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Isaiah Whitehead uses Long Island “rhythm” in return to Brooklyn

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It was a crazy 24 hours for Isaiah Whitehead ... and one he needed badly. On Sunday, the Nets guard was in Canton, Ohio, playing for the G-League Long Island Nets. He led Long Island to a win over the Charge, Cleveland’s affiliate, scoring 32 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in 37 minutes of action.

Then, with the Nets hurting, the call went down to Long Island’s coach, Ronald Nored: Get Isaiah on a plane to Houston. We need him. Anthony Puccio laid out what happened next...

Final total: a career high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with three rebounds, three assists and a steal ... and another 24 minutes. He used a lot of the same moves. Turnovers were still a problem. He had five (and racked up seven in Canton.)

Still, for a guy who had been an after-thought most of Brooklyn’s season, Whitehead’s performance was a reminder of his game, the Nets’ “next man up” philosophy ... and the value of the G-League.

Kenny Atkinson smiled a lot post-game talking about the Seton Hall product’s performance, noting that his game against Canton “gave him the rhythm. He's not coming here cold and out of rhythm. He's playing in the same system with Long Island.”

Once in the game, he seized the opportunity and brought the Nets back from their first quarter debacle.

“Against a talented team like that ... Llisten, Isiah has a talent,” said the coach. “He's still a young guy (22). He's got to cut his turnovers down. I keep telling him. I think if he can control that a little bit, but I liked his presence, I liked how he competed.”

As for his future, particularly when the team gets healthy again, Atkinson noted that the organization expects to give him time with Long Island to “fine tune” them, but bringing him up when needed.

“He's got the physical tools with his size. He's strong, lower body too. He's got an NBA body. There's just things to fine tune and he's going to fine tune it this year. You're going to see him back and forth, which is great. I'm really excited about our G-League team, how much that's going to help us. I think it already has.”

One thing seems certain: The Nets have a $1.5 million team option on Whitehead that they have to exercise in June. Before they make that decision, they’re going to give him a lot of opportunities in both places.

“That's kind of the model. That's why we have the G-League,” Atkinson noted.