The Brooklyn Nets have three selections in the 2023 NBA Draft. They have back-to-back picks at Nos. 21 and 22 and pick No. 51 in the second round. These picks will start the franchise’s rebuild after Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s exit this past season. With at least one Nets draft pick, the team needs to take a sleeper with big boom or bust potential. That’s why a Tristan Vukcevic draft pick makes sense for the team.
Nets draft must target Partizan sleeper Tristan Vukcevic
The Nets post-Kyrie and KD rebuild started with the players the team got back from the Phoenix Suns, specifically Mikal Bridges.
Bridges is an excellent player, although his potential seems to be capped at a No. 2 on a championship or even a serious playoff contender. The former Villanova star is an excellent defender and a high-end, modern 3-and-D wing. The best players to put around him should also fit that mold with length and positional versatility.
One sleeper 2023 NBA Draft prospect who fits this mold is 20-year-old Serbian-Swedish big man Tristan Vukcevic.
Tristan is the son of former European professional basketball player Dusan Vukcevic, who enjoyed a long career in the top leagues in Europe, including playing for Olympiacos in Greece and Real Madrid in Spain. Dusan was a Greek basketball commentator after he retired and is now an assistant coach for Peristeri in the country.
The younger Vukcevic is a 6-foot-10 forward/center who started his professional career with Real Madrid as a teenager. After three years in Spain, playing just a few games for the Real Madrid senior team, he moved to Partizan Belgrade in Serbia.
Playing on one of the top European teams in the world, Vucevic averages around 15 minutes per game, along with 8.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.0 assists. He plays alongside 2015 NBA lottery pick Dante Exum and has competed against well-known former NBA names this season such as Rudy Fernandez, Nicola Mirotic, Jan Vesely, and Mario Hezonja.
The scouting report on Tristan Vukcevic is that he has an intriguing offensive NBA skillset. He is good at handling the ball, can pass and play-make, and can score inside and out. Vukcevic is shooting 40% from 3-point range this season.
As a 6-foot-10 forward, Vukcevic has the size and athleticism to become an NBA rim protector as well, but he hasn’t shown that ability on the court just yet.
Possibly the most interesting thing about the Tristan Vukcevic draft prospects is that he just turned 20 in March and has been playing against grown men in some of the most competitive games in the world outside the NBA for years now.
Vukcevic hasn’t dominated, although he has more than held his own, and has shown incredible flashes of talent at times. And more and more often these days, NBA scouts are seeing players in these top European leagues as players who can succeed in the U.S.
It’s worth noting that before Partizan, Vukcevic played for Real Madrid, the team that Luka Doncic dominated before coming to the NBA and quickly becoming one of its best players.
If the Nets draft Vukcevic with their second first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the team could have a player whose offensive game could translate to the league right away.
He would have to get stronger and better defensively to become an impactful two-way player, but at least at the beginning of his career, Vukcevic playing with Bridges and next to a defensive-minded center like Nic Claxton could allow him to flourish.
This draft class will be hit or miss toward the end of the first round and into the second. While the proceedings will be top-heavy, with Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson at the top of the draft, the later picks will have a lot of U.S. college players who should be solid role players in the NBA but not stars.
Where the Nets draft this year and in their current team-building situation, Brooklyn needs to take at least one big swing on a player who could become a star.
That’s why a Tristan Vukcevic draft pick is so enticing.
There’s an average chance that the 6-foot-10 youngster’s finesse game is better suited for Europe, and by the end of his first contract, he’ll be back overseas with players who have quickly flamed out like the aforementioned Dante Exum Jan Vesely, and Mario Hezonja.
However, growing up around professional basketball with his father and having the skills he has at his height, Vukcevic could succeed in the NBA and become a true steal at his draft slot.
And at this point, the Nets need all the lottery tickets they can get their hands on if they hope to get back into Eastern Conference contention any time soon.
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