Nets Kick Tires on 3&D Wing, Local Big Man Ahead of 2023 NBA Draft

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Head coach Jacque Vaughn of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets are gearing up in their preparations for the 2023 NBA Draft on June 22, kicking the tires on several prospects in the last several days. Most recently they held workouts for Furman wing Jalen Slawson and Rutgers big man Cliff Omoruyi.

Slawson is a 6-foot-7 fifth-year player who averaged 15.6 points on 55.6% shooting including knocking down 39.4% of his looks from beyond the arc.

He also added 7.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals for the Paladins this season.

The scouting report on him from NBA Draft Room paints the picture of his limitations and the development he has already achieved:

Slawson is a well-built 6-7 forward who has had a long and productive college career and put himself on the NBA draft radar.

The 5th year senior has developed into a steady all around player and impacts all aspects of the game.

Has become a good 3pt shooter, although more of a low volume shooter.

Doesn’t have great footstep for a wing and could struggle to create separation at the next level

Is a high IQ defender who makes a lot of plays on that end of the floor. Has the strength to guard in the post but the footstep issue limits his ability to guard 1’s and 2’s.

While he’s not the most explosive athlete, he does use his length well.

Not only does that show up in the number of steals and blocks he tallied last season. But it also shows up when he decides to attack the basket.

Over the last two years, he’s averaged 15.1 points on 61.8% true shooting with 7.2 boards, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals – numbers strikingly similar to his production this past season highlighting the consistency he’s displayed. This past season he helped lead Furman to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1980 and for just the seventh time in the school’s 102-year history.

Despite his super-senior status and perhaps low national profile, Slawson’s numbers are elite.

He’s even put himself on par with the likes of Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum, Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George, and the Nets’ own budding frontman, Mikal Bridges.

Brooklyn Monitoring Rutgers Big Man

The Nets worked out Omoruyi — who played his college ball roughly one hour away from the Barclays Center at Rutgers — two days before Slawson. Omoruyi averaged 13.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks for the Scarlet Knights last season.

Listed at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, he could provide some size and nastiness for Brooklyn who has a need for just that.

Omoruyi is bigger than starter Nic Claxton and a better defender than Day’Ron Sharpe.

Omoruyi is the second big man the Nets have worked out this offseason. They also held a private session for Auburn big man Johni Broome, per the player himself. This is all in line with sentiments expressed by general manager Sean Marks during his end-of-season media availability.

“Without a doubt, we need to make some changes in terms of adding some size,” Marks said via the Nets’ official YouTube channel on April 23. “I think [head coach Jacque Vaughn] said it last night, add a little nastiness…so we’ll add a little bit of a bit of that, right. Add a little bit of the Brooklyn grit that we’ve talked about for sort of six years.”

It is indeed a long-standing issue for the Nets who ranked 29th in total rebounding during the regular season and were routinely outdone in second-chance points.

Former NBA GM Intrigued by Bama Big Man

Another option the Nets could look to add is Alabama big man Noah Clowney, a 6-foot-10, 210-pounder who averaged 9.8 points and 7.9 boards for the Crimson Tide this past season.

“In a similar realm, I’ve long been intrigued by Alabama big man Noah Clowney, who is long and can shoot,” writes former Memphis Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger, now of The Athletic. “He’s not ready yet after just one year in the SEC, but he could be a Claxton-ish pick for the future frontcourt.”

Claxton – who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs 215 pounds – is heading into the final year of his contract. But it’s not as though Omoruyi is going to usurp him. In many ways, he is more of the stylistic opposite of Sharpe.

“Cliff is a high-level athlete that has improved each and every year. He has some elite qualities as a college player which include his physical attributes, his defensive presence, his rebounding, and his quick twitch bounce,” former NBA scout Michael Vandegarde told Rutgers Wire on March 20. “His NBA future is a question mark, as Cliff is limited as an offensive player besides dunks and putbacks.”

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