Nothing hurt the Nets chances last year like the loss of Jeremy Lin (hamstring) and Greivis Vasquez (ankle). After one went down and the other was waived, Brooklyn was left with Isaiah Whitehead, a 21-year-old second rounder, and Randy Foye, more a shooting guard who was at the end of his career.
Just how much the Nets missed Lin was proven when he returned at season’s end. The Nets went 11-12 after March 1 and beat the Knicks twice in a five-day period, salvaging something from an utterly devastating season.
Now, as the team regroups, starting with summer league, they’ve gone in the opposite direction. They’ve got point guards —and combo guards who can play the point— galore. Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell are the starters and Kenny Atkinson should have plenty to choose from after that. He’ll get his first good look in Las Vegas starting Friday night.
As Brian Lewis, who’s in Las Vegas for summer league, writes, “Five of the 15 players on the summer league roster were with the Nets last season, and all but one of that quintet should see some time running the point.” The one who doesn’t play point, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, will be asked to be a playmaker upfront.
The Nets will have last year’s two back-up point guards, Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie, as well as 6’7” Caris LeVert, who can play the 1, 2 or 3, and 6’5” Archie Goodwin, a natural shooting guard who’s added some point guard skills while working out this summer. Milton Doyle, an undrafted 6’4” point guard at Loyola Chicago last season, is likely to get some minutes as well.
Beyond PG, expect the Nets to give big minutes to a couple of bigs who weren’t on the roster last season: Prince Ibeh, the 6’11” shot blocker who played in Long Island, and Jake Wiley, a 6’7” hyperathletic power forward out of Eastern Washington with the build of a tight end, the position he played in high school and at Montana. Wiley and Jeremy Senglin, the NCAA’s top three-point shooter last season at Weber State, are the only non-roster players with partially guaranteed deals.
Neither of the team’s two youngest players, 19-year-old draft pick Jarrett Allen, out with a hip flexor, nor Russell, who’s working out in Brooklyn, will play.
The Nets should do well in Vegas. Teams with experienced players usually do and the Nets five veterans have a total of 11 years in the league, led by Goodwin’s four, Dinwiddie’s three and RHJ’s two. First game vs. the Hawks is Friday at 8 p.m. on NBA TV. Our viewing guide can be found here.