Despite the infamous Celtics trade that trickled into Sean Marks' start as GM, the Brooklyn Nets have made the most of their late picks in recent years.
In 2016, they traded Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for the 20th pick, who would become Caris LeVert. The Bojan Bogdanovic/Chris McCullough trade in 2017 turned into Jarrett Allen, drafted 22nd overall. Both are now franchise rising stars.
This year, the Nets own the Nos. 27 and 31 overall picks. Perhaps they package them together in an effort to move up. Maybe they take the European route, like they did last year when they selected Dzanan Musa of Bosnia and Rodions Kurucs of Latvia.
Here are a few names to look out for on Thursday night:
Luka Samanic, Olimpija Ljubljana, F, 6-11, 227 pounds
Samancic is certainly a name to look out for come Thursday. He fits the modern-day mold of what NBA teams look for in a big man. At 6-foot-11, Samancic can do a bit of everything on offense. He can push in transition, knock down the 3 ball and attack slower bigs with his impressive footwork.
The Nets desperately needed a stretch big last season. Given the way their offense is set up in pace-and-space style, it would be ideal for the Nets to have four shooters on the floor at all times. Their lack of size crushed them all throughout the season, and their lack of shooters in the frontcourt disabled them from stretching teams out the way they envisioned.
Most executives do not pick for their current needs, but with the Nets in a position to potentially be one of the top teams in the East, Samancic appears to be the perfect fit in their offense.
Darius Bazley, N/A, F, 6-9, 197 pounds
Bazley is an intriguing case for the Nets, should he fall to the 27th slot. He first de-committed from Ohio State, then rejected a signed letter of intent with Syracuse, announcing his ambition to spend his required year outside of high school in G-League gyms. He didn't play a G-League nor college game. He told The Athletic's Shams Charania last August, "If you play well, it's expected. If you don't play well, you're not NBA-ready. That's what they'll say. For me, working out and preparing is the best route."
He joins Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dante Exum, Terrance Ferguson and Mitchell Robinson as players who skipped out on playing collegiate AND G-League ball so he could prepare for the draft on his own.
He gambled on himself and impressed the Nets this past week in his pre-draft workout, showcasing his length and athleticism during the workout. His 3-point ball is a work in progress, but he's said to have a soft touch out on the perimeter. That'll bode well for head coach Kenny Atkinson, who's known for developing big men into 3-point shooters, namely Al Horford and Brook Lopez.
Bazley got stronger this past year and improved his frame, which gives him the potential cover multiple positions from guards, wings and bigs. He just turned 19 on Wednesday and might be worth the risk if he drops to 27. He would be considered raw entering the NBA, but the Nets have done a stellar job of developing players with their G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, where Musa spent this past season.
Kevin Porter Jr., USC, G/F, 6-5, 215 pounds
This is beginning to look a lot like Allen in the sense that some analysts have him dropping as the draft gets closer; The Ringer projects him to fall as far as No. 26. Porter has lottery talent, but struggled during his freshman year, averaging just 9.5 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes per game. The belief is that he's raw and may spend time in the G-League, but he has skill that wasn't always evident during his time at USC.
He's a good athlete who possesses the explosiveness to get by opposing defenders at will. His strong frame allows him to use his strength and finish with contact at the rim, making him a sought-out transition player. Furthermore, he shot an impressive 41 percent from 3 and showed he can be a streaky scorer with an ability to get hot in a flash.
Inconsistency and defense are two major flaws in his game, as well as discipline. There are some off-court concerns, some that include skipping and arriving late to practices. If he falls to 27 or the Nets try and move up, keep an eye out for Porter.
He may not seem like the systematic or even cultural fit the Nets often go for, but they're heavy believers in taking the best talent available, and Porter just might be that guy that falls into their lap.