The Nets will face their first NBA competition early Sunday morning --very early Sunday morning, like 1 a.m. ET-- when they take the court vs. the Sacramento Kings at the Mercedes-Benz Center in Shanghai, China. It's a battle between the NBA's two only foreign owned clubs, the Nets owned by Russia's Mikhail Prokhorov against the Kings owned by India's Vivek Ranadive.
On the face, the Kings would appear to be young, athletic and exciting, with two All-Stars in DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay and two exciting youngsters in Nick Stauskas and second year player Ben McLemore. But the Kings seem to be a perpetual rebuilding mode and are likely lottery team once again. That's not to say they won't test the Nets in those areas where Brooklyn is lacking, like rebounding and defending athleticism. At least that was the case last season.
The Kings had an interesting off season, taking Stauskas, a sharpshooter's sharpshooter, from Canada no less. They also lost Isaiah Thomas, the diminutive but exciting point guard, for nothing while taking on journeyman Darren Collison. That doesn't sound like smart management.
Cousins is the touchstone of Sacramento's hopes. He averaged 22.7 points, 10.x rebounds and a surprising 2.9 assists. How much he will play is another matter. The other day, he said, "I feel like I’m about 45 years old." Sacramento's schedule makers haven't helped. The Kings play seven exhibition games in six cities — Vancouver, Sacramento, Shanghai, Beijing, Sacramento, San Antonio and Las Vegas — and three countries. And of course, Cousins and Gay both played throughout the summer for Team USA.
Gay, now 28, could become a valuable trade asset if the Kings want to kick their rebuilding into high gear. He is a free agent in July, making $19.3 million. They'd like to keep him, but eight years and counting without a playoff game isn't much of a recruiting tool.
For the Nets, it was much the same: another hour and a half practice at the Mercedes-Benz Center, this time with all 17 players on the court.
Where to follow the game
The question is more, how to follow the game. With a lot of caffeine? NBA TV is carrying both games in China. YES will not be broadcasting either game. Play starts at 1 a.m., ET, 1 p.m. in Shanghai. The game will be re-broadcast at 8:30 a.m., also on NBA TV.
Player to Watch: Mason Plumlee
Lionel Hollins says he intends to play the Nets younger players in both games. Plumlee qualifies. Against Maccabi Tel Aviv, he backed up Brook Lopez and came away with 10 points, on 5-of-10 shooting, along with six boards and two blocks in 24 minutes. He also picked up four fouls and had three turnovers, most of them early.
Plumlee and Cousins made fast friends while teammates on Team USA. Plumlee also spent a lot of practices guarding Cousins and so should have some advantage.
Other young Nets likely to see more minutes are Sergey Karasev, Markel Brown and of course Bojan Bogdanovic. In effect, it is the first test of the Nets youth movement. Alan Anderson isn't part of the youth movement but he should see some action, having recovered from his abdominal muscle strain.
From the Vault
Considering the Nets international scout once called Bojan Bogdanovic "a cross between Peja Stojakovic and Carlos Delfino" and Billy King once called him "Peja-lite," we offer this video of vintage Peja, a shootout with Dirk Nowitzki.
We can only hope!
- Global Games: Nets vs Kings (Video) - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets take selfies, get set for Shanghai series - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Nets hope to form a bond in China - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Cousins reminiscent of FIBA World Cup tour, Garnett blessed by his 20th season - Xinhua
- Kings vs. Nets Preview: Brooklyn and Sacramento clash in Shanghai - Ayklis
- Kings leave for China with a few things to work on - Jason Jones - Sacramento Bee
- Kings guard Nik Stauskas surprised by reaction to comments - Jason Jones - Sacramento Bee
- SHANGHAI: Kings, NBA court foreign fans with exhibition game in China - Stuart Leavenworth - Merced Sun Star