The Nets, following a busy start to the off-season, fly down to Orlando Saturday to begin their summer league.
Headlined by several undrafted prospects from years past (but none from this year) and few players from last year's roster, the Nets are looking to develop some talent in Florida ... and that includes their new head coach, Jason Kidd.
The games are going on between July 7 through the 12 against the Pistons, Heat, Jazz and Rockets. All the games will be televised on NBA TV. Sunday's opener vs. Detroit starts at 5 p.m. The two best teams will fight it out for the league championship next Friday. The Nets expect to be highly competitive.
Some notable names headlining the roster are Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia, two of three players returnng from last season's summer league roster. Taylor, for one, has impressed at practices this past week leading up to the games. As Kidd says, "I want to see him in this situation, this setting, being the leader, that's what I'm pushing."
Rookie Mason Plumlee also chimed in on the praise, complementing Taylor on his fine play at opening practice Wednesday, "I thought Tyshawn played very well today. He'll definitely be good."
Neither Taylor nor Shengelia received much playing time in Brooklyn last season, but did in Springfield for the Armor in the D-League. With the Nets backup point guard and small forward roles both up for grabs, the two of them could state their case in Orlando.
Plumlee signed his rookie deal with the Nets on Wednesday and has been another player who has turned heads. "I thought Mason looked great," Kidd said. "He’s But I think he understands that situation. … I think the biggest thing is his energy. I think he has a lot to learn about the game, but he had a good morning."
Plumlee took a slide on draft night a week ago, but he has the ability to be a formidable player on the Nets squad. He is very athletic and has fine basketball IQ for a big man. He also possesses a skyhook. With six bigs currently on the roster, it will be up to Kidd to determine how many minutes he'll get once the regular season starts.
Carleton Scott, who also played for the Nets in summer league last season, will return. Scott averaged 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Springfield Armor last season after being one of the last cuts in training camp. A 6'8" small forward who can shoot, Scott went undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2011.
The story that has ruled the media this week, though, is that of Chris Wright, whose been the subject of profiles in both the Washington Post and Newark Star-Ledger.
Wright, out of Georgetown, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in February of 2012. This disease has no known cure and is an attack on the immune system and has a slow progression. Wright, however, played three games for the Mavericks in March after playing in the D-League ... and after being diagnosed. A point guard, Wright could play his way into Nets training camp in September, if things go right over the coming weeks The fact he is even on the summer league roster is an accomplishment.
Some other names of interest are Damion James, who was traded to the Nets on draft night in 2010. He'll be back in a Nets uniform, is trying to find his place in the league after two injury-plagued season in New Jersey, a failed tryout with the Hawks and 10-day contract with Brooklyn last season. David Lighty from Ohio State, who recently won Finals MVP in the French League, will be playing for the Nets as well. Then,
Matching Plumlee's athleticism, Keith Benson is another possible prospect. Benson, 6'11" and 225 pounds, racked up the same vertical leap numbers as Plumlee did at the Pre-Draft Combine, but something Plumlee doesn't, a long wingspan. His lack of offense, however, relegated him to the second round in the 2011 draft and he was waived by the Hawks. Since then, he's played in Italy, been signed to a 10-day contract by the Warriors, played twice for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and had a stint in the Philippines.
A few other names to watch: 6'9" forward Jamelle Hagins from Delaware, 6'5" guard Matt Janning from Northeastern who played last season for Italian powerhouse Montepaschi Siena, and 6'5" guard Dominique Sutton from the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder's D-League affiliate. Janning has had summer league experience with his hometown Celtics as well as the Suns. He can shoot.
The Nets also have taken Kashif Watson, brother of the now departed C.J, to Orlando. Watson played for the Windsor Express in the Canadian League last season after going undrafted in 2010 from Idaho.
Although the Nets are unlikely to sign any of the free agents, a few of them could wind up on the training camp roster ... and the Springfield Armor. Under the CBA, an NBA's team's D-League affiliate automatically acquires the rights to the last three players cut by the parent club. So, if a prospect wants to play in the D-League, rather than the much more lucrative European leagues, the Armor will control his rights.
Most of the attention, of course, will be on the coach, not the players. It will be the first time Kidd will have the clipboard in hand, designing plays, calling timeouts, offering instructions. He and Lawrence Frank are a unit, but Kidd is head coach and a few wins in Orlando can help his, as well as his team's confidence.
Nets’ Taylor out to make his point - Tim Bontemps - New York Post