The Nets released their summer league roster Friday and for the most part, it’s as expected, with seven of the players international. The big news is that while Dzanan Musa is officially on the roster, he won’t play in Las Vegas. The Nets decided to rest the Bosnian guard, noting that he’s played 75 games in three European leagues and a FIBA tournament since last summer.
Caris LeVert, now in his third season, and Jarrett Allen, now in his second, headline the roster which also includes Milton Doyle and James Webb III, who were on two-way deals last year. Like the Nets themselves, it’s heavy on 3-point shooting wings and light on big men. Jacque Vaughn, Kenny Atkinson’s top assistant, will handle the coaching duties.
So, here’s the official roster, followed by bio’s of the key players (other than LeVert and Allen ... and the two-ways. You already know who they are.)
—Dzanan Musa of Bosnia, the Nets first round pick, is a 6’9” swingman who sees himself as a guard in the NBA and thinks he can play the 1, 2, or 3. Musa has played for the Bosnian national team since he was 16 and was also the star of their U14 and U16 teams, winning the MVP of the 2015 FIBA Europe championship, which brought 50,000 fans to the streets of Sarajevo. He told his Bosnian coashes this week that he will not be available for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers which begin Thursday. As noted, he’ll be there, healthy, but more as an observer and cheerleader. He’s 19.
—Rodions Kurucs of Latvia, the Nets second round pick, is also a 6’9” swingman who says he can play the 2, 3 or 4, although his likely NBA roles is at the stretch-4. Kurucs has yet to play for the Latvian senior men’s national team, spending his international time on the junior teams, most recently the U20 squad. He, too, informed his coaches this week that he will be focused on his Nets commitments and will not play in the U20 European championships next month. He’s 20.
—Tyler Davis, a 6’10” junior forward from Texas A&M and Puerto Rico. Davis was seen as a potential second round pick, but suffered a concussion this season which hurt his draft stock. A high character guy with a strong workout ethic, he turned his body from round to ripped, as one Houston sports blog put it. A hard worker in the post, he averaged 14.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, hitting better than 60 percent of his shots in his three year career. Also not a shooter, taking only 26 shots from deep, and only one since his freshman year. A member of the Puerto Rican national team. He’s 21.
—Yuta Watanabe, a 6’9 senior shooting guard from George Washington and Japan. Watanabe is a shooter. He made 36.4 percent of his three’s on his way to a 16.4 point average his senior year. He also grabbed 6.1 rebounds and is seen as an underrated defender, voted the Atlantic 10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. Watanabe is attempting to become just the second Japanese-born player in NBA history after 5’9” point guard Yuta Tabuse who played four games for the Phoenix Suns in 2004. Watanabe provided NBA Japan with an inside look at the Nets workout routine. A member of the Japanese national team. He’s 23.
—Shawn Dawson, a 6’6” swingman from Israel. The 24-year-old is the son of an American basketball player. He has played in Israel his entire career, not attending a U.S. college. He’s had tryouts with the Pelicans and Wizards. He is an efficient scorer even if his 3-point shot is not that deadly. He can play multiple positions. He’s 24 and a member of the Israeli national team. He got a release from his FIBA World Cup qualifying team commitments this week as well. According to reports out of Israel, he was given an injury waiver even though he’ll be playing in Vegas.
—Ding Yanyuhang, a 6’7” swingman from China, where he’s one of the CBA’s top domestic players and a friend of Jeremy Lin. He was invited to join the summer league team, according to reports, after he came to Brooklyn for medical attention and decided to work out with Lin at HSS Training Center. He was expected to sign with the Dallas Mavericks (who are going to China in October for a preseason tour. Ding, 24, has been the Domestic MVP in the China Basketball Association the past two seasons, averaging 26.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this year for Shandong.
—Juan Pablo Vaulet, a 6’7” swingman from Argentina. Drafted by the Nets in 2015, Vaulet has suffered injury after injury, requiring two ankle surgeries in the three years since he was picked. He was originally proposed as a summer player player back in 2015, but suffered a stretch fracture of his ankle at the FIBA U19 tournament in Greece. He left the Argentine team last week with ankle soreness. In an interview with NBA Mexico published Thursday, Vaulet confirmed he will be available. Vaulet is 22.
—Theo Pinson, a 6’6” combo guard from the University of North Carolina who’s likely to play the point in the NBA. He reportedly has an “Exhibit 10” deal which guarantees him $50,000 and preserves his G-League rights. Pinson, who has a near 7-foot wingspan, is a defensive specialist and a player who Roy Williams used to guard everyone from point guards to bigs. In fact, Pinson went up against Marvin Begley III in the all-important Duke-UNC contests. He’s not a shooter, taking only 179 three’s in his four year career ... and making 26.9 percent of them. Pinson did average 10 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists, showing his versatility. A member of North Carolina’s 2017 NCAA championship team. Pinson was ranked the nation’s 10th best high school player in 2014, three spots ahead of D’Angelo Russell and four ahead of Isaiah Whitehead. He’s 22.
—Jordan McLaughlin, a 6’2” senior point guard from USC. McLaughlin is a top floor general and a good outside shooter as well. He may have a camp invite as well as one to the summer league. Over the course of his four-year career with the Trojans, McLaughlin shot 38 percent from three and averaged 5.8 assists, including 7.8 this past season, third nationally. An all-around, if undersized, player, McLaughlin finished his USC career second in assists, third in steals, fourth in points and fifth in three-pointers made. He’s 22.
—Kamari Murphy, a 6’9” center/forward who played last season for Long Island. A tough kid from Coney Island and Lincoln High School (where he played with Isaiah Whitehead), Murphy played 50 games for the Nets affiliate last season. A defensive specialist, he’s improved his offense, averaging 10.3 points to go with his 7.4 rebound rate. Solidly built, he’s not afraid to bang. He’s 24.
—Trevor Thompson, a 7’0” center/forward who played for the Warriors G-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, California. Thompson is a Long Island City native who was at Ohio State (as a red shirt) during D’Angelo Russell’s one year with the Buckeyes. He’s had tryouts with the Warriors and Celtics in the past. Thompson averaged a mere 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds for Santa Cruz in limited (11.7) minutes. He has shown some ability to shoot the three. He shot it well in high school, but Ohio State’s Thad Matta discouraged him at the college level. He’s 24.
Semaj Christon, a 6’3” shooting guard who played for Guangzhou Long Lions in China last season, averaging 27.8 points and 5.8 assists. He’s not much of a 3-point shooter however, hitting less than 30 percent from deep. He played 64 games for the Thunder two years ago and he put up 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds. He also spent time with the Oklahoma City Blue, averaging 18 points in the G-League. He has had a scorer’s mentality since his days at Xavier. He’s 25.
Bryant Crawford, a 6’3” shooting guard from Wake Forest who went undrafted earlier this month. Crawford played three years at Wake, is just turned 21. A solid passer and three point shooter, he didn’t miss a game in his last two seasons at Wake and only one in his three years with the Deacons. He averaged 17 and 5 last season.
Who’s got the best shot other than LeVert, Allen and the two rookies. Pinson is guaranteed some time in Long Island and it’s hard to dismiss Ding, who lit up the Summer League last year and is, after all, the two-time Domestic MVP in the Chinese Basketball Association. And there’s Doyle, who’s reportedly had a good summer in the gym.
We shall see ... since the games will be on NBA TV or ESPN, starting July 6.
- Nets’ NBA Summer League roster has international flavor - Greg Logan - Newsday
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