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Atkinson challenges Acy to be better

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Quincy Acy hasn’t quite been as impactful in 2017-18 as he, Kenny Atkinson or the Brooklyn Nets had hoped.

He knows it, he’s owned it, and he wants to be better.

So does his head coach.

Acy’s scoring averages have dipped from 6.5 points in 15.9 minutes on 42.5% shooting from the field and 43.4% from three over 32 games in Brooklyn last season to 5.3 points in 18.1 minutes on 33.3% shooting from the field and 34.7% through 13 games this season.

“I still think he’s trying to find his rhythm,” said Atkinson. “I don’t think he’s caught where he was last year. Obviously he gives us the shooting – we like that – but I still think he hasn’t hit his peak form. He’s still searching a little bit.

“But we need more from him. We need him to do more. We need him to shoot better, play better defense and I think he can give us more. I don’t think he’s in a great groove right now, but there’s no question about his work ethic or that he’s a great guy. He fits what we want to do but we need him to play a little better.”

The 6’7” combo forward had never been a consistent three-point threat until arriving to Brooklyn last year from the Texas Legends of the D-League. He had been the last player waived by the Dallas Mavericks following training camp.

So, this is still new for him. Typically, he’s a grinder who outworks and hustles his way to making plays for a team. He added the jump shot while with the Legends then honed it on arrival in Brooklyn. He shot 43.4 percent from three, which if he had enough shots, would have been second best in the NBA, just ahead of his new teammate Allen Crabbe. Of course, the Nets still want him to play the way he did before last year, crashing the boards, hitting the floor, banging away on defense.

“I understand it, it’s just kind of getting used to it,” Acy said in terms of his new role, sort of a stretch 4 plus, searching for a perfect medium. “I haven’t been in this position at all in my entire life, being a stretch big. It’s just kind of like, getting used to that, shooting open shots, even if I miss a few coach still wants me to shoot it, and it’s just finding that confidence in myself and being able to bring it. To bring what I’ve been bringing my whole career as well as the new facets of bring a stretch big.”

While Acy does like his role, the search for a middle ground has eluded him to this point. He’s only shooting 34.7 percent so far this year and his scoring is down to 5.3 points per game in 18 minutes, down from 6.5 in 16 last season.

He admits some of his lack of production has been mental.

“I mean, I like it. I like new challenges,” said Acy. “It’s kind of easy if you really think about it. I think I kind of over complicate it myself. Just finding that balance as far as mixing it up and wanting to go inside and do the dirty work and be around the rim and stretching the floor because I know I’ve worked on it, and it helps the offense.”

Regarding Acy’s over complication of things, Atkinson says the two have discussed it in depth.

“We have. We’ve discussed guys’ roles,” said Atkinson. “When he first came to us last year what we loved about him was doing all the dirty stuff. He was getting all the loose balls, getting the rebounds and (being) kind of our tough guy. We want him to get back to that and still make shots. . . . I’d really love for him to get to that gritty Quincy we know, that toughness, the deflections (and) activity on defense.

“And we’d love for him to shoot the way he did last year.”

That, too.