The Brooklyn Nets’ 2015 NBA Draft entered with a whimper and left with a bang.
For most of the first round, the Nets dangled Mason Plumlee to jump into the lottery, likely to draft a point guard. They were unsuccessful. But later, they’d deal Plumlee and the rights to Pat Connaughton to Portland for Steve Blake and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
They also added Syracuse’s Chris McCullough, a talented freshman that tore his ACL in January, and dealt two future second-rounders for Charlotte’s Juan Vaulet.
So, now that you’ve hopefully had enough time to catch your breath, The Brooklyn Game crew threw down on a post-draft roundtable for trade-delirious pleasure.
1. Grade the Pick: Chris McCullough, 29th overall.
Zach Fisch: B+. If the Nets surrender a lottery pick to the Celtics next year, having a lottery talent in McCullough waiting in the wings will make that sting a bit less.
Ryan Carbain: B+. I like the pick. At 29, a 6’10” forward with an outside shooting stroke, quick feet, and some rim protection is nice value and where the league is heading. I’d rather look to the future than what fits right away.
Ben Nadeau: B. McCullough is talented, but he might not even play in 2015. For a team trying to save their sinking ship, players that can play might help. But the Nets are in an interesting position; they can definitely wait for McCullough to return fully healthy, since they won’t be a good basketball team until then anyways.
Devin Kharpertian: B. I like the Nets shooting for upside and bucking their own trend of drafting seniors when there’s more upside on the board, and McCullough has the raw talent to potentially make a lottery-style impact. But there’s also not much clarity on how successful he’ll be after 16 uneven games with the Orange.
2. Grade the Trade: Mason Plumlee & the 41st pick (Pat Connaughton) for Steve Blake & the 23rd pick (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson).
Fisch: A-. The Nets got a high-upside, versatile defender in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has drawn comparisons to fellow Arizona product and Billy King draftee Andre Igoudala. With Johnny Rockets enthusiast Steve Blake coming to Brooklyn as well, the Nets may be able to rid themselves of Jarrett Jack. The Nets may have sold low on Plumlee, but with Brook Lopez hogging minutes, Mighty Mase may not have had the chance to rehabilitate his value.
Carbain: C-. Weird taste in my mouth on this one. The Nets undoubtedly need a pitbull like Hollis-Jefferson. I get it, but, I have my doubts about him developing an offensive game. You know what you have in Plumlee, and if the Nets are shipping him off, I’d prefer a more polished product.[note]Jerian Grant comes to mind. Damn the Knicks.[/note] Never mind that fact that I liked the way Connaughton hit the boards and spaced the floor. Blake has some serious Ridnour potential, though.
Nadeau: A. The jury is out on this one — but the Nets set out to get a first-rounder for Plumlee, and they got one. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should be a perfect fit for Lionel Hollins’s system, but the Nets have just one center on the roster and he’s currently a free agent. It’s too bad that Mason Plumlee never really fit in with Hollins, but Hollis-Jefferson should fill an important role on the team.
Kharpertian: A if Hollis-Jefferson can spend the next two years developing his outside shot, C if he can’t. His athleticism, defense, and big personality are more than welcome on a team that desperately lacks all three of those attributes. But it’ll be hard to hide him on offense if he can’t hit a three-pointer, and it’s strange to think that 22nd overall pick Mason Plumlee couldn’t get the Nets above 23, while castoff Tim Hardaway Jr. snuck the Knicks into the top 20.
3. I don’t know Juan Vaulet and you don’t either. Make something up about him.
Fisch: He could be the Argentinian Manu Ginobili someday.
Nadeau: Juan Vaulet and Manu Ginobili star in the most popular comic book series in Argentina, it’s an adventure where two basketball stars must defeat aliens that have come to steal their talent. It’s called Clavada Espacio.
Kharpertian: Juan Vaulet started the Argentinian version of “Chappelle’s Show,” where Vaulet impersonates various Argentinian celebrities in increasingly absurd comedy sketches. It is currently in its 36th season, despite Vaulet only being 19 years old. It is the highest-rated show in Argentina every week. He never mentions basketball. Weirdly enough, he just calls it “Chappelle’s Show.”
4. Grade the night overall:
Carbain: B-: I simultaneously like and dislike the draft strategy. On one hand:?It’s better to find the better talent regardless of immediate fit. I prefer McCullough’s talent to a player who may be ready to okay on Day 1. But I get antsy when a team makes moves based off system or coaching preference over talent. The Plumlee-Hollis-Jefferson trade gives me that feel but the jury’s out.
Fisch: A-. As was their goal, the Nets got younger and more athletic. Assuming Lopez comes back, the roster fits better now.
Nadeau: A. We’ll never truly know if Plumlee reached his full potential in Brooklyn, but the writing was on the wall. After getting phased out of two consecutive playoff rotations, turning that into an athletic defender at one of their weakest positions is a miracle. Add in an intriguing International stash and a point guard that could bring the end of Jack in Brooklyn — and don’t forget that they didn’t deal Bogdanovic — and you get an A from me.
Kharpertian: B. These immediate grades are always a little bit off — so much of the way we contextualize draft night comes years later. But the Nets picked up talent with upside here. These picks would indicate they’re taking the long view, and with the team not looking to compete next season, it’s prudent that they didn’t add talent in win-now mode.