2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: Jimmy Butler, F, Marquette

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NBA Mock Draft 2011, Nets: Jimmy Butler, F, Marquette

The mock drafts are coming at a fast and furious pace all around the net leading up the NBA Draft, though none as quickly as the SB Nation collaborative effort.  Bloggers for each team have been revealing their picks one per hour over the last couple of days!

With the New Jersey Nets on the clock, NetsDaily selected Marquette forward Jimmy Butler with the 27th overall pick.

One of the Nets' biggest needs is a small forward, as well as someone who can penetrate and get to the rim.

With Anthony Morrow spacing the floor, and Deron Williams running the offense, Jimmy Butler is the perfect option for this team. A solid defender, hard worker, and impressive young man, Butler ranked third in the Big East in free throws attempted per game this year, as well as 2nd last year. The man knows how to get to the line, and the Nets have been missing someone who can attack the rim from the perimeter.

Travis Leslie also fit the bill, but Butler has maturity and readiness to play over Leslie, who is a little bit of a project. We also like Tyler Honeycutt's defensive potential, but we're choosing to go with the polished offensive player in order to help convince Deron Williams to stick around.

There are few prospects that have been talked about more than Butler this week, though much of it has to do with his story away from the court.  ESPN's Chad Ford spoke with the Marquette star about how he overcame being kicked out of his house at the age of 13 to now being on the verge of signing an NBA contract.

While he is slightly being overvalued all of a sudden due to his story, don't be fooled: this kid can play.  Butler can hurt you inside and out while never afraid to hit the glass while doing the dirty work.

Plus, any team like the Nets looking for players that can deal with a demanding coach, you know that Butler isn't going to wilt under the pressure of being a pro.

You'd like him to have a bigger wingspan (6-8) so he could have more success guarding NBA power forwards and he'll never be the most athletic player on the floor.

More explosive options like Justin Harper and JaJuan Johnson are probably more likely in this scenario, but it would be hard to argue if GM Billy King decided to call Butler's name on Thursday night.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: Justin Harper, F, Richmond

We are now counting down the hours until the 2011 NBA Draft kicks off on Thursday evening from Newark.  If you have any solid grasp on just what will go down, then you are a better person than even the men making the decisions.  After the Cleveland Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving and the Minnesota Timberwolves (or whichever team is picking in their place) take Derrick Williams, all bets are off.

With the wheeling and dealing Billy King running the show for the New Jersey Nets, there is a good chance they will be selecting before their currently scheduled slot of 27.  But for now that's where they are and in SB Nation's latest mock draft, the Nets are projected to grab an experienced front court player.

27. New Jersey Nets: Justin Harper, F, Richmond

Harper is one of the players the Nets are reportedly looking at here, but don't be surprised if New Jersey ignores the coming CBA changes and spends The Prokhorov's cash on some wild, Mark Cubanesque trade.

We've been harping on it from the beginning of the draft discussion but it would be a major shock if the Nets didn't select a player that is ready to play right away.  They won't hit a home run, but they will hit a solid double that will help the team reach the playoffs next season.

Harper fits that bill perfectly and should be the pick if he is still on the board when New Jersey sends in their picks for the 27th pick.  The 6-foot-9 Harper was able to show significant improvement each of his four seasons with the Spiders, a quality that will pay off in camp playing next to Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

There are few forwards in this draft that can run the floor with Deron Williams without being a defensive liability while on the floor with both Lopez and Humphries.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: Iman Shumpert, PG, Georgia Tech

Believe it or not, the NBA Draft is less than a week away and most team's boards are locked in, despite the posturing GMs are doing on a daily basis.

So, as New Jersey Nets GM Billy King and coach Avery Johnson evaluate the talent they know will be coming back for the franchise's final year in the Garden State, which position will they favor the most?

According to SB Nation's Tom Ziller, it has been and continues to be point guard.

27. New Jersey Nets: Iman Shumpert, PG, Georgia Tech

Shumpert could go in the teens. My question: if he's such a good prospect, why has everyone constantly ripped Georgia Tech's guard play?

It would be a major surprise if the Nets go with anyone other than the most NBA ready player still on the board.  Does Shumpert fit that description?  In Ziller's scenario you can certainly make that argument but it only takes one player to fall -- Jordan Hamilton, Marshon Brooks -- down the draft board and all that would change.

Shumpert would obviously give New Jersey an upgrade behind Deron Williams, but there are still very big questions about if he really is indeed a point guard. Over his three years at Georgia Tech he was forced to take on more of a scorer's role and he had a career low 3.5 assists per game. Shumpert also never shot more than 33 percent from behind the arc, something that will allow defenders at the next level to play off of him and prevent drives to the basket.

