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NETS TRAINING CAMP DAY 2: Kenny Atkinson talks ‘spoiled’ Joe Harris, Caris LeVert at PG

As part of training camp, we will pass along Kenny Atkinson’s media message. Today includes rotation planning, Caris LeVert at point guard, Jeff Hornacek, Kenneth Faried shooting three’s and more … 

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Spoiled Joe Harris:

”He didn’t take the subway home. He usually takes the subway home. I said, ‘Joe, you taking the subway?’ because it was raining. He said, ‘no, I’m taking an Uber.’ And then I said, ‘I see the money’s really spoiled you.’”

How much time would you devote in practice and camp to working on players’ weaknesses?

”We emphasize their strengths and what they’re good at, but I think that was the off-season focus on what these guys can improve on while still not forgetting about their strengths. We give them a player development packet in their exit meetings. It’s pretty in-depth. And we know collectively as a staff what they need to work on. That’s not only from a basketball standpoint, but performance room too. It’s a pretty comprehensive thing. I think guys know where they have to get better.”

With the quality veteran depth, do you think you have to play 10, 11 players?

”That’s part of our philosophy too. It’s a great way to develop the roster and I think it’s a great way to win. You can win playing that way. Expect us to play a lot of players and don’t expect guys to play 38, 40 minutes every game. We’ll manage those minutes as we have. But I do think, we are a little deeper with the vets that we’ve added.”

Are you mixing lineups in practice so far? Do you expect more flexibility with the new bigs?

”I think it will give us more flexibility. We still have to discover ourselves. I still have to get a better feel for the guys we brought in. Learning that day by day. I definitely think that gives us more flexibility with the lineups.”

When would you hope to have an identity established by?

”That’s what’s great about preseason. We’ll discover it in preseason. We’ll discover in the preseason games and build our identity as it goes. They kind of know what I want. We’ve got to forge that identity and do it in games. I think it’s pretty clear what we’ve basically been touching on, defense for the most part. Giving them clear parameters on what we’re doing there. Offense will come a little later.”

It’s early but do you have a feel for some of the new guys’ tendencies?

”There’s been no surprises. Ed’s a heck of a rebounder on both ends of the floor. Shabazz is dynamic and a spark plug and can score in bunches and make shots. Kenneth is energy and runs the court and chases down loose balls and a pretty good pick and roll player and good competitor. Am I missing anybody? No surprises yet.”

We saw Kenneth Faried shooting three’s. Will that become a thing?

”He’s got to prove it to me. But I think out of those guys, he has a chance there. I think we’ll give him that chance. He’s shown a little light. Like I said yesterday, I think he can drive it from space too. Again, I don’t want to take away his strength. His strength is working behind that basket. His strength is going to the boards. We’ll temper that, but he’s wide open with his feet set and he’s been working on it and proved to us he can do it, I think it’s a big game today. An added weapon. Something different to what he’s done in the past.”

How important is forcing turnovers on the defensive end going to be this season?

“Yes, and you’re hitting on an important statistical area where we have to improve. I definitely want to up our activity, but again without compromising our kind of conservative defensive schemes. I just don’t want to get too extended and too spread out. I definitely want to keep it compact and I want to take away the 3-point line, no doubt about it. Last year we were 11th in effective field goal percentage defense, which means teams did not shoot well against us. For us to be a good defense we’ve also got to balance it a little on turnovers and be a little more active on turnovers without extending our defense too much.”

More on wider rotation:

“Listen, I think everyone has different philosophies. We’ll see how this group plays out and what the size of that group looks like, but we do like playing a lot of people (inaudible) the big minutes. If there does come a time during the season when we have to produce that lineup because we think it’s better, we’ll do that. I’m not married to that.”

Caris was at point guard last year (at times) but now he goes back to the three, but handles the ball well, so how you see it working out?

“I think the way we play he’ll have plenty of opportunity to handle the ball. It’s funny how it happens in the NBA that his teammates know it too. It’s not always a specific play call, but the bigs know if they want to throw it to him and run into a pick-and-roll, other perimeter players know, they understand his strengths, I understand his strengths.”

Even at small forward, he’ll handle the ball?

“Yeah, I don’t know about the same usage rate, but he’d be up there. I believe in multiple ball handlers. I think it’s tough to guard. First two days of training camp he’s been fantastic quite honestly. I’m going to call it like it is.”

Chance to start: “Uh, we’ll see, too early to make a call on that yet. I think he’s made a jump physically and I think he’s starting to understand the pace of the game and the change of pace needed to play. Him and Rondae are our most active defenders. You talk about guys that turn guys over, well turning teams over is a lot based on personnel and those guys are two active guys.”

Update on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Dzanan Musa:

“Rondae, limited participation. Musa didn’t practice, just did performance stuff.”

And on Jeff Hornacek:

“Yeah, a good friend of mine. You’ll see different guys come through here watching us practice.”