TBG Roundtable: The Brooklyn Nets and the 2017 NBA Draft

Isaiah Whitehead
(AP Photo/George Bridges)

The 2017 NBA Draft date of June 22 is quickly approaching, and interest is rising in what the Brooklyn Nets will do come draft night.

Currently, the Nets have the No. 1 overall…two first-round picks (No. 22 and 27), and a second-round pick at No. 57. Brooklyn might shake things up come draft night, but for now, we look at who the Nets should pick in the first round, and what there is to look forward to on June 22.

(AP Photo/George Bridges)

Who should the Nets draft at No. 22?

Sandy: Sean Marks has stated his intentions to upgrade at the three this offseason, so he could take his chances with selecting a small forward prospect at No. 22. For this draft, in particular, there isn’t a copious amount of small forwards available, but the Nets could go with a player like Tyler Lydon to use down at the three. Lydon’s poor rebounding — as the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote, Lydon is “not a rim protector outside of the college zone system” — wouldn’t exactly make him the best option at power forward. Plus, the 21-year-old forward out of Syracuse University would certainly fit under the Nets’ umbrella of 3-point shooters (39.8 percent 3-point shooter over two seasons at Syracuse).

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp actually had Lydon going to the Nets with the No. 27 pick in SI’s April 4 mock draft. Sharp wrote, “think of him as a rich man’s Justin Hamilton.” I could work with that. As for many other current mock drafts, Lydon is projected to be selected in the late first round or early second round (though oddly enough, the Ringer’s mock draft has Lydon at No. 32, while O’Connor has Lydon at No. 52). If the Nets end up selecting Lydon, I personally hope to see him turn into a much better version of Chris McCullough.

Charles: The best player available regardless of position.

Jesse: Luke Kennard, Guard, Duke

Kennard fits in perfectly with the motion offense Kenny Atkinson implemented in his first season as the Nets coach. Just last season the Duke product converted on 44 percent of three-point shots. Kennard’s abilities are not limited to being a spot-up shooter either; his skills consist of coming off screens as well as pulling up off the dribble, qualities that have become essential to excel in the modern NBA. One of his biggest improvements he made in his sophomore year was being able to facilitate the offense, as his assist total went from 4.5 in his freshman year to 7.7 in his sophomore season. Atkinson’s offense needs all players to be able to facilitate, a knock-down 3-point shooter with good passing seems to make sense as a top of the Nets draft needs.

David: Justin Jackson, Forward, North CarolinaJackson averaged 18.3 points per game in his final season at North Carolina and played a crucial role in the Tar Heels national championship victory in 2017. A dynamic scorer at the rim and behind the three-point line, Jackson could add a level of complexity to the Nets offense that they so desperately desire. Jackson shot 37 percent from deep last season and around 75 percent from the line. As the Nets continue to experiment with young players, Jackson would certainly be an intriguing addition to Brooklyn’s young core of players moving into 2018 and beyond.

: One player that has interested me is Rodions Kurucs. He will probably be a Eurostash, but I think he has the talent to be a really effective player in the league whenever he decides to come over. He moves really well with the ball and is super crafty at the rim. He’s also developing as a shooter. He may have played on the Barcelona Junior team, but his skillset really intrigued me. Although he may not be a Net in 2017-18, I think he’ll be a super solid pro.

Some other prospects I like at that spot are T.J. Leaf, Justin Patton and Jonathan Jeanne. They all have diverse skill sets and have lots of room to grow. This year’s draft is chock full of solid big men, so if the Nets decide to draft two bigs, I wouldn’t be opposed to that.


Who should the Nets draft at No. 27?

Sandy: The Nets should definitely use one of their two first-round picks on Caleb Swanigan, a 20-year-old power forward out of Purdue University. They desperately need players to use at the four behind Trevor Booker and a small ball Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Swanigan would give the Nets a boost with his rebounding (12.5 per game in his sophomore season at Purdue) and newly-improved shot from behind the arc (44.7 percent). In The Ringer’s NBA Draft Guide, Kevin O’Connor described Swanigan as “a bruising big man who can space the floor” and a “great rebounder with strong hands who boxes out,” which are both great qualities the Nets need.

O’Connor and NBADraft.net have Swanigan getting selected at No. 31, while DraftExpress has him going at No. 40, so the lines are a bit blurry about where he’ll end up landing. With where the big man is currently ranked, Brooklyn might still have a good chance of getting him with the No. 27 pick.

Charles: The Nets should go for any (potential) lottery talents that slipped or Eurostash players that Marks feels strongly about.

