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Acy loves New York ... and Brooklyn in particular

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

“I love New York” seems to be Quincy Acy’s motto. He just loves Brooklyn more.

Two years ago, Acy played for the Knicks ... 59 games, 22 starts. He didn’t survive Phil Jackson’s purge and after stints in the D-League and a brief tryout in Dallas, he wound up in Brooklyn, where he is doing well and where he wants to stay.

He’s only been in Brooklyn for a few months, but the 26-year old has quickly made his impact felt on the Nets organization. The Nets like him, he likes the Nets.

“It has a family atmosphere; I’m really looking to make this a home for me,” said Acy who has a team option after this year. “I know what’s expected of me here, to provide energy, provide a spark, and to come out with a defensive intensity that the other team can’t match – just grind it out.”

It all matters, he says. The 6-foot-7 forward knows the NBA ... he’s on his fifth team in as many years, having had stints in Toronto, Sacramento, New York, and most recently, Dallas. Now as a Net, he’s playing his best basketball, but it helps when you feel like you’re at home.

Acy admits he didn’t want to leave Dallas and his teammates didn’t want him gone, either. But with three point guards down early in the season, the Mavericks had to open up space for an emergency hire. Acy got cut but after a short stint with the Texas Legends, he was back, this time in black-and-white.

Before his exit, Acy had a turning point, courtesy of Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle. It sent Acy a message he’ll never forget, which Acy recalls.

“He looked me in my eye and told me that if I’m going to stick in this league, I’ve got to put the ball in the hole,” he said. “I took that to heart. I got cut like the next week but it stuck with me. He told me what I needed to do, and coach (Kenny) Atkinson has really believed in me now.”

Cue Atkinson.

One key element to Acy’s evolving game is three-point shooting. General Atkinson firmly believes in the three-point shot, as we’ve witnessed throughout the course of the season.

Acy, who took a total of seven threes in college, is a 50% three-point shooter since arriving in Brooklyn via 10-day contract number one in early January. With the Knicks, he shot 30 percent. Big difference. Less encouragement in Manhattan?

And it’s not a b.s. 50%, the former Baylor Bear has drilled in 32-of-64 over his first 24 games, a heavy sample size. So why is this happening? Hard work, and encouragement, first from Carlisle but mainly from Atkinson. It was something new, something unique, something only good coaches understand.

“I’ve really been working on it since I entered the league but it’s one thing when your coach encourages you to take the shot,” Acy says of Atkinson’s ‘I got your back’ mentality.

“That provides confidence – in the past it was me trying to prove that I could make the shot, and if I hit it then that’s good, if I didn’t, that’s a bad shot. When we played Boston I was like 0-for-4 or 0-for-5, and coach came up to me and said ‘hey, shoot the ball, you’re open.’ When you get the confidence from your head coach, that’s unmatched.”

Beyond the lines, Acy highlighted Atkinson’s positive, optimistic attitude with helping him along the way, as Acy enjoys a career best 7.5 points per game as a Net, while playing under 16 minutes per contest. Despite all those minutes in New York, he averaged only 5.9 points.

“His high energy, he’s full of life, he’s always talking about bringing the juice,” Acy glowed as he spoke of Atkinson. “That’s my personality as well, so I feel like we just go together. He’s always pumped up and he’s always excited about the game and about life, and he’s always around the fellas. That’s relatable to the players and the coach, I love that about him, I think everybody on the team does too.”

The 2012 second round pick signed a multi-year deal with the Nets in January, acing (pun intended) his initial 10-day test. He said, frankly, that he’s tired of moving around, and would love to remain as part of the Net core group moving forward.

“As a player in this league, you don’t want to bounce around,” he said. “I’ve got a family off the court, I’ve got a kid, I’ve got a fiancé, you want some stability. I think everybody in our family is on edge waiting to see what’s going to happen with us. As a player you want to establish a home and you want to stick somewhere.”

He was one of the players who brought a family member along on the 16-day road trip. In case, it was his four-year-old son.

“This is my first time that a team let him on the plane, so that’s really big,” Acy told Cory Wright of the Nets. “That says a lot about the family environment and the culture that they’re building here. I love it.”

We’ve written it before: the common theme shared throughout the team is that Brooklyn feels like a home, and overall, players are watching what could be called an experiment. Everyone understands that progress is being made, if slowly.

But it’s rare anymore than any of the new players don’t say this is where they want to stay.