The Brooklyn Nets selection of Duke power forward Mason Plumlee quickly became an afterthought when it was learned that the team had also acquired veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in a draft-day trade with the Boston Celtics.
The Nets took Plumlee with No. 22 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft Thursday night at Barclays Center, shortly before the blockbuster trade was announced. The deal sent the three veteran stars to Brooklyn in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and three future draft picks.
The big trade between the Nets and Celtics stole the show at the NBA draft and sent shockwaves around the league. It also alleviated the pressure on Plumlee, who will be joining a veteran-laden Brooklyn squad primed for a championship run.
The Nets brass hit a home run by landing two future Hall of Famers and bolstering their frontcourt depth with a high-character impact player.
Brooklyn Nets Draft Duke Power Forward Mason Plumlee with the No. 22 Overall Pick
According to Nets’ beat writer Rod Boone of Newsday, Brooklyn initially tried to move up in the first round, but general manager Billy King wasn’t able to swing a deal.
Only the guys in the war room know it for sure, but it’s likely the Nets were attempting to move up in the first round to acquire 6’11” Louisville center Gorgui Dieng.
Dieng participated in the final pre-draft workout for the Nets and was projected by many to be taken in the 20-26 range in the first round. The big man may be the third-best pure defensive center in the draft behind Maryland’s Alex Len and Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for Dieng and Brooklyn, as the Utah Jazz snatched the Senegal native with the No. 21 pick, before trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Michigan point guard Trey Burke.
With Dieng off the board, many Net fans were left wondering if the team would select Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr. in an effort to infuse a little youth and athleticism into the backcourt. But King opted to strengthen the frontcourt by taking Plumlee, a fellow Duke graduate.
The selection of Plumlee came as a bit of a surprise, especially with 7-footer Jeff Withey of Kansas still on the board. Withey participated in pre-draft workouts for the Nets and is another defensive-minded center who could make an immediate impact at the next level.
But the Nets elected to go with Plumlee’s explosiveness and athleticism over Withey’s size and shot-blocking abilities.
Plumlee, whose older brother Miles plays for the Indiana Pacers, averaged 17.1 points 10 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for the Blue Devils in his senior season. The 235-pounder is one of the few players taken in the draft who played all four years in college.
At the moment, it’s uncertain what Plumlee’s role will be with the Nets, but at the very least he should be a solid rotation player on a roster that now features Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche.
Given the lack of pure big men left on the board, the Nets did well in taking Plumlee when they did. The 23-year-old is a high-energy player who can run the floor, block shots and rebound at a high rate. It will be interesting to see how his offensive game develops at the next level.
Brooklyn Nets Acquire Garnett, Pierce in Draft-Day Trade
The Nets went for the jugular and used up every trade asset available to acquire Pierce and Garnett from the Celtics.
Newly hired head coach Jason Kidd now has a starting lineup that will most likely feature Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. The five players have accounted for a combined 35 All-Star appearances.
The downside of the trade for Brooklyn is the financial ramifications that are brought on by inheriting the contracts of Pierce and Garnett. Pierce is due $15.3 million in 2013-14, while Garnett is set to make $12.4 million. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who is one of the richest men in the world, will be committing $82.4 million to his team’s starting lineup alone.
But with the trade the Nets become instant title contenders, and should, barring unforeseen circumstances, pose a significant threat to the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference next season.
In a single night, a franchise that lost 70 games in 2009-10, saw its title odds for 2013-14 jump from 40-1 to 10-1.
It’s fair to say the Nets made out like bandits in this deal. Aside from becoming one of the most stacked teams in the NBA, they were able to dump $42 million worth of salary in the form of Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
From a statistical perspective, the Nets definitely upgraded on offense.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans averaged 10.9 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting last season, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett averaged 31.2 points on 46.2 percent shooting. Wallace also shot a putrid 27.3 percent from outside the paint in 2012-13, while Pierce shot 39.3 percent.
They also got the better end of the deal defensively.
Brooklyn ranked 18th in defensive efficiency last season, while Boston ranked in the top six. Garnett, one of the best interior defenders in the league, is the main reason the Celtics have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA since joining Boston in 2007.
Jason Terry, meanwhile, should be able to fill the void left by the soon-to-be departing C.J. Watson. Terry, who won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, showed signs of aging in Boston last season. But the situation in Brooklyn will be far different, and he could thrive in a reduced bench role.
The Nets made a huge splash on draft day and look like a formidable team entering next season. They not only bolstered their depth by drafting Plumlee, they acquired three veterans with championship pedigrees.
If they can stay healthy, the Nets will challenge the Heat and the Pacers in the Eastern Conference and should be in the hunt for an NBA championship.
Overall Grade: A
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