Kenny Atkinson obviously doesn’t have the time to watch every single Long Island Nets game, but he does keep track on some of his future mainstays as they flourish at the G League level.
Namely, the Brooklyn coach says he watches draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, along with two-way player Theo Pinson, who was signed over the summer. Alan Williams, also a two-way, is entrenched with Long Island as well, and currently leads the team in points ... and the G League in rebounds.
“I pay attention to them,” Atkinson said Tuesday after (Brooklyn) Nets practice. “I can’t tell you I watch every game. They practiced here yesterday. I watched a little bit of practice. We get reports. I always look at the box scores, information. Definitely getting great feedback from those guys; Theo is in that mix, obviously Rodi and Musa … our antennas are even more up with those guys. I keep an eye on them.”
Kurucs, of course, got some minutes with the big club, but as some of the team’s injured bigs —Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll— returned from injury, the 20-year-old was getting fewer and fewer opportunities. And since Kurucs played so little last season at F.C. Barcelona, the Nets wanted him to get more minutes on the court in Long Island.
Since he was assigned to Uniondale last week, Kurucs has played two games, 14 minutes in the first, 32 in the second, putting up 13 and 16 points while shooting 3-of-6 from deep.
Asked if Kurucs could eventually crack the Brooklyn rotation, Atkinson acknowledged that it’s “possible.”
”I think I said it yesterday, it’s a little difficult for him because he needs minutes,” Atkinson said. “We feel like, especially in our situation right now, him getting minutes with Long Island kind of supersedes because of where we are and DeMarre (Carroll) being back. That being said, circumstances can certainly change, whether we have a guy go down or a guy not playing well. Because the returns were, when he’s been with us and played minutes, he’s played pretty good.
“I don’t know if that’s a satisfactory answer,” he admitted. “He didn’t play a ton in Barcelona last year, that was one of the things. So we’re like, man, we’ve got to make sure this guy gets minutes. So it’s balancing what we need with the Brooklyn Nets with his development. So we’re just trying to get the right balance there. There’s no easy answer for that.”
Musa, who has been on assignment from Brooklyn to Long Island since the G League season began in early November, has started all seven of his G League contests. Pinson has played in all seven as well. Williams has started and played in five, while the more recently assigned Kurucs has started and played in three.
Musa and Pinson are both averaging just north of 18 points per game heading into tonight’s YES televised 7 p.m. tip against the Greensboro Swarm. Musa is also averaging 6.7 rebounds per contest while shooting 42% from the field and 33% from three.
Pinson has been an efficiency monster, with a shooting line of 46-37-90, while dishing out 5.6 assists and grabbing 5.4 boards per game. Most notably, he’s making 2.4 out of 6.6 three’s per contest, an area of his game which had been questioned throughout his North Carolina days. He shot only 22.7 percent from deep in his senior year at Chapel Hill, which ultimately may have prevented him from getting picked in the draft.
In 25.1 minutes per contest, Williams leads Long Island with 21.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. Williams had three years experience with the Suns before signing with the Nets.
“I always wish I could do more with that and break down their minutes,” Atkinson says when asked about monitoring their collective progress. “But we have assistant coaches assigned to them and obviously the Long Island coaches are on that. I’m really happy where we are, the information we get on their play.”
“I think they’re going to be productive NBA players,” he added. “So you’re anxious to see their growth. But excited about all of them.”