Brooklyn Nets: 5 options for pick No. 22 in 2017 NBA Draft

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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Which five prospects could be potential selections for the Brooklyn Nets with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft?

It has been quite some time since the Brooklyn Nets were considered contenders and at this rate it doesn’t look like they’ll get back to that point anytime soon. Brooklyn finished the 2016-17 NBA season with a 20-62 record and is hoping to take a step forward in its rebuilding process next season.

Taking that step will depend entirely on the upcoming offseason, especially the 2017 NBA Draft. Brooklyn did not retain its own pick, which would have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. That pick was traded to the Boston Celtics in the 2013 deal that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets.

Despite missing out on the top overall pick, they still hold the No. 22 overall pick courtesy of that pick swap with Boston.

While the Nets may not end up getting a superstar with their first selection, there are still quite a few players who could make an impact moving forward. There are at least five players that would be a perfect fit for the Nets at No. 22.

All of that being said, which five prospects could be potential selections for the Nets with the 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft?

Mar 23, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Purdue Boilermakers forward Caleb Swanigan (50) works around Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) during the first half in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

5. Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue

One potential option for the Nets would be Purdue star Caleb Swanigan. He was one of the best players in college basketball last season.

Swanigan doesn’t have top-notch athleticism, but he makes up for that with hard work and heart. He has a solid all-around offensive game and is an absolute stud on the glass. Brooklyn could use a talent like Swanigan in the frontcourt alongside Brook Lopez.

Last season at Purdue, Swanigan averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He stands in at 6’9″ and 250 pounds, which is NBA-ready size at the power forward position. Brooklyn would be getting an immediate impact player if they selected him.

Swanigan has seen his name rise and fall in draft rankings over the past few weeks. There is no telling where he will end up going, but Brooklyn seems to be a very solid landing spot for him.

Feb 28, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Jawun Evans (1) plays defense against the Iowa State Cyclones at James H. Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Cowboys 86 to 83. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State

If the Nets decide to go with a point guard, Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans might make sense. He is projected to go in the early part of the second round in most mock drafts, but Brooklyn could take him at No. 22.

Last season for the Cowboys, Evans averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. Evans is without question capable of becoming a starting point guard at the next level. Jeremy Lin is projected as the Nets’ starting point guard next season, but Evans could make for a lethal backup.

Evans is a top-notch playmaker and has no trouble getting into the paint against opposing defenses. He will have to work on finishing in traffic once he gets to the paint, but that won’t be too much of an issue when working with an NBA coaching staff.

Brooklyn could trade back and acquire an extra pick if they want to draft Evans, but he certainly should be considered a potential option at No. 22.

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Mar 12, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward D.J. Wilson (5) celebrates in the closing seconds of the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship game at Verizon Center. The Wolverines won 71-56. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. D.J. Wilson, SF/PF, Michigan

Even though D.J. Wilson isn’t hyped up as a top prospect, he has a lot of potential at the next level. He showed off his full offensive skill-set in the NCAA Tournament and saw his draft stock rise dramatically because of those performances.

Wilson ended the season averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, but his game should translate into much more in the future. Brooklyn cannot afford to pass up on talent and there is no question that Wilson has potential through the roof.

Standing in at 6’10”, Wilson has a lot of length for a small forward, although he may end up playing the power forward position. He would fit in nicely as a stretch-4 for the Nets, to help take traffic out of the lane for Brook Lopez to work in the post.

There are a couple better options for the Nets to consider ahead of Wilson, but he would be a nice fit in Brooklyn should they choose to go in that direction.

Feb 23, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins guard T.J. Leaf (22) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

Lonzo Ball may be the biggest name coming out of UCLA in this draft class, but T.J. Leaf should not be forgotten. He was a huge part of UCLA’s success this season and is going to make some team very happy in a few years as their starting power forward.

Last season with the Bruins, Leaf averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He was efficient in the post and is without question an underrated prospect due to the amount of talented frontcourt players in this draft class.

Leaf is just 20 years old heading into the draft and has loads of unlocked potential to work his way into. Some compare Leaf to Nick Collison, who had a long NBA career due to his rebounding and toughness, but Leaf actually brings perimeter shooting to the table as well.

The Nets may decide to pass on Leaf if he is available at No. 22, but more than likely they would gladly select him if he does end up falling that far in the draft.

Jan 2, 2016; Lincoln, NE, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward O.G. Anunoby (3) leads a break against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Indiana defeated Nebraska 79-69. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

1. O.G. Anunoby, SF/PF, Indiana

There is one player that stands out above the rest as a perfect fit for the Nets at No. 22. That player would be Indiana’s O.G. Anunoby.

Anunoby’s draft stock has fluctuated quite a bit throughout the draft process as well. Due to a knee injury that he suffered last season, some teams have begun shying away from him in this deep draft class. That being said, there are very few prospects who appear to have superstar potential on both ends of the court.

Brooklyn could use an athlete like Anunoby who can lock up on the defensive end of the court. He is also a top-notch slasher and will open up the offense for his teammates.

Anunoby averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds last season at IU. His numbers may not jump off the charts, but he has unlimited defensive potential and would be the perfect pick for the Nets. Draft Express’ latest mock draft has him going to Brooklyn at No. 22.

Do you think one of these five players would be the right fit for the Nets? If not, who do you think they should take at No. 22? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

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