It was a rough year for the New Jersey Nets, who finished 34-48 on the season. They were pleasantly surprised with the way Brooke Lopez performed, averaging 13 points eight rebounds a game, but still lacked bulk inside.
For that reason, many experts predict the Nets going after a power foward or a good shooting guard from the perimeter in the NBA Draft next month. Picking at 11, there are some good possibilities depending on who is still available.
Averaging 15 points and eight boards a game at Wake Forest, James Johnson seems like a perfect fit at 6'8" and around 250 pounds. Johnson would give the Nets the toughness and energy they need inside.
Another possible pick for the Nets is the beast from Pittsburg, Dejuan Blair. He is measured at about 6'7" but plays much taller. He put out a double-double almost every game at Pitt and would be a great fit. There were some questions about Blair's weight, but he answered those critics quickly by losing 15 pounds. Blair, alongside Lopez, could be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
As for guards, Wayne Ellington, a dead-eye shooter from the National Championship team at North Carolina, could be a great complement to the team with his three-point shooting. He was the key to the Tar Heels' championship run and should be an average pro with great shooting ability.
So it brings us to this: Do the Nets go with a power foward or shooting guard? In my opinion, the Nets need some bulk and toughness on their front line to be able to compete with the elite in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey has a good core of players with Harris, Carter, and Lopez, but they need one more player to fill the role of a banger to play defense and grab rebounds.
If I was Rod Thorn, and Dejuan Blair was available at 11, I am picking him with no questions asked.
It should be interesting what the Nets decide to do, so I guess we'll see on June 25.