The Brooklyn Nets will play their first Summer League game on Friday. What are some aspects to look out for as the Nets head to Las Vegas?
It’s that time again! Yes, free agency is still ongoing, but free agency is the only live Brooklyn Nets basketball we’ll see until…October. After this summer foray in Sin City, we won’t see the spin moves of Isaiah Whitehead, the flashes of Caris LeVert’s potential, and that trademark Brooklyn Nets offense we all know and love. While Summer League essentially may not matter at the end of the day, it’s basketball. And we love basketball. Especially the Brooklyn Nets kind.
In preparation for the Brooklyn Nets 2017 Summer League campaign, here’s a look at five storylines heading into Las Vegas.
1. Projecting the Brooklyn Nets young core
There will be five Brooklyn Nets roster members playing for the Summer League squad. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead, Spencer Dinwiddie and Archie Goodwin will all suit up for the Vegas Nets. First-round draft pick Jarrett Allen was also slated to play as well, but he will be out due to a hip flexor injury. (Don’t worry, it’s likely just a precautionary measure.) The Brooklyn Nets youth movement is in full effect.
Each of these players possesses potential, but they each should use Summer League to showcase the skills they’ve been working on in the offseason. For Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie, their pure point guard skills may be seen front and center. Caris LeVert, while maybe, possibly, optimally could be an All-Star candidate for the depleted East next season (OK, I’ll step off the homer pedestal), but it’ll be interesting to see if he’s gotten any stronger. The perimeter shooting of Goodwin, Whitehead and Hollis-Jefferson will be under the microscope in frenzied Summer League play. While the games may not amount to much in the grand scheme of the Brooklyn Nets game plan, strong performances could be reasons for hope heading into the long hiatus heading into the season.
2. Diamonds in the rough
The Nets are no stranger to D-League success stories. With a sinkhole of draft picks, the Nets need to find talent anywhere they can - that starts with Summer League. Jeremy Lin, Sean Kilpatrick, Spencer Dinwiddie and other Nets roster members rose from relative obscurity to solid rotation roles.
The other ten members of the Brooklyn Nets summer league squad all have their own chance to prove their worth. Here’s a list of players we’ll see alongside familiar faces:
- Nathan Boothe, Big, Flexx Pistoia (Italy)
- Milton Doyle, Guard, Loyola Chicago
- Prince Ibeh, Big, Long Island Nets
- Tahjere McCall, Combo, Tennessee State
- J.J. Moore, Wing, Long Island Nets
- Kamari Murphy, Forward, Miami
- Vincent Poirier, Big, Paris-Levallois (France)
- Rodney Pryor, Wing, Georgetown
- Jeremy Senglin, Guard, Weber State
- Jake Wiley, Forward, Eastern Washington
While the Nets’ roster is full (for now) there could be interesting dark horses to stash on Long Island or track in the future. Doyle, McCall, and Senglin are interesting combo guards with knacks for getting to the basket or shooting from deep. Moore and Pryor are hard-working wings with intriguing fits in the modern NBA. Boothe, Poirier, Murphy, Ibeh and Wiley are solid bigs with exciting upside, but with some skill concerns. Depending on the Nets’ roster makeup, these players could shine in Summer League and parlay that to a shot at the big leagues.
Let’s not forget that the Brooklyn Nets could also look to other teams for talent as well. Summer League players not signed to contracts are up for grabs for any team. Summer League isn’t just for evaluating in-house talent – it’s for scouting potential steals as well. Call it a Jonathon Simmons signing.
Also, with the advent of two-way contracts, Sean Marks could look to become exclusive with two of these players. Jake Wiley, the explosive power forward out of Eastern Washington, has signed a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Under this agreement, the Nets will control the rights of the two-way contract player and can shuttle the player between Long Island and Brooklyn, essentially the 16th and 17th members of the NBA roster. No Yogi Ferrell situations here.
While we’re here, take a look at some Jeremy Senglin highlights.
3. The multi-guard attack
The Brooklyn Nets have a surplus of guards. Jeremy Lin and new acquisition D’Angelo Russell seem to be the de facto starters, barring any major changes. Sean Kilpatrick, Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert and Archie Goodwin will all be vying for minutes in Brooklyn’s Backcourt™ as well. Especially with a perceived lack of small forward depth, Brooklyn may look to play smaller. So one stylistic aspect to watch for the Nets is how they handle multiple guard lineups. Summer League players like Whitehead, Dinwiddie, Senglin and Doyle all have point guard skills, and the Nets could play them all in the same lineup.
The Brooklyn Nets coaching staff could be experimenting with schemes and skills as well. While the thought of playing three “point guards” at once may seem counterintuitive, the Nets’ offense does seem to be position-less and fluid. There are “playmakers,” not true point guards. Every player, within the context of the Brooklyn Nets/Kenny Atkinson scheme, should be able to attack off the dribble. That could cause headaches for defenses. The use of multi-guard lineups would be a coaching aspect to keep in mind with a Nets roster full of playmakers.
4. Battle of the bigs
The Nets have a deep lineup of bigs. Andrew Nicholson, Trevor Booker, Quincy Acy, Justin Hamilton and Timofey Mozgov are all veteran rotation pieces. But outside of Jarrett Allen (who may need some time to develop before getting big minutes) and recent power forward convert Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn is lacking in frontcourt youth. They could look to Summer League for shots at the upside. Kamari Murphy, Vincent Poirier, Prince Ibeh, Jake Wiley and Nathan Boothe have the incentive to impress in front of Kenny Atkinson, Sean Marks and the Nets’ coaching staff. (And us, the basketball-hungry fans.)
Of the five Summer League bigs, Jake Wiley and Prince Ibeh could have the biggest chance of making an impact. Wiley’s athleticism and motor project well as a “modern” NBA power forward, similar to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Wiley is still unrefined on the offensive end, lacking a shot, but his insane production at Eastern Washington shows his solid upside. Ibeh has the mold of a successful shot blocker and explosive finisher but hasn’t had the production yet. He, along with Cliff Alexander, was a Nets blink-of-an-eye 10-day contract players, essentially the Nets filling a favor for the two. Ibeh, potentially, could be a strong rim protector. The Texas product could use Summer League to show more refined skills.
5. Brooklyn Nets - Summer League Contenders?
The Brooklyn Nets have a solid chance of making a deep run in the playoffs…of the Las Vegas Summer League. I know. In the end, the Summer League doesn’t matter. But the Nets are in such a franchise rut that any winning would be a source of optimism for a hungry fanbase. The Nets will have five members of their roster on the Summer League squad, and two potential starters in LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson. It may not be the greatest accomplishment, but an exciting development nonetheless.
The wins may not come for the Nets in the regular season, but summer is always the time for hope going forward.
The Brooklyn Nets will play their first Las Vegas Summer League game on Friday, July 7 against the Atlanta Hawks.