Long Island Nets Prospect Rankings: No Use Crying Over Spilled Yogi
Given how much of the East Coast woke up on Saturday to the news that Yogi Ferrell, the undrafted point guard the Brooklyn Nets cut twice in three months, erupted for 32 points on 9 three-pointers, there’s been much upheaval and ho-humming about the franchise’s doomed fate. While Ferrell is thriving on the Dallas Mavericks now, the Nets are stuck in purgatory again and it’s better knowing the undersized guard is a player could’ve helped out this Nets’ struggling squad.
But where to go from here?
While they’ve officially missed out on Ferrell, who will bypass his second 10-day deal with Mavericks in lieu of a long-term contract, there’s still plenty of talent worth following on the Long Island Nets, the franchise’s new D-League organization. Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Isaiah Whitehead have shown promise, but the Nets will need to surround them with even more talent to grow into a respectable outfit in the Eastern Conference.
The LI Nets have overcome early struggles to secure a 12-19 record in their inaugural season but wins and losses aren’t as important as developing prospects for the Brooklyn Nets. Sean Marks has used the LI Nets as a way to develop his younger players on the roster — like Chris McCullough and Anthony Bennett, for example — taking advantage of the fact that both teams play their games at the Barclays Center and practice at the HSS Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at the roster and ranking the top five prospects each week for the LI Nets. Although the Nets’ roster is full at the top, there should be plenty of movement between now and this month’s trade deadline. Maybe, this time, the Nets can avoid missing out on another NBA-ready player.
5. Beau Beech
Beau Beech is a stretch-four, but at 6’7, he’s a bit undersized for the NBA game. He doesn’t rebound particularly well either, with just 2.8 boards per game in 20 minutes. What Beech does do, however, is stroke the long ball at a respectable rate. While hoisting up four attempts per game, Beech is shooting 36% on three-pointers in his rookie season. While that is certainly not extraordinary, and many would point to that number dropping when facing NBA-level defenses, keep in mind that the LI Nets do not have any standout point guards on their roster to find him innumerable clean looks. In Kenny Atkinson’s motion offense
In Kenny Atkinson’s motion offense, Beech could be a fit just like Kyle Korver was in Atlanta — an overstatement for sure, but stay with us. Beech needs to prove that he can be proficient in other areas of his game before getting a serious look with any NBA team, but for a team that loves to shoot three-points at an inefficient clip, there are many worse fits out there.
4. J.J. Moore
J.J. Moore is impressive physically standing at 6’6 and weighing in at 215 lbs and, more impressively, is also one of the team’s top scorers with 11.9 points per contest. Moore shoots a respectable 48% from the field and also converts three-pointers at a shade under 35%. The forward’s athleticism doesn’t blow anyone away, but he has shown the ability to score from any part of the floor, which is certainly a skill that translates to the NBA. After scoring 15 points per game and grabbing 4 boards a game during December, Moore has cooled off over the past month.
Despite some impressive flashes, Moore will need to be more consistent if he hopes to catch on with an NBA franchise.
3. Egidijus Mockevicius
You can’t teach size, so at 6’10, Egidijus Mockevicious already has a leg up on the competition in terms of landing an NBA contract. He’s a decent finisher around the rim with a solid 53% field goal percentage and is also a good rebounder, hauling in 7.2 rebounds per game. Mockevicious has had some stellar individual efforts this season, posting a line of 15 points, 18 rebounds and 4 steals, and then another of 16 points and 11 rebounds during two late January games. If he can continue to produce like that, it’ll only be a matter of time before a team takes notice and inks the rookie out of Evansville to a 10-day contract.
2. Trahson Burrell
Simply put, Trashon Burrell has been a nice find for the Nets this season. The lanky wing (6’7, 190 lbs) has shown the versatility that the Brooklyn Nets should covet sooner rather than later. He can be utilized as small-ball 4, but Burrell would truly excel on the fast break running alongside Hollis-Jefferson or Whitehead in Atkinson’s face-paced offense. His 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game outpace everyone on the roster besides Chris McCullough, a lottery pick who has already played with the Nets over the past two seasons.
Burrell is the best prospect on the team that hasn’t already seen NBA action and if he continues to improve his outside shot (just 30% on the year), he could perhaps carve out a role on the Nets’ bench before year’s end.
1. R.J. Hunter
And, finally, of course: R.J. Hunter has bounced around this season, getting waived by the Boston Celtics in October before finding a (brief) home with the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately for him, it was only a temporary one, as he was released by the organization after spending time with both the Bulls and their D-league affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
Since December, however, Hunter has been a fixture on the Long Island Nets, lighting up the league with 15.5 points per game. Hunter is arguably more talented some of the Nets’ current members and would immediately help the team as a second unit spark plug. Hunter can certainly be more well-rounded, but in just his second year in the league, he has time to figure out the rest of his game.
Hunter was a mid-first rounder and will likely find a home in the NBA this year, if not with the Brooklyn Nets.