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Nicholson — and Atkinson — excited by possibilities in Brooklyn

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The big attraction in yesterday’s trade with the Wizards was the 2017 first round pick, but the Nets also acquired power forward Andrew Nicholson from Washington Wizards, who signed a four-year, $26 million deal last summer after spending his first four seasons with the Magic.

Two hours before Thursday’s trade deadline, Nicholson, 27, was officially introduced to the media after his first practice with the team. The 6’9” St. Bonaventure grad with a degree in physics (!) exuded a level of enthusiasm about his new beginning.

"I'm excited just to be part of the organization,” Nicholson said after his first run with the team. “It's a blessing of an opportunity to be here. I'm starting to meet everybody - players, coaching staff, I'm just excited."

Despite having been in the league for four seasons, Nicholson has never averaged more than 16.7 minutes per contest, which he did in 2012-13, his rookie campaign. For his career, the 6’9” Toronto product has played 275 games, starting 36, and has averaged six points and three rebounds, showing flashes of his versatile inside/out scoring ability, and rebounding.

Net head coach Kenny Atkinson is highly intrigued by what Nicholson brings to Brooklyn, and feels he and his staff can get the most out of ‘Drew,’ who hasn’t seen many opportunities.

“We’re excited about Andrew. I think he’ll bring some rebounding, he’s a skilled big, which is important, he’s shown the ability to shoot the ball from three point range, and we also realize that he can score in the post,” Atkinson offered on his new acquisition. “He’s another guy we’re looking to develop and improve.”

‘Upside’ isn’t a word used synonymous with most 27 year-olds, but Atkinson did just that when describing Nicholson, who barely saw the floor in 28 appearances with the Wizards this season. It’s a far reach from what the Nets go .

“When you hire somebody, you look at what’s his upside,” Atkinson said. “We still think he’s got more to give. I’ve had the opportunity to coach against him this summer with Canada and I was impressed with his skill level, his length, his 7-foot wingspan. We think he can protect the rim for us – there’s some untapped talent there – I had him at the NBA combine when I was coaching there and I was impressed with his basketball I.Q. and his ability to read the game.”

Nicholson sees the Nets style of play as a perfect match for him.

"It's impressive how they shoot a lot of threes, they move the ball, and they play hard,” said the stretch 4, who shot 36% from deep last season. “That's something that I'm really excited to be apart of. I think it's a great fit. This is definitely an opportunity to be part of a rebuilding process, I've done it in college, so I’m just excited to be a part of something that's going to be big, and real excited to be amongst these guys. They're really competitive and have a lot of heart."

Nicholson also said that he plans on bringing in intensity on the defense end. At 6’9”, 250 pounds and possessing a 7’4” wingspan, he has the ability to play center in spurts, which Atkinson expounded on earlier Thursday.

“He can play the five in this league, I’ve seen him defend the five,” said the Net head coach. “Washington gave him a pretty good contract, so he obviously showed some potential in Orlando – he has shown that he has an ability to play and contribute in this league.

Atkinson, while telling the media how much he’ll miss Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough on the front end, said yesterday’s deal should open things up at the wing for guys like Caris LeVert and Joe Harris, and potentially Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who Atkinson really likes at power forward.

“This gives some other guys an opportunity to play, some of our younger guys,” Atkinson said. “(This trade) opens up some more minutes on wing, we could look at playing two point guards at the same time, which we haven’t done much of this year. It gets us to look at the lineups with guys we’re going forward with in the future.”

No word on how much Nicholson will play Friday night in Denver or Saturday night at Golden State. Losing Bogdanovic means losing scoring. It won’t be easy, but the Nets hope that the promise the Wizards saw when they agreed to give the Big Canadian all that money this summer will be fulfilled.