SECAUCUS, N.J. — The NBA Draft Lottery went just like the Nets’ season. Despite their best intentions, they just couldn’t beat the odds.
So, the Nets will pick 11th in next month’s draft, as expected. But, they hope to have the same luck they had in last year’s draft when a big center they never expected to be there fell to them at No. 10 — Brook Lopez.
It’s not often you have that type of good fortune two years in a row, but the Nets can hope. The truth is this is not a deep draft. There’s power forward Blake Griffin and basically everyone else.
Sure, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio has been mentioned at No. 2 and UConn’s 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet at three. But, both have big question marks and after them there are questions about who’s going to be a player and who’s not.
For that reason, the Nets aren’t all broken up about not jumping into the top three. They don’t think there’s much difference between three, four, five and 11.
Don’t get me wrong. They would have loved the No. 1 pick, of course. The Nets’ frontcourt would be set for the next 10-12 years, if Griffin and Lopez reach their potential.
They will call the Clippers to see if there is any package the Clippers would accept, perhaps even including Devin Harris to make it enticing, for the No. 1 pick.
If the Nets wound up two or three they would have discussed whether to go with Thabeet or Arizona power forward Jordan Hill or Arizona State swingman James Harden. Who knows if either falls and how far?
But, if the Nets stay at 11, any number of players that they like probably will be available to them, whether it’s a point guard — this draft has plenty of them — a wing player or a power forward.
Think these names right now but things could change in the next month: Point guards Jonny Flynn of Syracuse, Ty Lawson of UNC and Jeff Teague of Wake Forest, Wake small forward James Johnson, Louisville swingman Terence Williams and undersized Pitt power forward DeJuan Blair.
Point guard, wing player and power forward are the Nets’ three biggest needs.
They want a third point guard for insurance reasons. They would like a small forward that can score consistently. Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell didn’t stand out last year and a power forward that isn’t good for 1-for-6, four points and three rebounds every night (Yi Jianlian was a big disappointment).
The Nets won’t find all three in this draft and likely will have to make trades to fill some of their needs, but they should have options.
“We definitely feel there will be some player picked at 11 or even lower than 11 that will be a really good player in the NBA,” Nets president Rod Thorn said. “That’s the way it is every year. We just have to get the right guy.”
That’s it. The Nets need to make sure they get the right guy this time.
Last year, they had arguably the best draft in the league when they took Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. They basically got three top 25 picks even though Douglas-Roberts went at No. 40.
The Nets have to have similar success this summer because you just don’t know what else they will be able to do in this economic climate, with their own financial issues and with many teams not looking to take back salary.
“I think it’s very important that you pick judiciously and you get somebody who can help you particularly when you pick as high as we are,” Thorn said.
This could be the only addition the Nets make this summer. It’s not likely because Thorn badly wants the Nets to be a playoff team, but it is possible.
The Nets are in a cost-cutting mode, like most teams. They’re not going to want to add too much salary, so look for trades rather than signings. But, they need a willing partner, and who knows if they’ll have to throw in the No. 11 pick to make Sean Williams or Simmons or Hassell or Josh Boone more attractive.
But, if they keep the pick, the Nets have to make sure they get the right guy, someone who makes the rotation. They have to have similar success as last year when the lottery didn’t go as they hoped but the draft sure did.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).