Brooklyn managed to win three of their five Summer League games, including impressive performances from Sean Kilpatrick and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Brooklyn came into Las Vegas with a few open roster spots, all of which were filled by the time the tournament ended. While Brooklyn didn't sign any of the players they brought in for Summer League, their NBA talent impressed during their week in Vegas.
Saturday, July 9
Brooklyn Nets 79, Cleveland Cavaliers 73
Brooklyn won their first Summer League game against Cleveland with a strong offensive showing from Sean Kilpatrick and great defense from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Kilpatrick was a solid scorer at the NBA level last season and displayed his scoring gifts against the Cavaliers' roster. He ended up shooting 7-12 on the night for 19 points and shot well from all over the floor. He only shot 1-3 from behind the arc but was perfect from the free-throw line and didn't take any bad shots.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson only shot 1-5, but he was impressive on the defensive end of the floor; his skill there will be key for Brooklyn improving their defense next season. Hollis-Jefferson ended the night with 7 steals and held Cleveland's starting forward duo to just 2-11 shooting on the night. Hollis-Jefferson is an elite athlete with a massive 7'2" wingspan, and he displayed a great knack for jumping into passing lanes and generally making opposing players' nights miserable on offense.
Monday, July 11
Brooklyn Nets 72, Atlanta Hawks 65
Brooklyn won their second Summer League game with a strong performance from second-year forward Chris McCullough. McCullough, who is in line for a decent number of minutes next season after the departure of Thaddeus Young, scored 16 points on just 8 shots, including 2-2 on 3-pointers. McCullough also grabbed 8 rebounds in his second straight Summer League game, an area in which he struggled last year in the NBA. McCullough is slowly growing into his body but will need to put on a little more weight to be able to effectively body up power forwards on the NBA level. However, his great shooting stroke from the 4 spot will make him make him a reliable weapon for Brooklyn in the years to come.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was far more effective offensively in this game. Although he only shot 3-8 in the game, he led both teams in assists and did a surprisingly good job in facilitating the offense. He also grabbed another 3 steals and was his usual pesky self on the defensive end. Hollis-Jefferson is unlikely to play much of a creator role for Brooklyn next year, especially with Jeremy Lin and rookie guards Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead likely taking most of the ball-handling duties, but he can increase his offensive output for Brooklyn if he continues to get better at reading the floor and making smart passes.
Wednesday, July 12
Washington Wizards 87, Brooklyn Nets 85
Brooklyn lost their third Summer League game despite a strong offensive performance from Hollis-Jefferson. Rondae scored 19 points on 7-14 shooting, including 7 rebounds. While he had five turnovers against just one assist, he was able to get to the rim and score; he also shot 5-6 from the free throw line. Hollis-Jefferson's offensive game is still developing, but his efficiency in this game on a decent number of shots is a good indicator for future offensive improvement.
After scoring more points than shots taken in his first two games, Isaiah Whitehead had trouble scoring against the Wizards in this game. He scored 10 points on 4-13 shooting, including a troubling 2-8 from 2-point range. One of the biggest knocks against Whitehead's offense coming into the draft was his inefficiency in scoring at the rim. Whitehead will need to improve his finishing if he wants to play a major role in Brooklyn's offense next year.
Thursday, July 14
Brooklyn Nets 87, Philadelphia 76'ers 84
Brooklyn won their first tournament game against the 76'ers with strong performances from all four of the NBA players on their Summer League roster. Sean Kilpatrick scored 24 points on 19 shots, while also grabbing 8 rebounds. Chris McCullough put up a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put up 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Isaiah Whitehead bounced back well from his poor performance against the Hawks, shooting 50% from the floor and 3-point range. He also did a great job running the offense for Brooklyn and led the team with five assists against just one turnover. Whitehead will probably see minutes at both guard positions for Brooklyn next season, and efficiently creating shots for his team-mates will be a big factor in his development.
Saturday, July 16
Cleveland Cavaliers 91, Brooklyn Nets 83
In a rematch of their first Summer League game, Brooklyn was knocked out of the tournament by the Cavaliers. Sean Kilpatrick put up another strong shooting performance, scoring 25 points on 18 shots despite shooting just 1-9 from behind the arc. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also had a strong game, shooting 4-7 and putting up 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Brooklyn lost this game due to horrendous shooting nights from both Chris McCullough and Isaiah Whitehead. McCullough shot a ghastly 2-16 from the floor. While his 10 rebounds did contribute to Brooklyn's effort, his Plus-Minus of -15 was last on the team. Whitehead didn't fare much better, shooting 2-12 from the floor and 1-3 from the free throw line. Both players were decently efficient on offense during their other four games in Vegas (despite Whitehead 4-13 performance against the Wizards), so their terrible shooting in the last game seems like more of an aberration than a worrying trend. Neither player is likely to shoot that many times in a game during the regular season, so this particular performance should be taken with a grain of salt.
Overall, Brooklyn's NBA players had strong Summer League performances. Kilpatrick's offensive wizardry was on full display, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a destructive defensive force; both players are likely to see big minutes next year in those respective roles. Chris McCullough showed better rebounding work than he had in his first NBA season, and will hope to build on that going into next year. Isaiah Whitehead seemed comfortable as both a primary and a secondary ball-handler, and could earn himself major minutes coming off the bench if he can build on that going into next season. If these young players can carry their strengths in Summer League into their next NBA seasons, Brooklyn will have a youth movement to build on over the next few seasons.