Chris McCullough is averaging more than 19 points and eight rebounds with Long Island, hitting 37 percent of his threes and looking like an NBA player. Progress? Certainly, but don’t expect the Nets to bring him soon. There’s still some development to go.
Kenny Atkinson says of his stay with Long Island, "The feedback we’re getting is great... Very positive."
Atkinson told Zach Braziller that D-League coach Ronald Nored described Mccullough’s progress as "night and day."
But is it enough? Atkinson says there are areas where the 6’10" forward needs work.
"I think really physically he’s got a ways to go," Atkinson said. "Just strength. He’s still a young guy with not a lot of experience. He had that knee injury in college. Just understand what we’re trying to do in our system. Defensively, there’s definitely improvement [that] has to be made."
McCullough, the second youngest player on the Brooklyn Nets, is under contract through next season, at what’s a bargain price of $1,242,840. The Nets can extend his contract in October and retain him at a fourth year rookie rate of $2,243,326. So there’s plenty of time.
Meanwhile, the team’s youngest player, Isaiah Whitehead is getting kudos for his fill-in role at point guard, with Jeremy Lin out and Greivis Vasquez waived.
"The focus right now with him is to really defend the position and then offensively he’s got to find his way," Atkinson told Greg Logan. "I think he’s getting better in both areas, but I would say he’s progressed most defensively."
But like McCullough, Whitehead, too, is a bargain. The Nets have him under contract through 2019-20, with team options the last two year. Over those four years, he won’t make more than roughly one percent of the salary cap.
Whitehead has a a long way to go, but there are moments where he shines, like his block on Rudy Gobert. In what Logan called "a leap of faith," Whitehead, with a nine-inch deficit, rose up in the paint and swatted the ball away. It’s not his first surprising block. Why would attempt such thing, knowing he was more likely to wind up on a poster than a video highlight.
His attitude is all about New York, says Sean Kilpatrick.
"When you’re from New York and when you have a guy like that who’s kind of fearless, I think it’s something that really helps him and it helps our team because Jeremy goes out and you have Isaiah who’s playing starter minutes."
One thing Atkinson, another New Yorker, would like to see in Whitehead: "taking command."
"But we need him to take more command," Atkinson said. It’s a process, says Whitehead.
- Nets happy with progress of their stashed first-rounder - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Nets think Isaiah Whitehead has makings of a leader - Greg Logan - Newsday