draft and stash candidates. Some of these players have had workouts with the Brooklyn Nets. Want to know who? We have the list.
Let’s take a look at seven sleeper picks at the wing slots for the Brooklyn Nets.
*All Mock Draft rankings current as of June 17th
Brooklyn Nets Domestic Sleepers
Thornwell was a major force in the Gamecocks’ surprising Final Four run. For many games, Thornwell was the Gamecocks’ offense. He did a little bit of everything, with most of the offense centered on the senior star, often drawing fouls off drives. Thornwell, much like fellow senior Josh Hart, is a player that was productive despite his lack of athleticism. His shot mechanics aren’t great, but he sank threes at a solid clip. Thornwell plays smart – and tough (um, I mean gritty) – on both ends of the floor. He shared a bit of the ballhandling duties with P.J. Dozier, while also rebounding solidly on the offensive end. He may struggle on the offensive end due to a lack of explosion and elite athleticism.
On the defensive end, Thornwell was a big factor in SC being one of the best Division I defensive teams. He fights through screens defensively, and closes out on shooters well, with a solid wingspan. Additionally, Thornwell was a consistent thief, stealing over two passes per game this season while not fouling too often.
Thornwell is a mature, NBA ready prospect. The Brooklyn Nets could be enamored by Thornwell’s potential 3-and-D skillset, and his college pedigree. Thornwell was interviewed by the Nets at the Draft Combine, but hasn’t worked out for the Nets as of this writing. But still, Thornwell could be a solid pick for the Nets, and could contribute right away.
The Miami senior projects as a role player in the NBA. Reed was Miami’s leading scorer, with consistent, solid shooting throughout his college career. Specifically, Reed excelled as a spot-up shooter, indicating a possible smooth transition to the NBA game. Reed is also a rock solid playmaker able to parlay his shooting into drives to the rim. Drives are the extent of Reed’s off the dribble game, as he wasn’t too creative a scorer.
Reed’s long wingspan projects him as an ideal 2-3-4 defender. He hustled at Miami, with a high motor and constantly hustling. He was also a solid rebounder for his position, mostly due to his hustle. Reed may have struggled a little closing out on defenders, but he was solid overall in seemingly any situation. His slightly smaller frame may prevent him from effectively guarding the NBA’s bigger small forwards and prevent him from switching onto power forwards.
Production-wise, Reed matches up well with another 2017 Draft Prospect, Sterling Brown. Reed may have the advantage due to his role in a major conference, and his status as a team’s go-to scoring option. At Miami, the New Jersey-native was a leader. If the Brooklyn Nets draft Reed, it’s due to his production and consistency, rather than his upside.
But wait! There are more 3-and-D prospects. Beachem is long and spindly, possessing nice athleticism at his size. He made a name for himself as a shooter, shooting 39.2% in his collegiate career, despite a somewhat lackluster senior season at 36.1%. Beachem also was a solid off- ball player, cutting to the basket and moving off screens well in Notre Dame’s offense. Beachem was primarily a shooter, showing very little of an off-the dribble game.
Beachem is long. However, he often saw lapses defensively, especially off-ball. He would struggle fighting through screens and in understanding angles. Beachem’s best defensive aspect is his on-ball defense. When he was engaged, he used his length to his advantage. Beachem has the length and nice foot speed to defend well, but the effort isn’t always there. Despite his size, Beachem wasn’t a particularly strong rebounder with a slender frame.
Beachem is another player that had a workout with the Brooklyn Nets in the fancy new HSS Training Center. Much like the previous two prospects, he was solid, but unspectacular. He projects as strictly a catch and shoot player going forward, which is a role the Nets may need with aggressive drivers like Jeremy Lin on the squad.
Blossomgame is more of an undersized small forward than 3-and-D player. In his four years at Clemson, he, well, blossomed into a key offensive option. Blossomgame thrived on hustle plays. He secured many offensive rebounds, and his solid athleticism helped him score easy baskets in transition. His motor was nonstop, competing on every play on both ends. From numerous profiles on the Clemson senior, Blossomgame’s work ethic was impeccable, adding muscle mass and chiseling his body while improving his game. However, Blossomgame’s offensive production has some flaws, namely his shooting, which came back down to earth after he shot 45.5% in his junior year.
Blossomgame’s strength and effort will help him become a solid pro basketball player. He’s an explosive leaper, occasionally pinning shots against the backboard. He has solid instincts defensively, and is exceptional in the low post, a surprise for a relatively undersized player. As a pick and roll defender, Blossomgame may be better suited for switching pick and roll, rather than dropping back on the play. His aggressiveness on the defensive end is welcome, and he often became a little too handsy with players, especially committing fouls on the perimeter.
