With the trade deadline passed, the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, and the regular season starting to wind down, most teams are turning their attention to the playoffs. While the Brooklyn Nets are desperately clinging to their own playoff hopes, they also find themselves in the unique position of being one of only three playoff teams with more than one first-round pick in the upcoming draft, the others being the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs.
Although much of the season is still in flux, it’s still worthwhile to examine some possible selections for draft night. One of those picks could quickly turn into a quality rotation player, especially with Sean Mark’s history of finding gems later in the draft — for that, look no further than Rodions Kurucs or Jarrett Allen.
That is what Take Your Pick will focus on, prospects that are projected to fall around each of the Nets’ three picks and the role they could play on this playoff-hopeful squad. All information on where picks are projected to fall is sourced from Tankathon. Without further ado, let’s see the picks!
The Brooklyn Nets currently own three picks in the NBA Draft: their own first round pick, the Denver Nuggets’ first-round pick, and the New York Knicks’ second-round pick.
Brooklyn Nets’ 1st Round Pick — Projected No. 17
The Nets are struggling as of late. They have only won four of their last 13 games and are now projected to end up as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference according to FiveThirtyEight. That is bad news for their playoff chances, but good news for their pick!
Bol Bol, Oregon
19 years old — 7’3″ — 222 lbs
Bol Bol was in the conversation for being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft before Zion Williamson’s hype train got rolling and Bol’s season was ended early by a stress fracture in his left foot. With a 7-foot-5 wingspan and a 9-foot-7 standing reach, concerns on how he will return from injury are the only reason Bol would potentially fall far enough for the Nets to be able to grab him.
While he only played nine games at Oregon, Bol impressed in his limited time. He scored 25.4 points, grabbed 11.6 rebounds, and posted 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes. The absolutely eye-popping statistic is that he attempted 3.4 threes per game and connected on 52 percent of them. A skyscraper who will swat your shot and then run back and hit a three in your face? That sounds eerily similar to a former Nets legend to me.
7-foot, 3-inch Bol Bol loves to pull up from three 👌
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 21, 2018
The only real problem with Bol Bol — other than his injury — is a lack of strength. He is still scrawny and would need to put on serious muscle to hang with NBA centers or even power forwards. He is currently about 15 pounds lighter than Allen while having a few inches on him and that’s clearly been the second-year rim protector’s biggest weakness at the professional level so far.
So far in his tenure with the Nets, Marks has consistently taken the best player available when drafting, regardless of their fit on the team. If Bol Bol happens to slip to No. 17 overall, much like Michael Porter Jr. did last year with the Nuggets, then don’t be surprised if he ends up wearing a Nets hat at some point on draft night.
Denver Nuggets’ 1st Round Pick — Projected No. 27
The Nuggets have been the surprise team of the season and they’ve consistently sat in the first or second seed out the Western Conference for the majority of the year. While they have gone 5-5 in their last ten games, expect them to bounce back and finish the year strong behind great team play.
Shamorie Ponds, St. Johns
20 years old — 6’1″ — 175 lbs
Ponds is a homegrown talent hailing from Brooklyn, New York — so you can see where this is going already. His greatest strength is that he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, believe it or not. The only drawback is that as a junior, he is one of the older top-tier point guards in this class. He has used that extra time at St. John’s well though, increasing his steal and assist rate each year while keeping his turnover and foul rate about the same. And oh, boy, does he do a good job of that as Ponds averages the most steals per 36 minutes of any guard listed on Tankathon.
While his defense is stout, his offense is just as impressive. He has a 2.42 assist-to-turnover ratio and drops 19.5 points per game. Ponds is a threat from everywhere on the floor, shooting a decent 34.5 percent on 5.3 three-point attempts per game. He also has a knack for getting to the line, where he knocks down 84.3 percent of his attempts. With additional threats on an NBA roster, his 57.6 true shooting percentage could rise even higher.
— College Hoops Digest (@NCAAhoopsdigest) February 9, 2019
While the Nets do have a surplus of guards on their roster, only a handful can create their own shots. Shabazz Napier has a team option for the next season, so, if need be, Shamorie Ponds could be a third-string shot creator with some hometown flair.
New York Knicks’ 2nd Round Pick — Projected No. 32
The season’s continued-misery for the cross-town rival Knicks has been fun to watch. This reasoning is not just as cathartic revenge for years of jokes at the Nets’ expense, but also because every loss makes their second-round pick more valuable. You already root for the Knicks to lose, but now the Nets will benefit — how beautiful!
Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
21 years old — 6’8″ — 230 lbs
First of all, Isaiah Roby is a physical specimen. He has spent most of his time in college playing as a small forward/power forward, but his size, combined with his 7-foot-3 wingspan, would allow him to easily play the four in the Nets’ current system. He leverages his size along with his high basketball IQ especially well, particularly so on the defensive end — where he has averaged 2.0 blocks and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes. Roby would be able to front both forwards and centers in the NBA with an ability to switch onto most guards for short amounts of time.
On the offensive end, Roby is at his best when he can get the ball in the midrange. Once there, he can then decide to either drive — and finish with one of his many creative moves — or instead dish to an open teammate when the double comes. His assist numbers do not do him justice for just how good of a passer he is, just look:
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) January 8, 2017
Now, if it was all sunshine and roses then Roby would be a consensus lottery pick. The downside is that he has a tendency to foul too often, which is one of the only knocks against his otherwise stellar defense. He, too, is also a junior, which means that he will be one of the older players in the draft. The biggest thing going against him, though, is his outside shooting. Roby shoots 2.3 threes a game and only hits 31.7 percent of them, which isn’t terrible but definitely is not good. Last season, however, he hit over 40 percent while still attempting 1.3 a game, a decent mark.
With time under Kenny Atkinson’s staff, there is a good chance that he would be able to develop a consistent shot as his mechanics look to be sound. Ultimately, Isaiah Roby may not be a great shooter, but neither are any of the Nets’ current options at the four. Roby would at least offer a bigger body who could play stronger defense while contributing to the offense mostly through his passing. He is certainly a project, but one that could be worth the risk with the 32nd pick.
Have any targets you think the Nets should focus on? Let us know! We’ll be back closer to the draft.