While much of the coming days’ news will revolve around an overdue breakup between the Brooklyn Nets and Deron Williams, another point guard story is flying under the radar.
Shortly after midnight on July 1, general manager Billy King and head coach Lionel Hollins gave Shane Larkin a ring, which impressed him. The next day, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the 22-year-old agreed to a two-year deal with Brooklyn.
Reactions -- from both Nets fans and others around the league -- seemed to be no more than a shoulder shrug. This is a raw kid, fresh off a season of trying to play on a plummeting New York Knicks team. What’s the big deal?
Well, for starters, he’ll be playing in an offense he’s much more comfortable in.
"(The triangle) just wasn’t the best fit for me," Larkin told reporters when he was introduced on Thursday. "It’s a good system but I’m a pick-and-roll point guard. That’s how I got in the NBA, playing pick-and-roll in college. That’s how I got here and now being back in a system where I can play the pick-and-roll and just getting in the lane, create for others, shoot my floater, and do a bunch of other things."
Larkin is two years removed from his standout sophomore year at Miami, so much of the basketball world has forgotten about him.
But by running the pick-and-roll with two seriously skilled bigs in Brook Lopez and Thad Young, Larkin is likely to give the league a reminder of why he was taken 18th in the 2013 draft.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s be clear: He’s not Brooklyn’s panacea at PG. He’s not D-Will’s replacement either. What is Larkin will be, though, is a shifty, energy-sparking option off the bench.
Those kinds of terms are thrown around a lot these days. Player XYZ is electrifying, and so on.
But the 5’11" former Knick really is. His 44-inch max-vert at the 2013 combine was, at the time, the second-highest ever recorded. He was also the fastest player there, finishing with a 3.08 three-quarter sprint. Just for context, John Wall, who leaves a trail of smoke behind him every time he hits full stride on the fast break, had a 3.14 in 2010.
Larkin is kind of a streaky shooter, often following up double-digit scoring outings in 2014-15 with just a bucket or two the following game. He shot 35.3 percent on all jump shots last season and struggled from three-point land, too (30.2 percent).
While those numbers don’t get Nets fans salivating, Larkin hit 41.4 percent of his running floaters last year (12-29 FG) and knocked down 81.3 percent (13-16 FG) of his pull-up jumpers, per NBA.com. He's also durable. He led the Knicks in minutes last season with 1,865 in 76 games.
Translation: He’s really good at the things he’ll be doing off the pick-and-roll. And he knows it, too:
The Knicks were trying to jam a square in a triangular hole with the second-year jackrabbit last season. With Brooklyn, he’ll be in a system that accentuates his skills, not hides them.
Expect the little fella to have a big year -- probably the best of his green career -- and play well above his $1.5 million annual salary.
It won't be long before all those Nets fans who yawned at the move over the summer wind up cheering for their new second-unit hero in the fall. But one guy who didn't yawn at the prospect was Hollins, who was on the other end of that late-night call and has reportedly followed him since those Miami days.