June 21, 2006 -- \The Nets never have tried to hide their wants and needs for the upcoming draft. They seek backup help at point guard, power forward and center. And yesterday they staged one of their best pre-draft workouts.
Unfortunately, all three players working out were shooting guards and small forwards. Still, they may get some attention next Wednesday when the Nets select 22nd and 23rd on the first round and at No. 54 on the second.
"They're all two-three kinds of guys," said GM Ed Stefanski of yesterday's audition that went high level because of the NBA skills and builds on Cincinnati's 6-7 James White, Arizona's 6-4 Hassan Adams and Texas' 6-5 P.J. Tucker.
"That's not our need, but we've always taken the best player available on the board, and especially with two [first-round] picks we still could do that."
Stefanski called all three "possible first-round picks" and stressed "all three are NBA athletes, no question."
White came across as the most skilled but also the most in need of NBA weight and strength training. White, a buddy of Cincy product Kenyon Martin, was an NCAA regional qualifier in the high jump and the triple jump. He's a leaper.
"My athleticism and my overall basketball IQ - I know how to play, basically - definitely are my strengths. I have to use that because at the NBA level everybody is strong, everybody is quick," said White, who as a high schooler lived with Martin for a month in Los Angeles after the Nets drafted him in 2000.
Adams also has Nets ties of sorts - he's "always gotten good advice" from fellow Arizona product Richard Jefferson.
"Attack the rim, play hard. I'm good defender and I bring energy. I feel I'm a pretty good 15-feet and in jump shooter," said Adams in a self-assessment.
Tucker, at 230 pounds, has NBA bulk and "he can defend as well as anyone out there," Stefanski said.
The Nets today will audition 6-5 shooting guard Maurice Ager of Michigan State, 6-5 swingman Dwayne Mitchell of Louisiana-Lafayette, 6-11 center Yemi Nicholson of Denver and 6-10 forward James Augustine of Illinois.
there is not much size in this draft worth lookin at. Only Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox are any good and Wallace is proabbly staying in DEtroit (he would not fit well in the Nets motion offense because of his poor passing abilities) and Wilcox could only be a spark off the bench.
Maurice Ager (left), and James Augustine.
Post Photo Composite.
June 22, 2006 -- Size and athletes. Those have been themes dominating the Nets' NBA Draft auditions and yesterday was no exception as both elements were on display, particularly from the Big Ten.
Illinois' 6-9 forward James Augustine showed the size the Nets favor while Michigan State's Maurice Ager displayed the type of athleticism and energy that forces Net brass to consider "best player available" for a draft top-heavy with wing players.
"Augustine runs the floor extremely well, comes from a great program, has been a winner his four years," praised Nets GM Ed Stefanski, who also observed 6-9 Denver forward Yemi Nicholson and 6-5 Louisiana-Lafayette guard Dwayne Mitchell. "He's a guy who definitely is going to be drafted, a guy you'll see in the NBA."
Might that be with the Nets, who pick 22nd and 23rd on the first round, 54th on the second?
"He's in the second round early. He plays with a lot of energy, knows how to play on both ends and runs the floor extremely well," Stefanski said. "Augustine is one we have to consider even though he's limited offensively. We need bigs."
Augustine, Illinois' first-ever 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound guy, knows that. While he felt his shooting lacked yesterday, he likes what he offers.
"Athleticism, along with size. I'm able to do little things and I'm able to rebound which any team can always use," Augustine said. "I want to come in and bring the things a team needs. They obviously have scorers, they have people who can pass. They don't need that, but you can always use rebounding and somebody to run up and down the floor and do all the little things."
Ager, a "high-level athlete" Stefanski said, is the third Michigan State guy who worked out well for the Nets, following guard Shannon Brown and center Paul Davis. A sure two-guard, Ager acknowledged how the Nets seek help up front and at point guard.
"It's tough. That's why it's so important to play both positions," Ager said. "And at the end of the day a team should look at the best player to fit them whether it's a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5."
Seeing how I come from a Big Ten school, and most notably, lived in the same building with Auggie, it's nice to see this... James, though I love and hate him, could be a guy we could use. He's atheltic, got a nice lefty jumper, and is a team player. He's also an athletic guy who can definitely get loose balls, rebounds, and what not. Obviously, he needs to beef up and he'll probably see a lot of time in the bench next year. He can run the floor well and J-Kidd will hit get him some good lobs, but he still needs work, despite being a senior.
I do not think we should take Ager if we have a chance to get Lowry. Lowry will be the better pro and if he came out next year, a definite lotto pick. Ager is more gifted athletically as well as Shannon Brown, better strokes, but I am more prone to say Lowry is the guy we need certainly as a spark off the bench. He pushes the ball as well as anyone in the draft, and he can take anyone off the dribble. If there is anything to be learned this past season is that scoring PGs are now valued more. Lowry can be that guy. He's a more rugged Stephon Marbury without all the bull**** talking and moves. He's got heart, while MI State disappointed last year.
If we end up taking Augustine and Lowry, I'll be happy...