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D-League coach Nored: Our top priority is developing Nets players

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Long Island Nets head coach Ronald Nored left no doubt Friday about the organization’s top priority in the D-League: development of the Brooklyn Nets’ youth, not finding diamonds-in-the-rough.

“Those assignments, that’s the No. 1 reason for the D-League,” said Nored. Speaking at the L.I. Nets Media Day at Barclays, “We’re a resource for them. Also for the players to come down and get better. That’s our focus. Our guys know that. The guys in this gym, they know that. If guys were to be assigned to our team, we’re here to help those guys grow and get better. “

Kenny Atkinson has already said Isaiah Whitehead and Chris McCullough will likely spend time with Long Island and it’s expected that Caris LeVert may also finish up his rehab with a tour of the D-League.

In the past, the Nets priorities with their previous D-League venture, the Springfield Armor, were foggy ... at best.

Over three years the Nets had a D-League affiliate in Springfield, a NetsDaily survery found that Nets roster players averaged only 23 player/days per year with the Armor. Of the D-League clubs with single affiliates back then, only the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks affiliate, had fewer assignments with 22.

Compare that number with those of teams who've had the most success with the D-League. On average, the Spurs, whose D-League affiliate was run by Sean Marks, sent their players down to Austin for 66.7 days a year during that three year period; the Thunder 79.7 and the Rockets led the league with 142 days!

Beyond the change in philosophy, the Nets have a big logistical advantage they didn’t have in Springfield.

“Fortunately for us we’re in the same building. We practice in the same building, we play in the same building, we run the same system (as the Nets),” said Nored, talking about Barclays Center and the HSS Training Center. “So, if that were to happen, guys come down with a seamless transition, no confusion. They can just come and play and get better.”

Nored, who played under Brad Stevens at Butler and worked in the Celtics organization under the well-regarded Stevens, thinks the opportunity to play at Barclays is a big deal for his players. Not to mention that an NBA GM is likely to be “20 feet away” during practices at HSS.

“It’s very rare to get to play any games in an NBA arena in the D-League, but to play every game in the Barclays Center is a great opportunity for us,” Nored said. “Our guys need to understand that and come to play every day and be thankful for this opportunity.”

Unaware no expansion team has ever made the D-League playoffs, the 26-year-old Nored said he likes that his team is athletic, long and filled with “good guys.”

Nored had particularly positive things to say about Yogi Ferrell, the last player cut by Nets in preseason and now hoping for a chance with the big team. Nored knows him well.

“A guy that was one of my coaches at Butler was Yogi’s high school coach,” said Nored. “My four years of college were his four years of high school, so I’ve known him for a long time. We’ve already been able to build a great relationship through Brooklyn Nets training camp, through Summer League and that’s continuing on now. I think Yogi’s a heck of a player, I think he’s got the opportunity to move past the D-League and into the NBA one day. I think he’s that talented, so we’re expecting a lot from him.”

For his part, Ferrell said his top priority was to be a “pest” on defense and be ready to hit the open shot when available. He also said he and his teammates were looking forward to playing their home games at Barclays Center.

Scattered around the practice court at Barclays were a lot of other young (and not so young) hopefuls, like local product, J.J. Moore of Brentwood, who after playing at Rutgers and Pitt had spent last season in Mexico. He’s a 6’6” swingman. Ferrell’s two summer league teammates, Egidijus Mockevicius and Beau Beech were on hand as well as 6’9” Palpreet Singh Brar of India, who admitted he cried when he heard he’d been drafted last week. Mockevicius and Singh Brar are likely to man the post for the D-Leaguers.

Not on hand were two players who the team believes can be big pieces: Boris Dallo, their top pick in the D-League Draft, who’s had passport issues in his native France. He could be in New York this week, said a family source; and former Cavalier draft pick Carrick Felix, a 6’6” shooting guard. He had a previous commitment.

The Long Islanders have an intrasquad game today at Long Island Lutheran in Glen Head, then a preseason game a week from Tuesday before opening in Chicago vs. the Windy City Bulls on November 11. They play three games on the road before opening at home on November 23 vs. the Canton Charge.