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The Isaiah Whitehead Experiment seems to be working

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The Nets have seen their G League affiliate as many things, but primarily, they see it as a way to develop players already on their roster, give them time, a.k.a. minutes, to develop at their own pace. The constant communications between NBA and G League clubs offers feedback opportunities on the player’s progress.

They tried it a bit last season, Long Island’s first, with Chris McCullough. But McCullough never took to the experiment and off he went in the trade that sent him and Bojan Bogdanovic to the Wizards for Washington’s 22nd pick, which of course turned into Jarrett Allen. The Wizards declined to exercise their option on CMC last October, so he’ll be a free agent.

Whitehead on the other hand, embraced the opportunity and the Nets now see, as Laura Albanese of Newsday reports, progress. Not only did they give Whitehead more minutes, but they also used Whitehead’s time in Long Island to help him expand his game, going from traditional point guard to a more off-ball game, both at the 2 and the 3.

“It’s boosted his stock, quite honestly,” Kenny Atkinson told Albanese. “I do like that we saw him much more off the ball,” Atkinson said. “We’re thinking that’s probably going to translate better. He can still have the ball in his hands and we’re multi-positional and all that, but he’s definitely really good about being off the ball, scoring the ball off the ball and defending off the ball.”

At the end of the G League season, Whitehead at 6’4” and with an NBA body, was arguably the best player in the league. Over the last six games of Long Island’s playoff run, he averaged 32 points a game. He had the G League season-high game of 52 points in February and another game of 41 last week.

“Isaiah played phenomenal,” Atkinson said. “That last month, the feedback, and it’s not easy getting 40 in the G League, 39. That’s real positive. I’m really proud of Isaiah and just thrilled that those guys will be with us.”

After being yo-yo’d between Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum early in the season, the Nets kept him in Long Island at season’s end. He finished as Long Island’s high scorer at 22.3 points per game, and shot 36 percent from three-point range.

The Nets aren’t saying yet if they’ll pick up their inexpensive $1.5 million option for his third year, but judging by what Atkinson told Albanese, it seems they’re more than leaning in that direction.

“He’s going into the season on a real positive upswing,” said Atkinson of 2018-19.