Thomas and Sharpe ready for Brooklyn
Nets' top draft choices eager to contribute to title quest
Cameron Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks in last Thursday’s NBA Draft at Downtown’s Barclays Center, know that their new franchise already boasts a Big Three with championship expectations.
But that doesn’t mean the teen duo, neither of whom will turn 20 until next season, won’t be chomping at the bit for playing time alongside Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden in 2021-22.
“I’m here to bring a great attitude, being a great teammate, scoring power, just an all-around player,” said Thomas during his introductory press conference at the Nets’ HSS Training Center in Sunset Park Monday.
“Scoring power, playmaking, defense, rebounding — whatever the team needs, I’m bringing that. I feel like Brooklyn made a really good choice picking me.”
So does general manager Sean Marks, who spent draft night in Brooklyn picking up Thomas, a 6-foot-4 guard from Louisiana State who averaged 23.0 points per game in his lone collegiate campaign, and Sharpe, a 6-11 center out of the University of North Carolina.
“Ecstatic to have them first and foremost,” said Marks, who took Thomas 27th overall and grabbed Sharpe 29th after a deal with defending Western Conference champion Phoenix.
“We know those guys very, very well, very comfortable with who they are both as pull and how they’ll fit in from a system fit and so forth. With Cam first and foremost, incredible scorer, shooter, really enjoyed getting to know him and I think he’s a fit with what we’re doing moving forward.”
Sharpe averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game at UNC before arriving here Monday.
“And Day’Ron, his size, mobility, his ability to stretch the floor, which to be quite frank hasn’t been really seen yet, so we’re excited to get both these guys in the gym, both continue to develop with our development coaches and go from there,” Marks added.
In the second round, the Nets selected Kessler Edwards from Pepperdine with the 44th pick, Marcus Zegarowski (49th) of Creighton and RaiQuan Gray (59th) out of Florida State.
While all three may be longshots to make the roster next season, Marks believes the Nets’ braintrust did well to replenish a roster that may lose several key free agents, including Spencer Dinwiddie, in the next few days.
“Kessler, Macrus, RaiQuan we know all three of them very well,” said Marks. “This is what we’re doing our job for, we’ve scouted them. We’ve seen them live. We really enjoyed sitting down and meeting with these guys. Again, all three very competitive, all three high upside.”
Nets head coach Steve Nash, who led the franchise to its highest winning percentage (.667) and the top offensive efficiency rating (116.3) in NBA history during his rookie season, knows that Thomas and Sharpe can be important players for him next year.
But only if they put in the work necessary to earn the trust of proven superstars like Durant, Irving and Harden, whom Thomas called his favorite current player Thursday night.
“These are young, young guys coming into this league, and they both have the potential to play in this league,” Nash noted.
“They’ve got to earn it and prove it on a contending team. They both may very well earn minutes but they both may not, and that doesn’t mean that we’re discouraged in any way. We want to develop these guys regardless of whether they play or don’t play. So this is a long-term play.”
Thomas and Sharpe may be a part of the Nets’ long-term plans, but time is ticking on Brooklyn’s Big Three to deliver our borough’s first major pro sports championship since 1955 after they fell well short of that goal in this year’s playoffs.
“I just want to go out there and give my best,” Thomas emphasized.
NOTHING BUT NET: Marks apparently wasn’t done working after the draft. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that forward Blake Griffin, whom the Nets acquired prior to last year’s trade deadline, has agreed to a one-year deal to return to Brooklyn. Also, it appears the Nets have lost veteran forward Jeff Green, who reportedly signed a two-year deal with Denver, according to ESPN. Dinwiddie and Bruce Brown remained free agents at deadline.
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