The NBA Draft has now come and gone, and the Brooklyn Nets have already begun the process of developing their trio of new prospects – Noah Clowney (21st pick), Dariq Whitehead (22nd pick) and Jalen Wilson (51st pick) – into impact-makers in the Brooklyn black-and-white (or red-and-blue). Like every NBA organization, the Nets had their sights set on the kinds of players they felt could quickly contribute and complement the team’s culture and mentality. Now as Nets fans, players and staff all gear up for the rest of what looks to be an eventful offseason, let’s take a moment to evaluate what Brooklyn added in the 2023 Draft.
Noah Clowney: First round, No. 21 pick (Alabama)
Clowney is a 6’10, 210-pound big man from the University of Alabama. Finishing as a part of the All-SEC Freshman team, Clowney averaged 9.8 points and 7.9 rebounds with the Crimson Tide. Clowney ranked fifth in the conference in rebounding and established himself as a solid inside presence for Alabama, which is something that the Nets will surely benefit from. Other than fan-favorite Nicholas Claxton and backup Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn has at times found itself lacking depth in the front court. This was evident in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers when Claxton was left as the only man who could guard last year’s league MVP, Joel Embiid. The Nets will look to use Clowney’s combination of rebounding and shot blocking to contend against the same teams who tried to overpower the Nets in the past.
Dariq Whitehead: First round, No. 22 pick (Duke)
With the 22nd overall pick, the Nets elected to take a local kid in Newark, N.J.-native Dariq Whitehead out of Duke University. Once a five-star recruit, Whitehead fell short of his lofty expectations during his freshman year with the Blue Devils due to a foot injury he suffered during summer workouts with the team. By the end of his freshman season, Whitehead averaged 8 points a game while leading the ACC in three-point field goal percentage after shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Despite his injuries, Whitehead’s talent could make him a valuable bounce-back candidate for the Nets, who back in 2016 found a diamond in the rough in Caris LeVert, a player that ended up falling to 20th overall after battling his own foot issues in college at the University of Michigan. Whitehead will hope to become a great wing for the Nets in the future as his career goes along if his NBA-level athleticism develops along with his already stellar jump shot.
Jalen Wilson: Second round, No. 51 pick (Kansas)
With second-round pick Jalen Wilson, the Nets have added a bona fide winner. With an NCAA championship under his back in 2022, Wilson has been one of the central leaders of the hugely successful Kansas program for the past three years. Wilson was named the BIG 12 Player of the Year last season after averaging 20 PPG with the Jayhawks, and as a three-level scorer he should be able to make an immediate impact in the scoring column when his opportunity arrives. The Nets are surely hoping that Wilson’s championship pedigree and scoring abilities can accelerate his path to meaningful minutes at the NBA level, and his track record of leadership can rub off on his fellow teammates in the organization going forward.
While the future remains uncertain for Brooklyn heading into the 2023-24 season, this year’s draft could turn out to be a successful one for Sean Marks and the rest of the organization. Each prospect adds a unique skill set to the team and the hunger to contribute in the coming years. Only time will tell if these youngsters can take the next step and develop into prominent role players or even potential stars down the line.