Nets earn high praise for 2023 NBA Draft

The Nets picked Noah Clowney in the NBA Draft
Noah Clowney at Alabama (wikimedia commons)

The Brooklyn Nets had three picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft and could have made plenty of moves as they work to distance themselves from the failure of The Big Three – Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. The Nets could have packaged their selections to move up in the draft or trade one of their veteran wings, Royce O’Neale or Dorian Finney-Smith, for a better pick.

Instead, the Nets decided to enter its first full season without The Big Three by betting on youth, drafting Alabama forward Noah Clowney and Duke wing Dariq Whitehead in the first round and then Kansas wing Jalen Wilson in the second round.

Those bets are youth are amplified by the fact that Brooklyn’s first-round picks were two of the draft’s youngest players. Whitehead, who turns 19 in August, was the youngest drafted in the first round, while Clowney was the third youngest.

Clowney was the first of the two selected. He may be a bit of a project, but he has the raw tools to be an impactful big man in the modern NBA. 

The power forward is 6’10” with a 7’3″ wingspan, plays defense at a really high level, and rebounds well. He has good shooting mechanics while taking over four 3-point attempts per game, so there is some reason to believe he’ll be able to space the floor as a shooter in the coming years. The Nets are a great landing spot because they have the years to see that development through.

Their next pick was perhaps even more of an upside gamble.

Whitehead was one of the most decorated high school basketball players in recent memory, winning Naismith Prep Player of the Year in his senior season at the legendary Montverde Academy. He would have and likely been a top-five or top-10 pick in this draft if he was fully healthy, but spent most of his year at Duke recovering from a broken foot. 

The good news for the Nets was that Whitehead’s surgery was performed by Brooklyn’s physician. The fact that the team drafted him must mean that he feels comfortable with Whitehead’s likely recovery from the injury. 

The Nets ended their NBA Draft by taking Kansas small forward Jalen Wilson in the second round with pick 51 overall. 

Wilson was a key piece on Kansas’ NCAA title team two seasons ago and has improved every year with the Jayhawks, finishing his career by being named the Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus All-American this season. Wilson’s profile doesn’t contain one particular standout skill, but he is a physically strong wing who can handle the ball and brings the type of mentality that often leads to a long NBA career as a role player. It might not be a sexy pick, but it could be a winning pick to bring on a player who has won titles and been a leader on winning programs. 

Dariq Whitehead Nets
Dariq Whitehead shoots for Duke in the 2023-24 season (wikimedia commons)

2023-24 NBA Title Odds

However, even after their strong draft, not many believe the Nets have a chance to complete next year, which is not surprising for a rebuilding team. 

According to DraftKings, the Nets are +9000 to win the NBA Championship in 2023-24 and +3500 to win the Eastern Conference. For comparison’s sake, the Knicks are +1700 to win the East, the 6th best odds, and +5000 to win the NBA title, the 14th best odds. 

Team NBA Title Odds
Boston Celtics +475
Denver Nuggets +475
Phoenix Suns +700
Milwaukee Bucks +750
Los Angeles Lakers +1200


Team Eastern Conference Odds
Boston Celtics +210
Milwaukee Bucks +285
Philadelphia 76ers +550
Miami Heat +600
Cleveland Cavaliers +1000

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