Now that the dust has settled on another wild draft night for the Brooklyn Nets, it’s time for some outward reflection. For two weeks, everybody expected the Nets to jump into the first round somehow, but writers and fans alike were perplexed at how they might do it. Eventually, that trade would materialize as they sent power forward Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for the 20th overall selection.
While many believed that Young could’ve had more value, particularly so when the Charlotte Hornets moved the 22nd pick for just Marco Belinelli mere hours later, the Nets front office clearly had their sights on Michigan’s Caris LeVert. The former Wolverine is a talented athlete, but his career has been marred by injury thus far, having three surgical procedures on his left foot in 22 months.
To close the festivities out, the Nets swapped the 55th pick and cash for the 42nd and selected Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead. After leading the Pirates to a surprise Big East Championship this March, Whitehead’s stock continued to rise throughout workouts and the combine. Of course, Whitehead will become the first-ever Brooklyn-born player to compete for the Nets and should become an instant fan-favorite with Seton Hall just 18 miles away from the Barclays Center.
Three members of The Brooklyn Game’s team weighed in on the moves and what’s next for the Nets:
Grade the Thaddeus Young for Caris LeVert trade
Ryan Carbain: D. This grade is about value. I believe Thaddeus Young, a malleable player on a good contract, should’ve returned more than the 20th pick in a shallow draft. Given LeVert’s health concerns, I think you could’ve bought a pick and selected him early in the second round if that was the desired end goal.
I do like what LeVert represents as a player, but even if clearing more cap room is the overarching goal, I’m still a little confused. In fairness to Marks, now is one of the few times you can make a trade without taking salary back, but I still think he sold some stock a little early.
Elizabeth Swinton: B-. Once the news broke, my initial reaction was the Nets could have gotten more for Young. It seems safe to assume that LeVert was the player they were targeting throughout the draft process, so they must be confident in Martin O’Malley, the same surgeon that worked on Brook Lopez’s foot. Besides that, LeVert looks promising and has a strong upside when not battling injuries, so the trade may be worth it down the line. Go young or go home — too soon?
Ben Nadeau: C+. Like most of the world, I was surprised that the 20th pick was all they could get for Young, but I’m slowly warming up to it a bit more. However, Young was on insanely team-friendly contract and should elevate the Pacers to serious contenders in the Eastern Conference alongside Jeff Teague and Paul George.
Look, I get it, LeVert has had some injury problems — but we were clamoring for someone new and exciting after Billy King’s exit, so Sean Marks deserves the benefit of the doubt for now. Let’s put down the pitchforks and acknowledge that the team is a couple years away anyways, the Nets will always have cap space, and if LeVert pans out, they’ll have snagged a great player in a weak draft.
The Nets moved up to snag Isaiah Whitehead with the 42nd pick, but was it a good value?
RC: Sure. I liked Malcolm Brogdon in this range a little better, but I don’t mind rolling the dice on Whitehead. The Nets need some help in the backcourt desperately and with everybody else either opting out or on the block, Whitehead is a good fit.
ES: Isaiah Whitehead with 42nd pick was a great selection. An All-Big East First Team player at Seton Hall, Whitehead has blossomed into the point guard role beautifully. His three-point shot and scoring prowess are attractive assets, but his passing and turnovers will need improvement. If the Nets didn’t swoop in and take him, I’m sure the Knicks would have, and I’m glad he’s in the black and white in his home borough of Brooklyn. Great move by the Nets.
BN: The Nets’ current point guard situation is a desolate graveyard of broken dreams, so they could’ve drafted me there and I would’ve been satisfied. Whitehead brings a whole lot of that grit and passion that seems to a marketing staple of the Nets moving forward. Add in the partial guarantee that Yogi Ferrell has reportedly received and Brooklyn is making quick strides in the playmaking department.
How do you feel about the core of Whitehead, LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson, Lopez, and McCullough moving forward?
RC: I’d feel a lot better about it, if we had our own pick next year. This is not a core that’ll going to win too many games currently, but it is what it is.
That said, the roster makes sense around Lopez. The team took on a lot of bigger, versatile athletes who can switch on defense, allowing Brook to hang near the rim where he’s most comfortable. Each player has a flaw, either in his game or by injury, and the team is putting its chips behind Atkinson’s emphasis on player development and the team’s new conditioning programs.
ES: While the loss of Young changes the Nets’ balance and make-up drastically, this core is solid. Lopez will need to gel with Whitehead before anything legitimately great can bloom, but it’s a good problem to have. With LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson, and McCullough in tow, this Nets lineup becomes very versatile and, with time, can become a mature and talented threat in the Eastern Conference.
BN: Yes, moving Young for just a mid-first hurts; yes, they have a pick swap again with the Boston Celtics in year; yes, they’re not going to be a playoff team in 2016-2017 — but this is still progress. When Marks came in, he preached patience. No more band-aids, quick-fixes, or shortcuts.
Well, guys, this is it.
They’ve taken some gambles on athletic, long, and fluid players the last two years, so they’re setting up to be a team full of Shaun Livingstons at some point. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, the Nets will likely have their draft picks back by then anyways.