Don't forget that owner Mikhail Prokhorov has plenty of money to spend and will be very active on draft night trying to purchase at least one more first-round pick. That means there are players destined for the late teens and early 20s that could find their way to the Nets.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: Darius Morris, PG, Michigan

NBA teams are scrambling to get in all of their workouts with the draft just a short two weeks away.  It's a time of falling in love with players in a workout that you never cared for in games and then sending smokescreens to anyone that is willing to pay attention.

For the New Jersey Nets, there task has and will remain the same: find players in the draft that can immediately help Deron Williams make it to the playoffs next season.  As owner Mikhail Prokhorov, GM Billy King and head coach Avery Johnson do everything they can to convince the point guard to sign a long term extension when he is able, giving him more weapons will go a long way to making that happen.  The only way to do that right now is via the draft.

In the latest installment of the SB Nation NBA Mock Draft, Tom Ziller provides comparable players to each pick, including a rather unflattering one for his projected Nets selection.

27. New Jersey Nets: Darius Morris, PG, Michigan

Javaris Crittenton.

Even in a down draft, if the Nets come away with a fringe NBA player, it will be a major whiff by King.

I've been saying from the beginning of this process that I don't mind if New Jersey decides to go with a point guard, but the better fit would be someone with more of a scoring mentality.  If they want someone to come in and just not embarrass themselves, they can just stick with Ben Uzoh.

You should fully expect this pick -- and any others they pick up on draft night -- to have more experience than the two years Morris brings to the table.  He will also be more of a scorer if he's a guard/swing or a monster rebounder if he plans to play in the front court.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue

After waiting for two months of NBA playoffs to come to a close, only the weeks long Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks stands between us and the draft on June 23rd.  During this long waiting period, most mock drafts have swung and missed badly when it comes to the type of prospect the New Jersey Nets will be gunning for.

Owner Mikhail Porkhorov and GM Billy King's only task for next season is getting into the playoffs and that means bringing in players that can contribute, no matter if it's via the draft or free agency.  Potential is for bottom dwellers and that's something New Jersey has no interest in right now.

One draftnik that has managed to hit the nail on the head so far is SB Nation's Tom Ziller.  A week after projecting Washington's do-it-all leader Isaiah Thomas to the Nets, he follows it up with another battle tested college player from a big time conference.

27. New Jersey Nets: JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue

Best Purdue big man since Kyle Orton.

Bad joke aside, this is another perfect example of the type of player we should expect the Nets to target no matter where they end up selecting.  I say that because as we've talked about, the Nets will spare no expense in picking up one or more extra picks if there is a player that King and head coach Avery Johnson feel can step in and help next season.

Johnson took a major step forward each of his four years at Purdue and now the 22-year-old will have a chance to do the same at the next level.  He brings an ability to run the floor and jump through the roof, to musts for any big that plans to play with PG Deron Williams.

At worst, Johnson serves as what last year's first-round pick, Derrick Favors, would have been with a few more years of college experience. Not too shabby for the end of the first round.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft, Nets: Isaiah Thomas, G, Washington

The New Jersey Nets may have sent their first round pick to the Utah Jazz in the Deron Williams trade, but that doesn't mean they will be sitting on the sidelines come draft night.  Thanks to the deal that brought Sasha Vujacic to the Garden State, the Nets own the Los Angeles Lakers first round pick, No. 27 overall.

It's also important to remember that the Nets could be a player all throughout the first round of next month's draft.  As he'll be the first to tell you, Mikhail Prokhorov has more than enough cash to buy a pick or two and GM Billy King has already said the team is "trying" to acquire another pick.

For now, however, King's focus is on the 27th pick, where he will look for a player that can step right in and contribute for the playoff-hungry Nets.  In the latest mock draft from SB Nation's Tom Ziller, he projects just that for New Jersey.

27. New Jersey Nets: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington

The Nets could use a good change-of-pace lead guard; every team needs one. Thomas might be one of the best available late in the first round in the last couple years.

Ziller calls Thomas a point guard, but really he is only that in stature.  The little man (5'10") from Washington showed last year that he can distribute the ball, but he is still at his best when he is putting the ball in the basket. 

Generally there isn't a lot of call for spending a first round pick on an undersized point guard that isn't really a point guard, but he would be the perfect fit with the Nets.  Time and again, the 22-year old Thomas showed that he isn't afraid of the big stage, something that will be a necessity for any player New Jersey drafts if they hope to make a push for the playoffs.

While no one will ever confuse Thomas for Williams, don't forget that the Nets were giving minutes to Sundiata Gaines, Ben Uzoh and Mario West last season.  I will take the Husky over any of those three right now.  It's not often you can upgrade a rotation player immediately with the 27th pick in the first round, but Thomas would do just that for the Nets.

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