Brian ErniWhat a difference a year makes. Last Draft Day, the Brooklyn faithful was eagerly putting together their dream lineup. On Thursday, they saw their team bolster their summer league and D-League depth. But the moves made by Billy King were not inconsequential. In fact, they were measured, and looked toward a future without some Brooklyn’s brightest stars.
When the Nets made their big moves last summer, the fear was that the future was mortgaged in order to create a team of admittedly star-studded, but older veteran players. King looked to combat that with his moves on Thursday night, and took advantage of the fact that this year’s draft was deep. He netted three picks without giving up any of his trade chips, and instead, spent merely cash to land Markel Brown, Corey Jefferson, and Xavier Thames all in the second round. With that, he signaled that the Nets were acting in self awareness and adding some much-needed athleticism.
Let’s face it: each of the Nets’ stars have flaws, ranging from shaky bills of health to being at the wrong end of the spectrum of age. But when you scan the scouting reports on Brooklyn’s selections, they read like a what’s what of combine skills. “[A] wiry strong power forward prospect with high level run-jump athleticism,” NBADraft.net wrote of Baylor product Jefferson. “[An] outstanding athlete with incredible leaping ability,” they said of Brown. These are skills the Nets need, and not just for organizational depth.
We saw last season how an in flux of energy from an unlikely or scrappier source can help, especially down the stretch. Jorge Gutierrez was key in giving some of the Nets stars some breathing room at the end of the season, and provided a spark when he was in the lineup. That’s not to say that anyone that became a Brooklyn Net on Draft Day will necessarily crack the lineup, but it seems obvious that King took players he thought complimented his existing lineup. Their highest pick, Brown, is an incredible athlete. Are there concerns about him being a tweener? Yes, but at this time last year, everyone thought Mason Plumlee would never learn how to play defense. There’s a good ceiling here on this pick.
So with these moves, highlighted by Brown, the Nets getting closer to being a little more spry. And as young, re-building teams start to develop, they’re going to need it. The first step, though: Let’s see if anyone can take a step forward this summer.