Grading the Brooklyn Nets’ 2014 Draft Class
2nd Round, 44th Overall- Markel Brown, SG, Oklahoma State (B)
The Brooklyn Nets entered draft night without a pick, but they managed to buy three picks in the second round and with the first selection they took undersized shooting guard Markel Brown out of Oklahoma State. The Nets claim that they had Brown ranked in the top 20 of their draft board, which makes acquiring a pick and selecting him at 44 a no-brainer. Brown had the highest vertical of any player at the draft combine and is one of the best athletes in this class. His highlight reel dunks are all over YouTube and he’s made his mark as a high flyer, but his game is more well-rounded than that. Brown is only 6-foot-4, but he has a wingspan five inches longer which allows him to guard and shoot over bigger twos. Brown is also an accomplished outside shooter, with range all the way out to the NBA three. He seems to have fallen because of his size, but the Nets believe, with his other tools, Brown can still be an effective player in the league. He’s a decent bet to make the roster out of training camp, especially if the Nets can’t retain Alan Anderson.
2nd Round, 59th Overall- Xavier Thames, PG/SG, San Diego State (C+)
Xavier Thames was one of the key players on an impressive San Diego State team this past season, leading the team in scoring and spearheading a run to the Sweet 16. Thames, like Brown, is an undersized guard who can score. While Brown is more of a traditional SG, Thames is smaller and can play a little bit of point, but he’s not a great distributor and his shoot-first mentality isn’t ideal for the position. Thames is also a good shooter and makes a habit of finding his way into the lane among taller players, but it’s questionable as to whether his skill set can translate to the next level. Thames also has a wingspan that belies his height which makes him a good on-ball defender, but it remains to be seen if he can stay with quicker guards in the NBA. If Shaun Livingston leaves in free agency, the Nets may look for a more accomplished backup to Deron Williams, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for Thames to beat out Jorge Gutierrez or Marquis Teague for the third PG spot.
2nd Round, 60th Overall- Cory Jefferson, PF, Baylor (C+)
Cory Jefferson was another intriguing selection by the Nets who obtained this pick from the San Antonio Spurs and made Jefferson the 2014 draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant”, given to the last pick in the draft. Jefferson was thought to be rated higher on team boards, but he slipped due to concerns about, what else, his size. While Jefferson is a solid 6-foot-9, he has to pack on some more muscle and weight if he’s to transition to a true stretch four at the next level. Jefferson is another high-flying athlete capable of making the nightly highlights, but he also added an outside game last season where he surprised everyone by shooting 41 percent from behind the arc. Jefferson’s questions come on defense, where his effort isn’t always ideal and he gets caught out of position from time to time, but his athleticism and wingspan make him a solid shot blocker for a four. With Andray Blatche likely headed elsewhere in free agency and the Nets needing someone to spell Kevin Garnett if he returns, Jefferson could find himself a spot on the roster if he can impress in camp.
Coming into the night with not one pick, Nets general manager Billy King did a good job using his owner’s seemingly unlimited wealth, parlaying his available cash into three fairly intriguing prospects. The theme of the night seems to be athletic players who fell because they were undersized. Although no one knows for sure whether any of these players will actually make the roster, even if one becomes a regular rotational player, the Nets will look back on the night as a success.
Aggregate grade- C+