EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Before the NBA draft began on Thursday, New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King wanted to make sure that his team got better from the perimeter, got better rebounding and got a little tougher.
King feels he accomplished all three.
“It’s what we addressed going in,” King said after the Nets acquired Providence guard Marshon Brooks in a trade with Boston, after the Celtics selected the nation’s No. 2 scorer with the No. 25 pick, then acquired Croatian swingman Bojan Bogdanovic in a cash deal with Minnesota, and drafted Maryland forward Jordan Williams with their second-round pick.
“We needed scoring, rebounding and toughness. If we can get that from these guys, then it was a good draft.”
The Nets selected JaJuan Johnson of Purdue with their first pick, No. 27 overall, then traded the 6-10 Johnson to Boston along with a 2014 second-round pick for the rights for Brooks, who was the leading scorer in the Big East Conference last season.
The 6-5 Brooks, who averaged 24.6 points per game last season, with a career-high of 52 against Notre Dame and 43 vs. Georgetown, is compared by NBA scouts to Josh Howard and Jordan Crawford. The 22-year-old shooting guard gradually increased his scoring average over all four seasons at Providence.
“You like to take four-year players,” King said, “because you can see their progress and they understand what it takes to be a good basketball player.”
Brooks went from a 10.6-points-per-game scorer as a sophomore, to 14.2 as a junior. He then made the huge leap to nearly 25 as a senior. Brooks also grabbed seven rebounds per game, shot 48 percent from the floor, and 34 percent from 3-point range. He scored in double figures in all 32 Providence games last season.
Born in Long Branch, N.J., Brooks moved to Georgia as a youngster.
“I’m very excited to play for the Nets,” Brooks said. “They have very good management and I want to go and help them win as many games as possible. At Providence, I had to do a lot of scoring and in a way, I had to. But if I can get along with the best point guard in the NBA in Deron Williams, I can get a lot of open shots.”
Brooks was projected by some draft experts to go as high as No. 14, so the Nets moved quick to acquire a shooting guard to possibly compliment Deron Williams, their All-Star point guard who was shipped to New Jersey by Utah earlier this year.
“We had Marshon ranked very high and we didn’t think he’d be there when we were supposed to pick,” King said. “We made a call to Boston to see if they would flip-flop. It worked out well. Marshon is a proven scorer and is a player who knows how to put the ball in the hole.”
Brooks was slated to work out with the Nets June 9, but missed the workout due to an ankle injury.
After acquiring Brooks, the Nets then snared Bojan Bogdanovic, a 6-7 shooting guard from Croatia. He was the first pick of the second round, the No. 31 overall selection, who was drafted by Miami, then shipped to Minnesota and finally to New Jersey for cash.
The 22-year-old Bogdanovic averaged 18 points per game last season for Fenerbache Istanbul of the Turkish professional league and is still currently under contract with the team, so his immediate availability to the Nets is in question. He might not be eligible for NBA play until 2012-2013.
Ironically, Bogdanovic worked out for the Nets earlier Thursday and had a workout with the squad three weeks ago.
The Nets then completed their draft work by taking 6-10 forward Jordan Williams of Maryland with their own pick, No. 36 overall.
Jordan Williams, who left school early anticipating that he would be a first-round selection, averaged 16.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore for the Terrapins. He shot 53 percent from the floor, but only connected on 57 percent from the free throw line.
“We needed to get a pure rebounder,” King said. “Once we got Marshon, we had to improve our rebounding and Williams helps.”
Over his career as a general manager, King has now been involved in 10 different draft-day trades.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)