Grading every Nets pick from the 2021 NBA Draft

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Cameron Thomas/Day'Ron Sharpe Treated Image Nets
Cameron Thomas/Day'Ron Sharpe Treated Image Nets

The Nets started 2021 draft night in a move-making mood, as they dealt backup guard Landry Shamet to the Phoenix Suns for point guard Jevon Carter and the 29th pick in the draft. The move gave the Nets five total picks in the draft, two in the first round and three in the second round. With these selections, the Nets have some talent to add to the back-end of their roster as the luxury tax eats away at their roster flexibility.

Here’s a look at how the Nets made out in the draft and what impact these draft picks could have on the team’s immediate and long-term future...

No. 27 pick: Cam Thomas (LSU)

At just 19, Thomas was one of the best scorers in the draft. A consistent scorer with an unlimited range, Thomas led the SEC (23.0 points) in scoring this past season. Thomas will need to get better on the defensive end in the future and his shot selection will be an interesting point of conversation (he shot just 32.5 percent from three on 8.5 three point attempts per 40 minutes) but his offensive contributions could be useful for what will likely be a thin Nets roster.

A solid shot creator out of the pick and roll, Thomas will get reps with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all likely having days and games off throughout the season. Adding Thomas allows Brooklyn to find a fill-in for the departed Shamet on a cost-controlled rookie scale deal for four years.

Grade: B

No. 29 pick: Day’Ron Sharpe (North Carolina)

Center was a position of weakness for the Nets last season. Though Nicolas Claxton showed growth, Brooklyn opted to go small often, using Blake Griffin, Jeff Green and Durant at the five in crunch time and the postseason. With DeAndre Jordan’s future murky at best, taking a center in Sharpe made sense. From the University of North Carolina, Sharpe slimmed down during the draft process, losing about 20 pounds.

Sharpe averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes with the Tar Heels. For a Nets team that finished 22nd in offensive rebound rate, Sharpe could help on that end. He led the nation in offensive rebound percentage (18.1 percent). Though he has limitations offensively and some mock drafts had him in the second round, the 6-foot-11 center can eat up some minutes as a developmental project that has great upside.

Grade: B+

No. 44 pick: Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine)

Edwards provides size as a combo forward for Brooklyn. He shot 39.5 percent from the three-point line over his three years at Pepperdine. A quality athlete, Edwards averaged 1.2 blocks last season for the Waves. Edwards could be an intriguing option on the perimeter and in the paint as a versatile forward. Outside of Durant and Green, Brooklyn lacked true impact defenders that could switch across multiple positions. The 20-year old Edwards could have a huge impact.

Grade: A-

No. 49 pick: Marcus Zegarowski (Creighton)

The Nets love undersized guards as evidenced by the presence of guards Chris Chiozza and Mike James. They continued their appreciation for small guards with the drafting of 6-foot-2 Zegarowski. An honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, Zegarowski was one of the best shooters in the nation. The guard from Creighton led the Big East with 80 three-pointers made and shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc. The 23-year-old guard can provide spacing and create his own shot, but it remains to be seen what his role would be.

Grade: C+

No. 59 pick: RaiQuan Gray (Florida State)

Though he’s not in the best shape of anyone in the draft, Gray is one of the more unique players in the draft. A 6-foot-8, 269-pound point forward, Gray nearly shot 56 percent from the field on twos while averaging 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Most of the damage Gray does comes in the paint, so improving his outside shooting will be important if he ever sees the court with Brooklyn’s core players.

Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B

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