brooklyn nets day'ron sharpe
Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets need their incoming rookies, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, to hit the ground running next season.

Danny Small

The Brooklyn Nets bucked the trend of previous years by taking a player in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Shockingly, they ended up making two picks in the first round — Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe.

Brooklyn addressed two key areas of need with these picks. For Thomas, he can provide some bench scoring to help alleviate the pressure on the big three. As for Sharpe, he is a physical big man who can defend pick-and-roll and crash the glass.

The last time we saw the Nets on the court, they were watching the Milwaukee Bucks celebrate a Game 7 overtime win. Injuries slowed Brooklyn down in the playoffs and their lack of depth was glaring. General manager Sean Marks is hoping that the rookies on the roster can change that.

Nets Salary Cap Concerns

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room. The Nets are paying a few guys a ton of money. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden are all on monster deals and Joe Harris makes upwards of $17 million next year.

That means that Marks has to get creative with how he fills out the rest of the roster. Adding ring-chasing veterans is one way to build some depth, but snagging immediate-impact rookies is another option.

Thomas and Sharpe are set to make $3.5 and $3.4 million, respectively, during their rookie seasons. Those are bargain-bin prices for rotational players.

Brooklyn has its trio of stars as the foundation, but the work isn’t done yet. Finding winning players on the margins is the final step in the championship process.

Potential Roles

Thomas is all but locked into his role as a scoring spark off the bench. Scoring is a skill that will never go out of style in the NBA and Thomas is an elite shotmaker.

He should be able to thrive off the bench, especially if he is paired with Harden on that second unit. Obviously, Harden is going to start, but Nets coach Steve Nash would often stagger Harden’s minutes with a bench unit. Harden, Thomas, a big, and two shooters would make for a strong second unit.

Sharpe might not be ready for it on day one, but he has a chance to start for Brooklyn as a rookie. DeAndre Jordan was a non-factor in the playoffs and his time in Brooklyn could be winding down. Of course, much of this depends on what happens in free agency.

He’s a good ball mover that would fit in well with Brooklyn’s stars. It’s too early to tell what Sharpe’s role is going to be on this roster, but don’t put him in a box.

Second-Round Flyers

Second-round picks rarely turn into stars, but there are legitimate NBA rotation players out there to be had every year. The Nets took a few swings on guys in the second round —  Kessler Edwards, Marcus Zegarowski, and RaiQuan Gray. Hitting on one of those guys would be a home run for this team.

Brooklyn is investing in youth. They need to see positive returns on those investments during the 2021-22 season.