Nets Projected to Draft G League Ignite Star, Potential Future Top-10 Pick

Sean Marks, Brooklyn Nets

Getty General Manager Sean Marks of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets have known their draft slot for some time having made the playoffs, albeit only enjoying a brief stay.

What we didn’t – and still don’t – know is just who they will take in the 2023 NBA draft.

We do, however, have an updated set of projections now that the order is set with the Draft Lottery taking place on May 16. Brooklyn currently has picks Nos. 21 and 22, putting them in a position to perhaps take some chances, writes ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony.

“The Nets have one of the longest, most positionless rosters in the NBA, with size and versatility at every position,” Givony writes in his latest mock draft. “Adding a 6-10 wing in Leonard Miller — who is coming off an incredibly productive G League season in which he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a 19-year-old — could make sense in that vein. His perimeter shooting, decision-making and defensive consistency are still in need of refinement, but it’s hard to find teenagers with the type of length, activity and scoring instincts Miller brings.”

Miller is a 6-foot-10 wing with a 7-foot-2 wingspan who averaged 18.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game for the G League Ignite last season.

He also averaged 1.6 assists and fell just shy of averaging 1.0 assists, and 1.0 blocks too.

“Miller has room to get stronger, but possesses terrific dimensions for a forward and is a very good athlete,” reads Miller’s post-combine draft profile from Synergy Sports. “Miller showed the ability to create a bit off the dribble, make jumpers with promising natural touch, and impose his will on smaller teams with his length and athleticism around the rim.

“Showing some playmaking potential defensively with his length and agility, Miller was a force on that end of the floor in his best moments.”

Miller was second on the Ignite in scoring ahead of projected No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson.

The Ignite have had three players selected in the top eight of the draft over the last two cycles with Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets being taken No. 2 overall and Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors going No. 7 overall in 2021 as well as New Orleans Pelicans prospect Dyson Daniels going No. 8 overall in 2022. Milwaukee Bucks youngster MarJon Beauchamp (No. 24) and Dallas Mavericks prospect Jaden Hardy (No. 73) were also taken in last year’s selection process.

G League stats don’t equate to NBA production. But Miller’s combination of size and skill could make him a worthwhile investment, especially in the latter stages of the draft where the Nets will be picking.

Nets Could Land Victor Wembanyama’s Teammate

[Bilal] Coulibaly has raised many NBA eyebrows as the season has moved on with his unique combination of physical tools, defensive versatility and improving skill. He has significant upside to grow into as an 18-year-old late bloomer who was almost a complete unknown 18 months ago. A team with a deep roster and a forward-thinking front office could very well decide to take a flier on him late at this stage of the draft, as he’d likely enter next season as a projected top-10 pick should he choose to wait another year.

Coulibaly averaged 5.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and also fell just shy of 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game this past season.

He is an early entrant who teams with projected top pick, Victor Wembanyama on the Metropolitan 92s. Standing 6-foot-6 – and boasting a 7-foot-2 wingspan – he is smaller than his 7-foot-4 teammate. But Coulibaly’s defensive potential is extremely intriguing for any team that can wait for him to develop.

The Nets do have the kind of roster that can foster that sort of development, free of expectations. Barring some unforeseen star chase this offseason that would speed up their timeline, Brooklyn’s goal this offseason needs to be building up a sustainable roster that can support their turn towards two-way potential.

Nets Have Gotten Closer Looks at Several Prospects

While they have yet to announce any formal looks at either of the prospects above, they have gotten closer looks at several prospects already. None, perhaps, were more notable than Rayan Rupert who plays for the New Zealand Breakers.

With Rupert playing in Nets general manager Sean Marks’ homeland, it made sense that the latter would take the trip to see the talented youngster up close.

Brooklyn has also held private workouts for Furman forward Jalen Slawson, Rutgers big man Cliff Omoruyi, as well as Auburn forward Johnni Broome among others. The draft is set for June 22 and will take place at the Barclays Center.

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