A review of the Nets' Summer League team and key matchups in Las Vegas prior to the final tournament.
The Nets go into Summer League with a number of players looking to prove themselves, notably undrafted Indiana standout Yogi Ferrel, but also with four players that played significant minutes for the team towards the end of last season. Sean Kilpatrick is somewhat of a surprising addition to the roster given his age and guaranteed contract status for next year, but he has been a staple of Summer League in the past and will get a good opportunity to put his talents on display. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, 2015 rookies who started for the Nets at times last year, will likely be the big-ticket players alongside #42 pick Isaiah Whitehead. Here is a look at the next three games for Brooklyn in the Vegas Summer League.
Saturday, July 9
Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
4:30 PM Eastern Time
The Nets begin Summer League play against the defending champion Cavaliers, albeit against a roster that will contain one of the players that played for Cleveland during their championship run--Jordan McRae, who played four minutes in two games for Cleveland in the 2016 playoffs. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, who started for the Nets down the stretch of last season, will be key for a Brooklyn team that might be extra-motivated to advance in the tournament stages of Summer League to gain experience. Hollis-Jefferson is likely to see far more touches in the Summer League setting than he will next year, so look for both him and McCullough to shoot early and often.
The most interesting match-up in this game is likely to be at point guard, where mighty mites Yogi Ferrel and Kay Felder will look to prove that they have a place in the NBA. Felder might see spot minutes for Cleveland this season after the departure of Matthew Dellavedova, and his offense alone will be a huge spark for the Cavaliers if he can score as well as he did in college last year. Ferrell is a similarly talented scorer with the same elite speed as Felder, although without the ridiculous hops that Felder also brings to the table. This game may well turn on which team's undersized point guard can outscore their opponent.
Monday, July 11
Brooklyn Nets vs. Atlanta Hawks
4:30 PM Eastern Time
Brooklyn will face the Hawks on Monday, a team that won their first game against Houston yesterday. The Nets will need to score against a Hawks team that will feature defensive specialist Lamar Patterson on the wing and mammoth center Edy Tavares in the middle. Sean Kilpatrick will likely be a key factor with his scoring, and may be tasked with much of the offensive load for Brooklyn both in this game and more generally throughout Summer League.
The key match-up in this game will be between recent #12 pick Taurean Prince and Chris McCullough. Atlanta may decide to start Prince at small forward (which would present an equally important match-up with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson), but he will present problems for Brooklyn with his all-around game and rebounding presence. If McCullough can keep Prince off the glass and match or surpass his output offensively, Brooklyn will have a good chance of winning this game.
Tuesday, July 12
Brooklyn Nets vs. Washington Wizards
4:30 PM Eastern Time
Brooklyn's final game before tournament play is against the Washington Wizards, who did not draft any players in 2016. The Nets will be facing a team composed mostly of journeymen and undrafted rookies who will be hungry to prove themselves before the tournament begins. Brooklyn will need to rely on the NBA talent on their roster to defeat what might be an over-matched Wizards team.
The key match-up in this game will be between second-year forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kelly Oubre. Both players started for their teams last season (17 starts for RHJ against 9 starts for Oubre), and both are important future pieces for their respective teams. Hollis-Jefferson cemented his role in Brooklyn rather quickly in his first year, but sadly was derailed by injuries and was limited to only 29 games. Oubre, on the other hand, often looked lost on the court last year but made up for it with occasional displays of the incredible athletic ability that led to him being drafted eight spots ahead of Rondae. Both players showed more promise defensively than offensively last season, and whichever player can force the other into a worse shooting night is likely to turn the matchup in their team's favor.