With the NBA Draft a little less than a month away, it’s time to check in on as many internet opinions as possible.
The Brooklyn Nets do not have the luxury of picking up a project at #29 — the franchise needs a player who can contribute immediately.
Not long ago, The Brooklyn Game looked at five potential prospects for the Nets to select at some point in the draft. Today we scoured the web for first round predictions. Plenty will change about the players available by draft night on June 25th, but, for now, these are the best guesses for Brooklyn at #29:
Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: Bleacher Report, Chris Roling
In his first serious dose of playing time last year, the Philadelphia native erupted for 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.5 blocks per game.
Yet Christmas continues to hang around the end of the first round. Some of it has to do with size (6’10”, 243 pounds), but most of it seems to be the fact he only has one year of serious playing time under his belt.
An ability to dominate other top prospects says a lot, and it’s smart to remember Christmas seems to be just budding in his development.
Near the end of the first round, a team such as the Brooklyn Nets won’t mind helping Christmas—a proven producer with off-the-charts measureables—develop into the best pro he can be.
Robert Upshaw, Utah: CBS Sports, Sam Vecenie
Yeah, Upshaw has some problems. He was kicked off of two basketball teams in his collegiate career, and he’ll need an excellent support system around him to succeed. But with Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young possibly hitting free agency and Mason Plumlee only being an average rim protector, it makes sense for the Nets to invest in a potential frontcourt piece that can dominate defensively around the rim.
Cliff Alexander, Kansas: CBS Sports, Zach Harper
Cliff Alexander is another big man prospect you can risk taking with a late first round pick. He’s a little undersized, but the skill is there and he could look great next any big man.
Terry Rozier, Louisville: CBS Sports, Gary Parrish
Rozier was not a preseason First Team All-American like his more celebrated teammate listed above. But he was Louisville’s best player down the stretch. He should be able to get into the lane consistently at the NBA level.
Aleksandar Vezenkov, Cyprus: USA Today, Derek Bodner
Vezenkov’s been a hot name of late, and his three point shooting (he shot 39% from three in the Greek A1 league) could help space he floor for a Brooklyn team that struggled to do so consistently.
Chris McCullough, Syracuse: Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix
An ACL injury in January crippled McCullough’s stock. Pre-injury, McCullough was an athletic, shot-blocking forward with a sound shooting stroke. If he lives up to his potential, he could be a steal here.
After being forced to swap first-round picks with Atlanta, the Nets will have to dig for gold to try to bring some sorely needed talent onto their roster. One solution could be swinging for the fences for McCullough, who has the physical attributes and upside of a top-20 pick, but is a few years away from being able to contribute because of his lack of experience and the fact he’s coming off a torn ACL. The most difficult thing to find in today’s NBA is a power forward who can shoot 3s and block shots, and McCullough shows nice potential in those areas.
(Check out their informative scouting report on McCullough here.)
Wood has a tantalizing combination of length, athleticism and fluidity. He shows flashes with the ability to put the ball on the deck and get to the basket. He also has nice touch and a solid offensive skill level and even some shot blocking ability. He still needs to add more focus, toughness and overall consistency. He had some big performances this season. He strikes some as a player that may be drafted on potential, but always remain a tease. He lacks a real fiery personality, so gaining strength and aggressiveness will be key, but there’s no denying his talent.
Jarrell Martin, LSU: CSN Washington
Martin averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds for an NCAA Tournament. Listed at 6-foot-9, his combine measurements could make the difference between hearing his name called in round 1 or not. The Nets likely look for size with Brook Lopez and Thad Young possibly entering free agency.
Rashad Vaughn, UNLV: Pro Basketball Talk, Kurt Helin
Brooklyn is another team that can use help at almost every position, and while I think they could really use some help at point guard, they are tied up with Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack for the next few seasons. They can certainly use some more shooting, and Vaughn could develop in a couple of years into a consistent NBA three-point threat. Another option may be to draft and stash young Brazilian point guard George de Paula, but I think getting either of these players at 29 would be pretty good for the Nets.
Delon Wright, Utah: New York Post, Tim Bontemps
The Nets have a need for defense at the point, and Wright — who is 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-7½ wingspan — can give them some of what they lost when free agent Shaun Livingston left.
There’s a crazy range here. Do the Nets need a point guard most? What about a center? Should they pick a player with most upside available at #29? Or should they pick someone who can contribute right away? These answers should come into focus over the next few weeks leading up to the draft. We’ll check back in over the next few weeks.