June 20, 2023 | 22:39
The offseason usually starts heating up within 48 hours of the NBA draft, and this year is no exception. The perception around the league is that there will be plenty of trade activity, and that could include the Nets.
It’s uncertain if they have a specific target in mind or if their scouts are convinced the talent level will drop off dramatically after the first 15 or so. But what is crystal clear is that the Nets are determined to move up from at least one of their two picks near the bottom of the first round.
The Nets currently have the 21st, 22nd and 51st picks. But after reports they are looking to move up, ESPN said Tuesday the Nets are “extremely active” in trade talks. And after The Post reported that Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith have sparked interest, The Ringer confirmed it this week.
At least four teams between picks No. 10 and 16 — Dallas, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Utah — are open to the idea of a trade. How receptive they would be to whatever the Nets have to offer is another story.
While moving up is a possibility, one or both of these first-round picks could also be packaged with O’Neale or Finney-Smith to acquire a veteran.
A source told The Post that the Nets rejected an offer of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith last season, while O’Neale reportedly could have picked up a first. What is their value now?
The Nets have landed expected first-rounders Brandin Podziemski, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Maxwell Lewis, Colby Jones and Andre Jackson, as well as potential first-rounders such as Terquavion Smith, Jalen Wilson and Jordan Walsh.
General manager Sean Marks personally flew to scout Rayan Rupert in Australia and New Zealand, and the Nets have been linked to Leonard Miller, Noah Clowney and Keyonte George.
The Post spoke with ESPN draft experts Fran Fraschilla and Jay Bilas about several prospects the Nets were working out.
Brandin Underground, SG, Santa Clara
Bilas: “He’s only 6-4, but he can really rebound. And he has really good range as a shooter, handles it pretty well, he can score off the dribble and make plays for himself and other people… He’s one of the better shooters in the draft. … He tested really well on the combine.”
Maxwell Lewis, SF, Pepperdine
Bilas: “He’s got good length, he’s got like a 7-foot wingspan. I think he can be a really good scorer, long, athletic. He’s not efficient yet, but he’s a three-level scorer. Good passer and good rebounder … but his efficiency needs to improve. He turns it too much. You take more of the potential.”
Colby Jones, SF, Xavier
Fraschilla: “He’s a very durable, strong wing player. Multi-skilled, can handle the ball and play a little bit forward. Got the NBA frame physical. Shooting has gotten better, but I don’t consider him a knockdown shooter. … I considers Colby a jack of all trades.
Terquavion Smith, SG, North Carolina State
Fraschilla: “He’s a super athlete. He reminds me of Bones Hyland from VCU; super-athletic kid who could be a little bit stronger physically. He’s an elite athlete, even at the NBA level. He’s got to be more a knockdown shooter. … Not quite polished in terms of versatile skills.”
Ryan Rupert, NZ Breakers
Bilas: “He’s a high-level defender. But he just needs to continue to develop his offense, because he can do it; and he’s good in transition, but he hasn’t proven himself yet. … He’s only 19, he needs to improve in half-court situations and be a more consistent shooter.”
Leonard Miller, F, G-League Ignite
Fraschilla: “He’s not as athletic as Nic Claxton, but he’s a big forward who’s more of a 4 but has some playmaking and ball-handling skills, and he helped himself stay in the G-League for two year. … Like Nic, they’re looking at a kid to get two years on.”
Bilal Coulibaly, SG/SF, Metropolitans 92
Bilas: “He has like a 7-1, 7-2 wingspan. That length really matters. He has a good stroke and a good feel for the game. He’s one of the better cutters in the draft, he moves without it. He’s just not a goalscorer yet. He’s barely 18, so he hasn’t reached his full potential. He is not a shot creator yet.”