The Nets went full Euro.
Brooklyn selected Bosnian small forward Dzanan Musa with the 29th pick of Thursday night’s draft at Barclays Center. Eleven picks later, in the second round, the Nets drafted another European wing, Latvian Rodions Kurucs, who spent last season with FC Barcelona Lassa of the Spanish pro league.
Musa just turned 19 years old and stands 6-9. He played for Cedevita of the Croatian league in 2018, averaging 10.5 points per game in 20.2 minutes. Musa was named the EuroCup Rising Star this past season and also earned the Adriatic League Top Prospect Award. He shot 47.5% from the field and 36.4% from three in league play.
“I can’t describe this feeling,” Musa said at his new home arena. “I was very emotional when my name was called. I started crying. This is like the dream come true.”
Musa is a pure scorer but needs to add some pounds — he’s only a touch over 200 — and needs to improve on the defensive end. He will come to the NBA next season. According to ESPN, Musa has a $1 million buyout with Cedevita. If he had agreed to spend another season abroad, some believe he would have gone higher in this draft. And Musa admitted that “most teams” wanted him to remain in Europe.
“But if you want to chase your dreams, you have to just listen to yourself,” added Musa, who can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward. “And my heart told me that my place is here.”
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz watched Musa play in Croatia this past season and offered this assessment: “He’s aggressive. He can shoot it on the move. He loves to get downhill and attack in space… Now he needs to improve as a defender. He needs to improve his physicality. He can sometimes turn teammates off with his body language. But at 6-9, and his ability to get buckets, there’s a lot to like there.”
Nets GM Sean Marks reportedly scouted Musa first-hand in Croatia back in March, more than a month before he declared for the draft.
“His offensive skills are pretty special,” Marks said after the draft.
Musa made his professional debut on October 15, 2015, when he was just 16 years and 160 days old, making him the ninth-youngest EuroLeague player in history. Luka Doncic, the Slovenian 19-year-old who went third overall Thursday night, debuted one day after Musa but was 69 days older.
Kurucs, 20, is 6-9 as well, offering more length at wing for the Nets, who had a significant need there entering this draft. He’s also expected to come to the NBA next season, according to Marks.