Last June 26 was a day of big risks for the Nets--big risks with young players.
The team started the day by trading a popular player, Richard Jefferson, for Yi Jianlian, a 20-year-old who had started well, but finished poorly for the Bucks. Then that night, they took chances on two players who had fallen in the draft, Brook Lopez and Chris Douglas-Roberts, while making a reach for another player, Ryan Anderson. Lopez and Anderson, like Yi, are 20. CDR is 21.
We'll be providing occasional updates on the Gamble as the season progresses.
After two preseason games, how's the "June 26 Gamble" working out? The answer has to be so far, so good.
The four have seized their opportunities with three of them--Yi, Lopez and CDR--turning in games that produced double figures in points or rebounds. CDR scored 18 Thursday, Yi 17 on Sunday, while Lopez grabbed 13 boards also on Sunday. Anderson came within one point or rebound of joining them. He had 9 and 9 Thursday.
Douglas-Roberts has the best combined numbers, scoring 23 points and gathering 7 rebounds in 42 minutes, while shooting 10-for-20. Lopez's 13 rebounds is not only the best for NBA rookies so far in preseason...it's the second most among all NBA players who've played. Kevin Durant had 14 for the Thunder vs. the Warriors. Greg Oden's high, in fewer minutes, is 9.
Anderson, who won training camp raves, is playing well but shooting poorly. He is only 1-for-7 from downtown and 5-for-14 overall. He does have 11 points and 11 rebounds--including that 9 and 9 night Thursday--in 38 minutes total.
Overall, the four are shooting 45.6% from the floor, but only 10%--1-for-10--from beyond the arc. Not surprisingly for young players, they're also picking up fouls at a rapid rate, with Lopez and Anderson both being charged with five personals each in a game.
A lot of rookies are playing well, including several taken after the Nets picks. Michael Beasley of the Heat, JaVale McGee of the Wizards, Donte Green and Jason Thompson of the Kings and Nicholas Batum from the Class of 2008 have all had games of 15 points or more. Of the late arrivals to the NBA, Oden looks healthy and dominant and Rudy Fernandez, also of the Blazers, plays a spectacular brand of ball. Still, the Nets brass have to feel they did a good job that night.