They never expected shooting guard Marshon Brooks to drop anywhere near them, but he did. And when he did, general manager Billy King did what he does best on draft night – he made a trade.
King now has been involved in draft-night trades in eight of 12 drafts he’s been part of as an executive.
The Nets targeted scoring Euro swingman Bojan Bogdanovic so strongly that they brought him in for a second, private workout, yesterday morning and saw enough of him to decide they were going to move up in the second round for him.
They liked the way Jordan Williams rebounded, especially in a difficult conference like the ACC, and had him on their wish list in the second round and got him.
“I think we had a solid draft,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said.
Johnson has to say that, but on the surface he’s right.
You don’t know how these guys are going to do when they join the Nets. But when you think about what the Nets needed - athleticism, a wing player, scoring, toughness, rebounding and depth – they had a solid draft.
As a Providence senior, Brooks averaged 24.6 points, ranking second in the NCAA behind just BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.
No one knows for sure why Brooks fell. He had an ankle injury that kept him out of some workouts, including one for the Nets. But when they saw him slipping, the Nets were trying to put together a deal to get him.
They sent the No. 27 pick and a 2014 second-round choice to Boston for Brooks’ draft rights. Officially, the Celtics selected Brooks 25th.
“He knows how to score,” King said. “He’s a proven scorer and I think at times last year we struggled to score.”
There are a lot of things the Nets like about Brooks.
He’s 22 and played four years for the Friars. He improved every year, with his scoring average jumping 10.4 points from his junior to his senior season and was able to create his own shot. Brooks also filled out the stat sheet, grabbing 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks.
You have to wait and see how this translates in the NBA. But it’s impressive that Brooks had some big games against some of the better teams in the Big East. He scored 52 against Notre Dame, had 43 and 10 boards against Georgetown, poured in 27 against Louisville and Syracuse and produced 25 and seven against UConn.
“Billy and the whole scouting department they got the guy that we needed,” Johnson said.
Bogdanovic is an intriguing prospect from Bosnia. He was one of the top scorers in Euroleague regular-season play for Cibona VIP.
Minnesota took him with the 31st pick and dealt him to the Nets for cash and a 2013 second-rounder. He may not be able to play here this year as he’s expected to play in Turkey. But from all indications, the Nets acquired a talented, skilled player.
Williams also seems to be a good pickup, especially as a second-rounder. He’s a hard worker, who has lost more than 20 pounds since his season at Maryland ended, and he’s a ferocious rebounder. He finished third in the nation, grabbing 11.8 rebounds per game.
“One thing that’s proven is if you rebound in college you’ll rebound in the pros,” King said. “Once we got MarShon we felt that if we get Jordan he will give us somebody who’s proven he knows how to rebound.”
The Nets didn’t become a championship or even a playoff contender with these moves, and they didn’t assure themselves that Deron Williams will sign on to stay. But they picked up three more assets that they hope will help them on the court or could be enticing in trades.
You can’t know for sure until you see the players and how they fit, but when you think of what the Nets wanted and needed heading into last night, they seemed to have a pretty solid draft.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)