2012 Draft Central - King Previews the Plan

June 27, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—A day before the 2012 NBA Draft, Nets General Manager Billy King met with media to discuss the team's outlook heading into this annual event. They enter holding the No. 57 overall selection.

Billy King

After months of scouting, the prospects have been ranked.

From No. 1 to No. 60, the Brooklyn Nets feel they've gotten the information needed to make a call on anyone they might select in tomorrow's 2012 NBA Draft, which they enter with the 57th overall pick and a willingness to move up if an opportunity presents itself.

"If we wanted to we can get into the first round," said Nets General Manager Billy King, in a Wednesday press conference at the PNY Center. "Now, 'Will we? I don't know. I didn't know if we were going to move up to get (guard MarShon Brooks) the day before the draft (last year) -- It just happened. And that's why we focus so hard on getting our rankings on how we'd take guys, not how we think it's going to go. If guys start falling, you sort of have things lined up: if I need a pick I know what it takes to get there. If you ask right now if we're going to get in the first round, I'd say no. But that could easily change tomorrow."

King said the price of picks traditionally starts high and gradually falls as the Draft approaches, and teams have already begun fielding offers for picks, which could include player swaps or cash buys. He did caution that the new $3 million yearly cap on cash transactions in trades might limit the overall number of deals tomorrow night, but that the Nets made a conscious decision to hang on to the full amount at this year's trade deadline, knowing it could come into play during the Draft.

The Nets didn't hold any official individual workouts, gleaning live information and conducting interviews during a league-wide Draft Combine they hosted in May, along with the NBA's Chicago Combine and another group workout in Minnesota. Their low existing pick limited their ability to invite higher-end prospects, but that hasn't stopped the team in the past: as King mentioned, Brooks didn't work out for the Nets last year, and they traded up to get him. Similarly, Rod Thorn selected Brook Lopez at No. 10 in 2008, sight unseen.

King believes this year's draft to feature "one great player and then a lot of very good players," and that is going to make for some tough decisions, leaving fans and media wondering how their team could've passed on a certain player. One of the reasons that's possible is due to the number of high-profile players (Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, etc.) who opted to return to school rather than enter last year's draft; their name recognition has enabled better familiarity and helped build the hype surrounding the 2012 event.

Many of the late-first- and second-round prospects are "tweeners" -- too slow or clumsy for one position, but too short for another -- or multi-position players with wide-ranging but limited skill sets. King said that teams can get too caught up in the five positions and sometimes need to analyze simply the best fit for their roster.

"It's about building a basketball team," King said. "Get guys that can fit and make you a better basketball team, because ultimately you're going to put five guys out there that are better than their five. And that's how you're going to win, whether it's four little guys and one big guy or (whatever). You just put five guys out there and play.

"That's how I was taught in college. I don't know what position I really played (at Duke). I just knew I was out on the court and I was not going to shoot the ball, ha."

Part of King's long-successful approach to second-round selections is developmental; he thinks it unlikely this year's pick will have an immediate impact. Jordan Williams, selected No. 36 out of Maryland last year, got off to a slow start, but turned things around following a mid-season assignment to the team's NBA D-League affiliate in Springfield and finished the year a rotation big.

Williams, who led the ACC in rebounding as a sophomore, proved King's axiom that rebounding translates well to the pro game. He lumps assists and three- or four-year players into that same category, with the caveat that selecting a younger player means viewing the pick as a long-term decision.

"I look at Lou Williams, when we drafted him (to the 76ers, out of high school)," King explained. "We put him in the program and gave him a three-year deal. It was more of like, 'Okay, we're going to treat him like he's a college player and develop him so by the time he's a junior he's ready to play."

Another, similar, option might be to "draft-and-stash" a foreign prospect, though many experts (like Senior Director of NBA Scouting Operations Ryan Blake) consider this to be a weak class of international talent. King said the Nets would consider it, but only if a player they're after is available.

With free agency looming, King knows the Draft tips off a flurry of offseason activity. He's looking forward to it, and molding the roster he's hoping to assemble.

"I enjoy the draft," King said. "It’s a fun day. There’s a lot of adrenaline and excitement going into it. Then I’m glad the free agency is right after that so we can get that going. So hopefully, by the middle of July, we have a pretty good idea of what our team is going to look like."

Where Went the 1st?

The Nets' first-round choice in this year's draft -- the No. 6 overall selection -- went to the Trail Blazers in the trade for Gerald Wallace, who opted out of his contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. King intends to offer Wallace a long-term contract, believing the veteran forward will offer more immediate impact than any player available where the Nets would be drafting.

And he doesn't feel any additional pressure to sign Wallace because of the exchange.

"We're not going to just do a deal," King said. "If the deal's not right for us, we won't do it. But I still feel it's a good deal and I think at the end of the day we'll figure it out and have (Gerald) back on the roster."

For more on the 2012 NBA Draft, check out Draft Central, presented by Party City.


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