Brooklyn Nets may be eyeing a unicorn of their own

Apr 10, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) battles with Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) for the tip off during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) battles with Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) for the tip off during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

The Brooklyn Nets have two late first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. With the team in rebuilding mode, Sean Marks may be looking to draft a project with “unicorn” qualities.

The Brooklyn Nets have been scouring Europe for under-the-radar free agent options. General Manager Sean Marks, who used to be a member of the San Antonio Spurs front office, is taking a hint from his former team by adding international flair to his roster.

Marks added Justin Hamilton out of Spanish Liga ACB last offseason. He could be looking to sign more talent out of foreign leagues this year. Milos Teodosic, Facundo Campazzo and Shayne Whittington were three targets Marks and Coach Kenny Atkinson looked at the past few weeks.

Turns out, the Nets are also looking at draft prospects overseas, and according to NetsDaily, Anzejs Pasecniks could be an option.

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There is no shortage of options for international talent in the draft. One option, who Nets assistant Trajan Langdon took a look at last week along with 10 other NBA general managers, should give the basketball world the feeling of deja vu.

Pasecniks is a 7-foot-2 Latvian center that moves well and stretches the floor. Where have we heard that before?

Comparisons to New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis are natural. Both centers shoot three-pointers, run the floor surprisingly well and hail from the burgeoning basketball nation of Latvia.

Both players are also considered “unicorns.”

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The term has been overused since Kevin Durant called Porzingis that last season. It does apply to talents of Porzingis’ caliber, though. Pasecniks doesn’t have quite the length or potential as Porzingis but he does do something well that Porzingis needs to improve on: using his size on offense.

Notice how Pasecniks uses his frame in the paint while playing for Herbalife Gran Canaria. The 21-year-old uses a myriad of head fakes and pump fakes to catch his opponents off guard. Pasecniks also features a jump hook in his repertoire. In an NBA game that will come in handy against physical NBA centers like Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins who will have no problem putting a body on him.

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While playing in Liga ACB and Eurocup this season, Pasecniks is averaging 5.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. While those are not eye-popping numbers it should be noted that he is shooting a blistering 66 percent from the field. As the first big man off the bench, Pasecniks provided efficiency in the paint as well as from deep where he is shooting 47 percent.

Pasecniks does a lot of things well. He can run the floor, has excellent athleticism for his size, makes the most of his height by keeping the ball high on drives and he possesses the kind of floor spacing abilities NBA coaches covet. Atkinson’s three-point-heavy offense seems like an ideal fit for the Latvian prospect.

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It wouldn’t be hard to imagine how he would impact the Nets either. His athleticism makes him a good roll man in Atkinson’s offensive sets. Imagining Jeremy Lin tossing him lobs as Lin once did with Tyson Chandler with the Knicks isn’t difficult. His ability to space the floor and gives Brook Lopez more room to operate in the post. If he can become more aware defensively, after never averaging a block per game, there is no limit to how dominant a defender he can be.

Pasecniks may be a special talent. Drafting him and watching him grow alongside fellow Brooklyn Nets youngsters Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert would give fans hope that this rebuild may not be so daunting.

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When Yao Ming became the first Chinese player in the NBA, he opened the door for players like Yi Jianlian. Porzingis may have blazed a similar trail for guys like Pasecniks to follow. With a need for talent and an uncertain future for franchise center Lopez, the Nets and Pasecniks may just be a match.