Devin Harris was Devin Harris and Brook Lopez was Brook Lopez, but the star of Saturday's Open Practice was Chris Douglas-Roberts. The 6' 7" swing man displayed his newly honed skills as a ball handler and passer and generally looked comfortable on the court during the Nets' scrimmage, then was chosen by the team to thank fans who came to the annual event.
Twice, CDR made up-and-under moves that wowed the crowd and had what many thought was the play of the afternoon: an alley-oop at the end of a fast break to camp invitee Bennet Davis. Also looking good was Sean Williams, who had two dramatic blocks on Yi Jianlian, one at the rim. SWat also played solid defense and grabbed a few boards in traffic.
Overall, the team played aggressive defense and displayed a lot of athleticism through the short scrimmage. Shots were not falling, as can be expected this time of year, but some of that may have had to do with the defense.
Here's a player-by-player breakdown, understanding some players saw more action than others.
Devin Harris: Did what he does well, got into the lane when he wanted. Missed a couple of long jumpers but wowed with a couple of moves in heavy traffic. During a post-scrimmage contest, made a half court shot reminiscent of one Philly fans remember.
Brook Lopez: got the ball repeatedly down low and scored on dunks and bank shots. Knocked a Harris layup attempt into the stands. During another contest, he took about 20 half court jumpers. Around the rim most of the time, he made two of them. His form was perfect. Keyon Dooling says he looks more "toned". Dooling's description is accurate.
Yi Jianlian: The good news was he went to the hole several times. The bad news was he didn't finish. There was no hesitation and he does look stronger. Sean Williams ruined his day twice. Active on defense and showed his athleticism. Finished second in the three point shooting contest.
Courtney Lee: Didn't play due a sore foot. Saturday was his birthday and Terrence Williams was forced to serenade him...not memorable.
Jarvis Hayes: No surprise here either. Played solid. Had some issues early with his shot but hit a couple at the end.
Terrence Williams: The kid can pass and play defense. His passes were crisp, quick and with one exception, on target. Guarded closely by Harris, he wasn't that aggressive on offense.
Chris Douglas-Roberts: He wants to be a star. He likes having the ball, but unlike last year, he is willing to play within the team concept. He's wiry strong and as always his athleticism is underrated and deceptive.
Bobby Simmons: He finished fifth in the league in three point shooting last season. He made 10 of 15 from around the arc during one session of three point shooting contest. Contest wasn't really that close. Looks like he's in better shape, appears to have shed a few pounds.
Rafer Alston: Surprise. Who got the biggest round of applause when introduced? Skip to My Lou. He played well, deftly handling the ball, making some nice moves, nice passes. He's 33? Could have fooled us. He is a very good basketball player. Do not sleep on him.
Sean Williams: Focused, active, and on occasion spectacular. He is, as Rod Thorn says, in the upper one to two percent of NBA players in athleticism. There may be hope here...again.
Josh Boone: Physically stronger, it appears. He used his bulk to play some tough defense. His one jump shot...still a work in progress.
Tony Battie: Played with a knee brace and didn't get much time on court. He looked smart when he did.
Trenton Hassell: Played strong defense, alert and active in help defense situations. Didn't see many minutes.
Eduardo Najera: didn't play but promises to be back by Tuesday.
Keyon Dooling: didn't play, still rehabbing from hip surgery. As always, leading the charge off the bench.
Bennet Davis, Will Blalock, Brian Hamilton: The three training camp invites. Davis looked good on offense, Hamilton on D. Blalock not so much. Davis was the beneficiary of CDR's alley oop pass, slamming it home on the run, also made a nice turnaround jumper in the lane. Surprised us.
Some other notables. We didn't see Bruce Ratner who made appearances in the past. He certainly wasn't introduced.
Fans gave a big round of applause to Cliff Robinson who is working out with the team during training camp in hopes of landing an assistant coaching job. Jim Sann, who some had reported as a victim of the financially inspired coaching purge, was on hand. He's a Devin Harris favorite.
It seemed like fewer fans attended than did last year, and certainly there were fewer than two years ago. Those who did brave the rain got what they were looking for: hope.