The Theo Pinson redemption tour has begun.
In his eighth NBA appearance this season, the Brooklyn two-way and Long Island Nets standout peppered the New York Knicks for a career-high and team-best 19 points in 25 minutes of play off the bench, while also pulling down nine rebounds.
Seven months after visibly showing his disappointment in not getting drafted — and now in the wake of Spencer Dinwiddie’s thumb injury— Pinson sprinted through the door opened by opportunity.
“It’s a great job,” offered head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Shouldn’t say unexpected, but didn’t originally have him in the rotation. Thought we were struggling and threw him in there, and then we didn’t want to take him out.”
Pinson, who shattered his previous career-high of nine points, is averaging 20.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in Long Island, while shooting 44.4% from the field and nearly 38% from three – a big question mark for him at North Carolina – making 2.9 three’s per game on average.
“Heck of a job. It’s a credit to our G League – the Long Island Nets – the job they’ve done there, Will Weaver, the head coach and all the assistants. He’s a part of our program, did a heck of a job and didn’t skip a beat. (He) knew everything we were doing tactically. Just a really smooth transition,” said Atkinson.
The 6’7” NCAA National Champion indulged in his first media scrum afterward, as he was a big part of the Nets in a 109-99 victory.
”It was huge. I was actually looking forward to it,” said Pinson. “Once we went down early, I was hoping I got the shot. I tried to make the best of it.”
Pinson hit 42% from three in Las Vegas summer league with the Nets after shooting only 25.7% from college three through four seasons at UNC. But he did work relentlessly on his weakness, and became a better, NBA-ready player.
”Confidence,” he responded when asked of his shooting. “Confidence and I know I could shoot the ball and they encourage you to shoot here. It was something I been working on all summer and every single day … I give all the glory to God, man. I can’t even explain it. It doesn’t feel like it’s hitting yet. I’m just glad we won, that was my biggest thing.”
Pinson later added that Shabazz Napier, who also will see a jump in minutes in the absence of Dinwiddie, has told him many times to stay ready: “You never know when you’re opportunity is coming.”
Pinson is also no stranger to lighting it up at Barclays Center, having played in the 2017 and 2018 ACC Tournaments, both held in the venue, where Pinson enjoyed a great deal of success.
”The announcer … (he said) he likes saying my name because he remembered it from the ACC Tournament, so, it must be something in the air around Brooklyn,” Pinson said with a smile.
”It’s one of those things where you go down there and try to give it your all to show that you belong up here, and once you get your shot, that you’re ready. I got mine tonight ... I gave it all I had.”