Jesse: Sindarius Thornwell, Guard, South Carolina

Thornwell, a 4-year college player at 22 years old is as close to being NBA ready as almost any other player in the draft. Although odds are the Nets will look for players with high upside, my feeling is that Brooklyn may not feel they are that far away from the playoffs in especially a weak Eastern Conference. Thornwell averaged 21.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in his senior season and has begun to draw comparisons to Manu Ginobili, in particular, his craftiness when it comes to his drives as well as his aggressive style on the court.

: Wayne Bacon, Guard, Florida StateLast season the Nets experienced a heavy inconsistency at the shooting guard position, whether it was Randy Foye, Sean Kilpatrick or Joe Harris. The addition of Dwayne Bacon wouldn’t necessarily solve this problem, but would definitely give the Nets more depth at one of the most important positions on the floor. Bacon helped lead the Seminoles to a second place finish in the ACC last season and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A solid finisher around the rim, Bacon could bring a level of physicality to the Nets at the guard position, something that they lacked last season. Listed at 6 feet, 6 inches, Bacon averaged 17.2 points per game during his last season in college and would be an enticing presence on the defensive side for the Nets as well.

: I’m a big Isaiah Hartenstein fan. I’ve recently watched a couple of games for Zalgiris Kaunas in the middle of Finals week (yes, my basketball nerdism invades everything in my life) and he showed some solid instincts. He plays with a lot of intensity, which I love. Just look at his dunk highlights – they’re Mason Plumlee-esque. Unlike Plumlee, Hartenstein is a bit younger and is already a solid passer.

Another player I like is Semi Ojeleye. He fits into the mold of super muscular beast small forward that can also shift to power forward when needed. Along with being a hard worker (everything I’ve read about him talks about his work ethic), Ojeleye is also a really solid shooter, averaging over 40 percent from three last season. He might be a bit older of a draft prospect, but he seems NBA ready.

What do Nets fans have to look forward to in this draft?

Sandy: First and foremost, Nets fans have two first-round picks to look forward to in this draft! Props to Sean Marks for making this happen. That’s as good as it can get for a team that lost out on the No. 1 pick in a stacked draft class. Aside from that though, in this draft, Nets fans should simply look forward to players who could possibly turn into the future of the franchise. This season, we saw how nicely Isaiah Whitehead and Caris LeVert progressed. The former was selected in the second round, while the latter was acquired as the No. 20 pick (which isn’t commended enough, since so many casual NBA fans and analysts actually know who LeVert is). I’m positive the Nets will be able to do the same in this year’s draft — select conceivably important core pieces — and make the most of their picks at No. 22 and 27.

Charles: The future. The Nets could potentially draft two foundational pieces. If not, they could potentially package the picks and move up. It’s all about the future and the potential the Nets have moving forward.

Jesse: Nets fans have the possibility of trades to look forward to on draft day. The past two years, Brooklyn has made a trade for a first on draft day. Possible moves that have gained some momentum among draft pundits is the possibility of Toronto moving their 23rd overall pick to dump the salary of Demmarre Carroll; Brooklyn, with a lack of talent and plenty of cap space, seems ideal as a trade partner with the Raptors. Marks may elect to combine Brooklyn’s two picks in an attempt to move up to the mid-late teens if the right player is available.

David: The 2017 NBA Draft was originally a day that Nets fans thought they would dread for a long time. The loss of the No. 1 overall pick to their division rival Celtics certainly stings, but the Nets have a chance to accelerate their rebuilding process in the draft. The Nets will pick three times on June 22, and in front of a native Brooklyn crowd at Barclays Center, Sean Marks will have an opportunity to provide some serious growth for this franchise. All throughout sports media, the Nets have been regarded as the laughing stock of this draft, but with two first round picks, Brooklyn has a chance to completely change the narrative. Even at No. 57, the Nets can find a lot of value. After all, they turned the No. 55 overall pick last year into Isaiah Whitehead, who ended up having a very encouraging rookie season. This draft is the first thing in a while that Nets fans can look forward to, and we have reason to believe that Marks will make all the right moves.

Charles: The NBA Draft is like Christmas for all NBA fans. While the Nets may not have the No. 1 pick (sorry for reminding everyone), the Nets are starting to build a really solid young core. Along with Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets could be really young and really fun in the next few years. I also expect the Nets to be active in some trades. They could look for a pick in the 2018 draft, or absorb a contract to get a third first-round pick.

And honestly, I trust Sean Marks’ decision making and I could convince myself whoever he drafts will be good. Just look at Caris LeVert! Nobody expected him to be a first rounder, but many people are pegging him as the best Nets prospect. June 22 will be super hopeful for Nets fans.