With the future of the 2019-20 NBA season up in the air, it’s time to start looking towards the draft. There will be some very strong options when the Brooklyn Nets make the 20th overall pick.
The Brooklyn Nets don’t own their own first-round pick at No.16, but they do own the Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick at No. 20. While there is a possibility of the selection being part of a package for a third star to join with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, let’s operate under the assumption that they keep the pick. Here are three non-lottery players that would be excellent draft choices.
Paul Reed, DePaul Blue Demons
In his junior season at DePaul, Paul Reed put up a modest 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. A bit undersized at 6-9, the young power forward still has the tools to be a successful NBA player.
What really stands out is his defense. Reed recorded an eye-popping 1.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per game. His defensive instincts are some of the best in the entire 2020 draft class. The Nets could certainly use a potential lockdown defender when going up against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons.
Reed’s shot needs work as he’s hit on just 33 percent of his threes throughout college. But his 74 percent mark from the free throw line indicates that his shot isn’t fundamentally broken. Brooklyn would be wise to take a chance on Reed if he’s still available at 20.
Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt guard/forward hybrid Aaron Nesmith was enjoying a breakout sophomore year before suffering a season-ending foot injury after just 14 games. However, his numbers in that short period of time are incredibly impressive. This season, the 20-year old averaged 23.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game on 51% shooting. The best part? He was shooting 52% from three, on just under 9 attempts per game.
With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant likely dominating the ball, Brooklyn should find as many off-ball scorers as possible. Sharpshooter Joe Harris set to hit free agency, so the Nets need another three-point ace in case he leaves. Nesmith definitely fits the bill.
Tre Jones, Duke Blue Devils
Kyrie is set as the Brooklyn Nets starting point guard. With Spencer Dinwiddie on the roster as well, it seems foolish to select a point guard. However, Dinwiddie has actually played 57 percent of his minutes as a shooting guard this year and it has coincided with the best season of his career.
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Irving, a former Duke star, might also have an affinity for current Duke sophomore Tre Jones. Kenny Atkinson’s surprise firing just before DeAndre Jordan was inserted into the starting lineup, makes it clear that the Nets two superstars have some influence in front office decision-making.
Jones has also improved after his good-but-not-great rookie year, averaging more points and assists per game while raising his three-point percentage up to 36 percent from the dismal 26 percent he shot in 2018-29. Thus far the 20-year-old hasn’t faltered under Duke’s national spotlight, which is going to be critical if he ends up playing in New York.
The Nets could look very different around this time next year. If they decide to hold onto their first-round pick, there are several talented young players that could thrive alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.