The Nets brought Isaiah Whitehead up from Long Island over the weekend as their point guards went down. After a nice stint in the G League —17.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds— Whitehead filled in nicely vs. the Timberwolves and Knicks.
He played 20 minutes in the two games, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep. He had only two turnovers and two assists. Moreover, he looked comfortable in his back-up role. The Nets see him as a development success, a player who willingly took advantage of the minutes he was getting in the G League.
Always a favorite with the Nets coaching staff, Whitehead went from starting 26 NBA games last year to playing mostly for a G League team ... and without complaint. As he told Hoopshype this week, he’s happy he’s playing, Brooklyn ... or Long Island.
“I think I’ve grown a lot and I’ve gotten a lot of experience. Last year, playing in 73 games definitely helped a lot,” he said. “This year, it’s just about getting better no matter where I am, whether it’s in Brooklyn or Long Island. I think it’s been good either way, just getting more experience and getting the chance to play.”
Whitehead added that the minutes he got in Long Island has helped him develop a number of NBA skills, particularly his ability to drive the lanes.
“I think I can get to the rim whenever I want,” he told Alex Kenndy. “I feel like I’ve worked on that a lot and it’s paid off. I’m continuously working on my three-point shooting, limiting my turnovers and just getting more comfortable with the game. I think that playing a lot this year will help me as I work on those things.”
Whitehead credited his G League teammates for welcoming and accepting him when he arrived, then became a big part of the Long Island rotation. He also said the transition back and forth has been helped by how long he’s known many of his Brooklyn teammates.
“It’s great. I’ve known Jahlil [Okafor] since junior high school. Same with D’Angelo [Russell] and Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson], I’ve known them since junior high school. I’ve known and been playing against some of these guys for a long time. I met Caris [LeVert] last year and we get along; it feels like we’ve known each other since junior high school too!”
Whitehead admits he’s still adjusting to playing in his hometown, admitting he never thought there would be a team in Brooklyn, so he was a Knick fan growing up in Coney Island.
“It was a dream come true when I was drafted by Brooklyn. It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to staying here,” he added.
The Nets have a team option on Whitehead for next season. By June 29, they have to let him know if they plan on exercising it. At $1.54 million, it’s not that big a deal, but even Whitehead admits the backcourt is deep. That of course could change at the deadline, but until then, the Seton Hall product is all about Brooook-lyn.