The Brooklyn Nets don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to drafting and player development, especially in recent years. The team traded the 27th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a deal to open up cap space to sign free agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. In 2014, Brooklyn sent its 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-round picks, along with five players, to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, D.J. White, and Jason Terry.
As a result, Brooklyn has picked outside the top 20 in the draft since 2010, when it selected Derrick Favors with the third overall pick. The team has had varied success with its later picks. Players selected in recent drafts are still developing, while one has become a fixture in the Nets’ line-up, and another has yet to play in the NBA. Below are the six most recent Nets’ draft picks:
Brooklyn selected Greenville, South Carolina, native Nicolas Claxton with the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Considered a first-round talent by many, Claxton is a 6-foot-11 power forward who spent the prior two seasons at the University of Georgia. He has a wingspan in excess of 7 feet and a 36-inch vertical leap in addition to impressive ball-handling skills relative to his size. As a sophomore at Georgia, Claxton averaged 13 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. He also registered a relatively impressive 30.2 three-point field goal percentage on 86 attempts.
Claxton signed a three-year contract worth around $4.2 million dollars with the Nets in the off-season but has struggled to earn playing time in his rookie season. He is behind both DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen on the depth chart and, as such, has been limited to only 183 minutes of action through 14 games. He contributed 62 points, 43 rebounds, 16 assists, and eight blocks in that time.
When the Nets dealt its 27th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to the Clippers, it received a 2020 lottery-protected first-round pick and the 56th overall pick in the 2019 draft. Brooklyn used the latter pick to select UCLA guard Jaylen Hands. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound native of San Diego, California, averaged 14.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in his sophomore season in 2018-19. He has yet to play for the Nets and is developing his game with the team’s Long Island G-League affiliate. Hands averaged 13.2 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game through 27 games with Long Island.
Selected 29th overall by the Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft, Dzanan Musa is a 20-year-old native of Bosnia and Herzegovina who, prior to being drafted, played for Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia. The 6-foot-9, 217-pound small forward played only 39 minutes in nine games with the Nets in 2018-19 but has been used more prominently in 2019-20. He averaged 4.3 points through 32 games as of January 28 and recorded a career-best 14 points in 29 minutes in Brooklyn’s 123-111 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on January 2, 2020.
Unlike Musa, Rodions Kurucs has taken a step back in his development in 2019-20. The 40th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft played in 63 games as a rookie in 2018-19 and averaged 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game. His playing time has dropped to 13.5 minutes per game in 2019-20, while his points and rebounds per game have regressed to 4.7 and 2.5, respectively. The one area in which he has shown improvement is three-point shooting; he shot 31.5 percent from three-point range on 184 attempts last season and was shooting at a 46.8 percent success rate on 47 attempts this season as of January 28.
Unquestionably the most successful of Nets draft picks in recent years, Jarrett Allen was selected 22nd overall out of the University of Texas in the 2017 NBA Draft. He started 31 of the 72 games in which he played in his rookie season and started 80 games the following year. The 6-foot-11 center has been particularly effective in 2019-20. As of January 28, he was averaging career-best marks in minutes (27.2), points (11.4), rebounds (9.8), and field goal percentage (64.4). Nets coach Kenny Atkinson called Allen “one of the best centers in the league” on January 18.
With the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Nets took a chance on Aleksander Vezenkov, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward from Cyprus. He has yet to be signed by the Nets, but the team still holds his rights. Vezenkov has spent the past two seasons with Olympiacos in Greece playing under former NBA head coach David Blatt. Primarily regarded for his shooting ability, he was averaging an impressive 54.4 percent field goal rate through 19 games with Olympiacos in the 2019-20 season.