In one of his first moves as general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks signed former Cincinnati star and White Plains native Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract.
Kilpatrick, who played 4 games for the Timberwolves last season and 8 games for the Nuggets earlier this season, was undrafted in 2014 and immediately went to the D-League, where he played with Santa Cruz and Delaware before signing a 10-day contract with Minnesota. He started this year with the Pelicans but was cut in preseason and went back to Delaware to lead the league in scoring.
This prompted Denver to bring him up for two 10-day contracts but, after those expired, he was reacquired by the 87ers, only to get the call from the Nets about a month later. Since Marks signed Kilpatrick to that first 10-day deal on February 28, all he's done for the Nets is score leading to a second 10-day and then a multi-year contract over the weekend.
The 6'4" combo guard has posted a gaudy .506/.500/.909 shooting slashline in his 10 games with the Nets, accounting for over 12 points per game. Since he's not a prolific defender, passer or rebounder, Kilpatrick's only real value to the team is with his scoring, but since he can put points up in so many different ways, he's a terror to defend.
His three-point shooting exploits may be the most eye-catching, but Kilpatrick is also effective at scoring inside the arc as well. He's deceptively quick, especially over screens -- such as the one set by Thomas Robinson above against Denver -- and is able to flash at the foul line and get his floater off before it can be blocked. Instead of going all the way to the rim, and possibly be blocked by Joffrey Lauvergne, Kilpatrick shoots from the hip for an easy two.
It's a shot very reminiscent of that of a former Net -- Joe Johnson -- who made many a floater for Brooklyn front that spot on the floor. Obviously Kilpatrick doesn't have the size that Joe boasts, but he has his own array of shots that he can make consistently and confidently.
It's not a real surprise that a guy who averaged 26.4 points on 47 percent shooting in the D-League doesn't have trouble taking good shots, but Kilpatrick's ability to catch a defense napping is another characteristic that he has demonstrated in him in Brooklyn.
Here, a simple dribble handoff with Shane Larkin, which usually signals the start of an offensive set for the Nets, turns into a quick 18-footer for Kilpatrick. Rashad Vaughn (No. 20 on the Bucks) isn't expecting Kilpatrick to turn the corner as fast as he does, leaving the 26-year old wide open.
That ability to score in the mid-range forces defenders to extend out onto Kilpatrick on screens when they normally could lay back at the rim. Here, Nerlens Noel has to hedge when Thomas Robinson's picks Kilpatrick's defender, which lets Kilpatrick -- with Noel out of position -- get to the rim and draw a foul. Free throws -- he has taken just 22 with the Nets -- aren't a huge part of Kilpatrick's game but he has the ability to get to the line when necessary.
Most players with his shooting ability and size have trouble among the trees in the paint but Kilpatrick's body control is pretty good, allowing him to maneuver his way through a defense.
As shown in these last two clips, one of Kilpatrick's negatives is his propensity to take long twos, which -- statistically -- are inferior to three-pointers in terms of pure value. But, like he does in both plays, his play-making ability when faced up with a defender at the perimeter is undeniable.
In the 76ers play, Kilpatrick uses a sharp and low crossover dribble to get Hollis Thompson on his heels, which gives him the space needed to drill a 23-footer. Of course, Tony Brown would like his second-year guard to take the additional step back behind the arc on a play like that, but it shows off Kilpatrick's smooth stroke and surprising handles.
Against the Bucks, just with the help of a screen from Chris McCullough, Kilpatrick is able to knock down a jumper over the taller Vaughn. It's still pretty good defense but any bit of space Kilpatrich can get on the perimeter is more than enough for him.
His talent and skillset aside, one of the more promising aspects of Kilpatrick's game -- through his 10-game stint with Brooklyn -- is his confidence. Rarely does he hesitate with the ball in his hands or take off-balanced shots in which his feet aren't set. Like he did against Denver, Kilpatrick shoots pretty well from three-point range with defenders in his face, regardless of how far behind the arc he is.
As a shooting-challenged team, the Nets don't have many guys who can make open threes, let alone threes that are contested. But since Brooklyn's ball movement is usually spotty and playmakers aren't abundant, a lot of the threes the Nets take aren't open. That doesn't matter for Kilpatrick, as Will Barton can attest to.
He also has a very quick release, which certainly helps him avoid having his shot blocked, even with bigger defenders guarding him. That's important for Kilpatrick, because, as an undersized two-guard, he can't shoot over guys; he needs to shoot before opponents can get their hands up quick enough to contest him.
So, how does a clear scoring talent like Sean Kilpatrick slip through the cracks, even after a successful college career and dominant stints in the D-League? Well, he doesn't have a defined position, because a 6'4" frame is that of a tweener, not a prototypical point or shooting guard. What's clear is that -- even in relatively limited minutes -- he can flat out score in a variety of ways. A lot of NBA players can score, but many are one-dimensional in their repertoire, which separates Kilpatrick from the pack and makes him a really interesting future piece for the Nets.