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NBA trade rumors: How will Nets use draft picks in rebuild

Brooklyn has two late selections it can move.

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 20: Spencer Dinwiddie #26 and Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets high five during Round One Game Three of the 2023 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 20, 2023 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets effectively said goodbye to the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving era with a pair of seismic deals made at the NBA trade deadline. In return, Brooklyn received a haul of Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Johnson, in addition to a bevy of draft capital. In the aftermath of the latter, the Nets now hold two first-round selections ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft, presenting Brooklyn with an interesting path forward when it comes to bolstering their roster.

Here’s where things stand for the Nets, the paths forward, and the most likely outcome for Brooklyn as it approaches the draft.

Path 1: Keep both picks

In the aftermath of their trades with the Suns and Mavericks, the Nets received an experienced veteran in Dinwiddie and a promising young role player in Johnson. As for Bridges, the two-way wing elevated his level of play upon arriving in Brooklyn. His ceiling is looking very much like that of a future All-Star. If Brooklyn believes those three forms a nice foundation, why package their two first-round selections in this year’s draft when you could use them to add depth?

As we’ve seen with the Denver Nuggets advancing to the NBA Finals, having a plethora of depth on the roster can give a team a significant advantage in the postseason. For the Nets, this path would provide them with an opportunity to select two prospects and develop them into key rotation players for years to come.

Path 2: Keep one pick

The Nets are in an interesting situation in that they are by no means in a rebuild, yet are still very much a key piece or two away from serious contention. Bridges seems to have the potential to be a superstar, but pairing him with a veteran-ready player in the rotation could be a sound strategy. Seth Curry will be a free agent this summer, while Joe Harris and Patty Mills will hit the market in the summer of 2024.

Using one of their draft picks to acquire a suitable replacement for any of the three aforementioned names would help Brooklyn compete in the short-term while keeping the other draft asset gives the Nets’ staff a prospect to develop for the future.

Path 3: Trade both picks

The Eastern Conference could be as wide open as ever with questions surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Boston Celtics. If the Nets decide to strike while the iron is hot, then packaging their two 2023 first-round selections for a star player presents a potential high-risk high-reward scenario. The question ahead is which player in the league is worth the draft capital of departing with two first-rounders?

One name that could be on the Nets’ radar is Jaylen Brown. Engaging in a trade with a division rival may feel far-fetched, but then we should remember these two discussed a potential Brown-Durant swap at one point this season.

Best approach: Path 1

I’m not entirely sold on Boston trading away Brown to a division rival. If anything, the Celtics All-Star would likely be headed west. While the allure of trading for a veteran player with one of their draft assets has to be considered, it’s key to remember that Curry, Harris, and Mills are all a handful of names that are arguably not in the future plans for Brooklyn.

While perhaps not the most splashy move, keeping both picks would allow the Nets to build depth on the roster without putting a dent in their wallet, all while observing whether Bridges evolves into a star.