Early Draft Outlook: What Should Nets Do With Their Two First-Round Picks?

Feb 19, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets new general manager Sean Marks speaks to the media during a press conference before a game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the Brooklyn Nets now holding two first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, who should Sean Marks target with both picks in the 20s?

After securing an additional first-round pick before the NBA trade deadline, in which the Brooklyn Nets sent shooting guard Bojan Bodganovic and power forward Chris McCullough to the Washington Wizards in exchange for power forward Andrew Nicholson and a 2017 first-round pick, General manager Sean Marks now has some decisions to make entering the NBA Draft.

The Nets GM, who is now in his first full-season with the team, has quickly received praise around the league for making smart and savvy moves while attempting to dig the Nets out of their “asset-hole” after former GM Billy King executed a trade with the Celtics back in 2013.

After swapping picks with the Celtics, the Nets will now hold two first-round picks in the 20s, adding another asset for them to use come draft time.

Marks recently spoke with the media immediately after the 3p.m. deadline on February 23, in which he was non-committal with his use of the picks. He stated a possible desire to move up in the draft or to possibly be aggressive in who they select.

While both picks certainly won’t make up for the fact that the Celtics (if the ping-pong balls go their way) will most likely have the No. 1 overall pick, Marks has proven in his short stint as a GM to be aggressive in going after “their guys,” players they are confident in succeeding in Brooklyn.

One example is rookie standout Caris LeVert, who continues to show his place in today’s NBA. The 6-foot-7 guard from Michigan, who the Nets selected with the first round pick acquired in 2016 for Thaddeus Young, has been quite impressive in his rookie stint.

With a natural vision for the game, LeVert easily finds his spots, whether in transition or running the Nets motion offense.

So, after finding what seems to be a steal in the 2016 draft, Sean Marks and company have their work cut out for them. After acquiring the Wizards’ pick, the Nets now are looking to find a similar under-the-radar type of guy in this year’s draft. Here are some options I think the Nets can look at:

1. T.J. Leaf, UCLA  —  6’10”,  220 lbs.

UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf has been quite impressive in his 2017 campaign, averaging 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. What impresses me most about Leaf is his ability to get to his spots on the floor, knocking down that elbow jumper with ease.

He’s also shown signs of knocking down the three-ball, working on the pick-and-pop game with teammate and lottery pick Lonzo Ball. Leaf is the stretch 4 the Nets need to space out the offense. While he can run in transition, he’s also shown signs of having a solid low-post game.

2. OG  Anunoby, Indiana – 6’8″,  230 lbs.

Despite being out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury suffered on Jan. 20, Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby is an intriguing prospect for the Nets.

While many may hesitate with players coming off season-ending injuries, the Nets can’t afford to be cautious and target players like Anunoby. While still raw offensively, Anunoby has shown to be a long, athletic wing with a NBA body that can lockdown multiple positions.

Ideally, OG is the prototypical 3-and-D type of player in the NBA who can succeed on athleticism alone. While still needing to develop his game offensively, it’s the perfect project for Marks and Atkinson to invest in.

3. Terrance Ferguson, Adelaide 36ers (Australia) – 6’7″, 185 lbs/

Sean Marks has said all along that the Nets would be expansive in their scouting of players. Whether they were from the D-League or overseas, Marks had no limits to where he’d find his talent.

Well, if Marks is looking for a young prospect with offensive prowess, then Terrance Ferguson may be his guy. Currently playing in Australia for the Adelaide 36ers, Ferguson as the size and explosiveness to be a bonafide scorer at the next level.

While having an average frame (185 pounds), Ferguson has long strides, making it easier to attack the basket and pass by defenders. He also has shown a quick first step once catching the ball, proving his length and quickness can earn him minutes in the NBA.

If Marks is looking for someone with a knack for scoring, Ferguson may be his guy.

The Nets have a lot to decide before the June draft. What will they do with Brook Lopez, who has survived, yet again, another trade deadline? And, how will Marks look to shape his team in free agency?

Well, it all starts at the draft and we’re hopeful he’ll take fliers on guys with tremendous potential for Atkinson and his staff to work with.

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