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Young Nets praise DeMarre Carroll for his leadership... and more

“We always got his back...”

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — DeMarre Carroll had another big night in Brooklyn, playing perhaps the best ball of his career. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds - his 12th double-double of the season in a win over Dallas.

What has stood out the most — more than his career-high’s for points, rebounds, and assists per game — has been his leadership through the tough season. At 22-48, it isn’t easy keeping the ship sailing smoothly, especially with a young group like the Nets. At 31, he’s the second-oldest player on the team. Only Timofey Mozgov is older, by two weeks.

Carroll continues to preach his philosophy of staying positive. The guys listen. He continues to play hard despite all the losing. The guys follow.

“I like how DeMarre always played. His work ethic is good, he’s a leader. Sometimes with his accent we don’t know what he’s saying, but his intent is in the right place,” said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, looking two lockers over and laughing towards Carroll.

Hollis-Jefferson and Carroll have been Brooklyn’s most consistent players. The Nets hoped the two would gel and that Carroll would be a leader for RHJ. And he has been.

The same goes for D’Angelo Russell, who seeked DeMarre’s help earlier in the season when he was rehabbing his knee. DeMarre helped him stay positive, and DLo remains appreciative for the veteran leadership he brings to the team.

“That leadership role, that voice, that experience. He brings a lot to the team. We appreciate it, you know, we can just be a young team with no veteran guys. [We’re] fortunate enough to have a guy like him. [He’s] been through it, been around Kenny [Atkinson] for a long time, knows what Kenny wants, and kind of dumbs down the message whenever he gets the message from Kenny,” said Russell.

It goes back to what we’ve pointed out several times: Carroll is like a player-coach for this team. His importance to the team goes way beyond the box score.

“He has that experience, credibility, so when I ask him something he’s been there, done that,” said Russell.

Carroll is averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game on 42 percent shooting and 37 percent from three. He was labeled a “salary dump” entering the season after two injury-ridden seasons in Toronto. Owed $30 million, the Nets were more than willing to take on his salary in return for two draft picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Raptors’ own first rounder and the least favorable of the Magic and Lakers seconds. As of Sunday, that’s the 29th and 42nd (Lakers) picks.

While he might be the veteran leader in the room, he has just as big a chip on his shoulder as the young guys on the team. And they respect it.

“We’re just happy to have him and we’ll always support him,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “We always got his back.”