With $8 million in sunk costs, shouldn't the Nets be getting more out of their investment in Toko Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor?
The Nets had to pay $2.75 million for the picks they used to take them, $2 million to buy the #41 pick (Taylor) and $750,000 to buy the #54 pick (Shengelia). They also paid a reported $300,000 to buy out Shengelia's contract with his Belgian team. Both were given guaranteed two-year rookie minimum contracts, each valued at $1,262,476. Then add the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax the Nets have to pay and the grand total for the two of them is $8,099,904.
That's a lot of money for two guys who've spent a total of 152 minutes on the court in the NBA.
A couple of weeks ago, the two spent a week in Springfield and wowed the D-League. Shengelia, as Bob MacKinnon, the Armor coach noted, was the best player in the D-League, bar none, and there are a lot of players from NBA rosters in the D-League. In two games before he suffered a mild concussion, Shengelia averaged 31.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 41.0 minutes. He shot 76 percent from the floor (25-of-33) while going 4-of-7 (57 percent) from behind the three-point line. Yikes.
Taylor played almost as well in three games down on the farm. He averaged 24.7 points, 8.7 assists plus 5 rebounds, also in 41 minutes. He shot 45.3 percent overall and 44.4 percent from deep. Both had played well in their other game in Springfield, a quick up-and-down in December. Shengelia had a triple-double and Taylor a 32 point effort in that game. Overall, they rank Nos. 1 and 3 in D-League scoring this season.
As noted over the weekend, Taylor has expressed frustration with his playing time in Brooklyn and said he enjoyed his opportunity in Springfield. "I like being there to get the competition," Taylor told the Hudson County Reporter. "It’s fun to get out and play, show what I still can do. It’s good for my confidence."
Yet compared with other NBA teams, particularly those like the Rockets, Thunder, Spurs and Celtics who have single team affiliations, the Nets haven't made as much use of their D-League team. Perry Jones III of the Thunder has had two tours at the Tulsa 66ers, playing 11 games. Fab Melo of the Celtics has played 19 games in Maine. Cory Joseph of the Spurs has been up and down four times, playing a total of 18 games. The list goes on and on. A total of 50 NBA players, a record, have been assigned to D-League affiliates this season.
One reason the Nets were so reluctant to move players up the Thruway and MassPike to Springfield was Avery Johnson, who in particular liked to have three point guards on hand. And Taylor may actually get some playing time vs. the Lakers with Deron Williams and C.J. Watson having sore ankles. But if the Nets are going to develop these two players and others in the future, it may be time for them to give them their 40 minutes a game in Springfield.