Fun fact: the only two Clemson products in the NBA both played on the Brooklyn Nets last season. Both K.J. McDaniels and Trevor Booker will likely be singing the praises of their fellow Tiger. Blossomgame has worked out for the Nets previously, and could be available at pick 57. He may be a bit older of a prospect, turning 24 before the start of the season, but he fills the energetic, versatile switching wing role that many NBA teams may want to invest in.
Brooklyn Nets Draft and Stash Steals?
Abalde, a product of Joventut in Spain, is automatically eligible in the draft this year. He played a solid role on a Joventut team that struggled in Liga ACB this past season. Abalde reads defenses well, choosing when to shoot and when to attack pretty well. He’s a crafty finisher around the rim, and finishes through contact well. He has a decent looking shot, but he didn’t convert threes as efficiently as desired. As a distributor, Abalde moves the ball pretty well on the perimeter and occasionally ran the pick and roll for Joventut.
He could struggle with NBA athleticism, like many European players. He possesses nice defensive instincts on rotations, but he’s lacking in foot speed. Abalde rebounds at a decent rate, but he doesn’t really project as a small-ball forward.
On an individual level, Abalde doesn’t seem like the most intriguing prospect. But he has “glue guy” potential. He plays smart, moves the ball, and rotates well on defense. He could fit perfectly as a role player, making winning plays off the bench. If his shooting touch develops, he would be even more dangerous. But whether Abalde produces in the NBA or on a top level Euroleague team (I’m feeling Barcelona) is up in the air. He could be one to wait on.
I watched quite a few Barcelona games during the Nets’ losing streak just to watch Vezenkov. The Bulgarian forward played a solid role for Barcelona. As an NBA player, he projects as a combo forward with range. He was a knockdown shooter, able to get his shot off quickly and from any position. Vezenkov moves really well off the ball and just has a knack for shooting, with great footwork and rhythm. He has solid size and could be great as a pick-and-pop four off of the bench. Overall, Vezenkov is a pure shooter, but may need to expand his offensive game.
Of course, Vezenkov isn’t exactly the best or strongest athlete. That hinders his offensive, where he would likely be met with contact at the rim. Defensively, that could be the difference between him being an NBA prospect or an International superstar is his athleticism. Vezenkov has what I call “heavy feet” defensively, with teams often resorting to bully-ball him, trying to switch onto him. He also isn’t a great leaper, which could hurt his solid defensive rebounding numbers. Vezenkov does understand positioning well on defense, so it may not be a complete tragedy for him on the defensive end.
Cancar is a couple of years away. He played for Mega Leks, AKA the team with highlighter green and pink jerseys. Cancar posted solid numbers despite in a relatively small role on a Mega Leks team that has a few interesting draft options. He has a decent looking shot for a combo forward, with developing mechanics. He showed a decent ability to score stemming from off ball screens, and also has intriguing pick and pop potential. For a bigger prospect, Cancar is a surprisingly decent passer. He can find teammates both at a standstill or off the dribble, where he can attack closeouts well.
The Slovenian auto-eligible player defended solidly this past season, despite some athletic shortcomings. He’s still very skinny and lacking in strength, so he will have to work on getting stronger if he chooses to play for a higher-level club in general. Cancar plays within himself, defending spots well and understanding rotations and pick and roll coverage. He has long arms that he uses solidly as a rebounder and denying passing lanes. Cancar fouled essentially 6 fouls per 40 minutes, often playing a little too aggressively if he gets beat athletically.
Cancar projects as a sturdy role player no matter where he plays next. He has solid potential as the youngest out of these international prospects. A little more seasoning on a well-coached team could prepare Cancar for the NBA, decreasing his over-aggressive habits and really honing his playmaking abilities. He’s risen slightly on draft boards recently after being rated as undrafted in several mocks in the past few months.
Building a Foundation
The seven prospects just described weren’t exactly the most eye-popping with their statlines, with the exception of Sindarius Thornwell. But in the second round the Nets will be looking for players to be the #RoleStars of their squad, players that could just make the roster or have potential to develop in the G-League. They’re looking for the Isaiah Whiteheads, or even the Alan Andersons and Keith Bogans in the second round.
Sure, the NBA Draft has produced second round studs previously, but the Nets should be looking for players that could fit in the team’s foundation in the second round, not looking for a grand slam pick. Yes, the Nets own only a late second round pick. But they could add quite a few, with multiple teams possessing multiple seconds – and nowhere to place their prospects. And if any of these players goes undrafted the Nets could give them a shot in summer league or on Long Island in 2017-2018. It’s all on the table starting Thursday.
For more of my NBA Draft Guide, check out these pieces. 40 draft profiles done, 10 to go! Happy draft season!
The NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 22nd. Stay tuned to The Brooklyn Game for more NBA Draft and Brooklyn Nets offseason news and analysis!