2011 NBA Draft Results, Grades: New Jersey Nets

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By Cory Bernstein

What a night in Newark. It’s clear that I was having fun and cheering on the home team (although there were a lot more Knick fans than Net fans). Yes, that crazy guy in the Deron Williams jersey is me, and as I said in the Draft Preview column, there was no way that I would not be as loud and obnoxious as possible.

My friends and I heckled and embarrassed an innocent guy sitting below us in a Chris Bosh jersey so much that he took the jersey off and his Heat hat. On a second thought, anyone in a Chris Bosh Heat jersey deserves to be heckled, and I don’t feel bad at all. What mattered most to me and all of Nets Nation was the two picks the Nets had in the draft. They took two players who are very different, but both could have a huge impact on the Nets next season.

MarShon Brooks - True story. Before me and my friends got to our seats last night, we went to get some extremely overpriced and crappy food. While we were getting ketchup, we saw the shadow of a tall guy in a suit. Immediately, we recognized him as MarShon Brooks. Most players at the Draft would just continue to walk by people yelling their name and asking for autographs, but Brooks was the complete opposite. He politely said hi to my friends and even broke a smile and nodded when my friend Jonah, (top right corner of the picture) a Knicks fan, told him he wanted to see him play in New York.

Well, Brooks may not be a Knickerbocker next season, but he will be suiting up for the team on the other side of the Hudson River. Originally drafted by the Celtics with the 25th pick, Brooks came to the Nets in a brilliant Boston trade that forced the Nets to swap first round picks and surrender a  2nd round pick in 2014. Brooks fills the biggest need of the Nets, and that is to put the ball in the basket. Deron Williams will love passing to this 6’5 product from Providence. He was expected to go in the late teens of the draft, but probably fell a few picks because of his poor defense.

Brooks was forced last season to do just about everything on offense for the Friars, and this can account for why he was so bad at defense. He averaged twenty-five points a game last season, leading the entire Big East in points. Brooks was also forced to average over seventeen shots a contest in his Senior year, quite simply because everyone else on his team was terrible. With the Nets, he can use his ridiculously long wingspan (Jay Bilas nods happily) to focus more on defense, as he does not need to take as many shots as he did last year.

I watched a Providence - Georgetown game earlier in the year (I know, I have no life) where Brooks just had “the look”. I can’t explain it, but Brooks just carried himself in a way that you just knew he was going to be successful. Like just about every other game this season, Brooks put up 43 points against the Hoyas, but Providence still lost. But, Brooks was the real winner of the game. He showed me, and every other person watching that game, that MarShon Brooks could be a very good NBA player. I said in my Draft Preview that unless the Nets traded up they would not be able to get him, and this is for good reason. Brooks can finish at the hoop like few could in college basketball this season, and rebounds really well for a guard. He is a wing that will be able to play both sides of the ball well, and that is exactly what the Nets needed in this draft.


Jordan Williams - I don’t know as much about Williams as I do about Brooks, mainly because Brooks is from the Big East and I am a Syracuse fan. But, I do know that Williams was great for the Terps last year, averaging a double-double per game, and grabbing the third most rebounds per game in the entire NCAA (11.8). As a 6-10 power forward, he carried a bad Maryland team to a not-so-bad 19-14 record. It seems like Williams is a bit of a tweener, as I have no idea whether he projects to be a power forward or a center in the NBA. But, it’s clear that he is great value for the Nets in the second round.

Last year, the Nets struggled to find a back-up big man once Derrick Favors was traded. Johan Petro doesn’t really fit the spot, and it was pretty clear early in the season that he would be lucky to make the rotation. Williams could provide the Nets with a backup big man who could play either position down low. His toughness and great rebounding is something that Brook Lopez doesn’t have, and the two could work together well on offense. But, defensively they may be two slow to have an effective partnership. I don’t see Williams as a replacement for Kris Humphries, but a player who was drafted to fill a need in the roster. I do think that Jeremy Tyler would have been a better pick. He has much more potential and is more of a power forward. That being said, I can understand why Billy King and Avery Johnson would rather pick Williams, who is a much more proven entity and a safer pick for The Nets.


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