First the medical report. Kyrie Irving broke his face in four places last week: three fractured bones beneath his left eye and another toward the left side of his nose. Masked Kyrie is back at practice, but he’s not expected to play in Friday night’s preseason opener vs. Basquete Franca of Brazil.
That said, Irving practiced for the first time on Tuesday and, everyone said, practice changed.
“I think there was another level of energy and competitiveness,” Atkinson told writers after practice. “It’s great. I think great players push all of us to be better.”
“I think the energy level has always been great,” DeAndre Jordan added, according to Kristian Winfield. “Obviously when you add Kyrie back it’s awesome, but I think our intensity has been great because Kevin and him have been here kind of coaching from the sidelines and giving their two cents. It definitely was good to have him back today, getting him to jell with everybody else.”
As for the 27-year-old All-NBA point guard, he enjoyed himself.
“Just to be out here competing with the guys, getting through our scripted plays, just really enjoying the camaraderie and the competition and having everybody out here raise their level of play and just be dialed in,” Irving added. “That’s a great thing for us.”
And it wasn’t just about his ability to score.
“Anything that I can utilize for our offense to be more fluent, I’m willing to do,” he said. “I’m going to give guys space to be special. Caris is one of those guys, Spencer is one of those guys, Joe also can come off the screen to shoot.”
It was evident in the videos the Nets and NBA.com tweeted out...
KYRIE ➡️ JARRETT#NetsAllAccess#WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/osZTh3hcd0— NBA (@NBA) October 1, 2019
.@KyrieIrving stops & drops in the pull-up at @BrooklynNets practice! #PhantomCam#NetsAllAccess pic.twitter.com/I8x6s3IEuF— NBA (@NBA) October 1, 2019
#11 for the @BrooklynNets, @KyrieIrving! #NetsAllAccess#WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/bvpOv5mIZz— NBA (@NBA) October 1, 2019
Post-practice..., Kyrie was talking up possibilities and the relief he felt getting back on court.
“I’m just really grateful to be here, that’s as easy as I can put it.” -@KyrieIrving pic.twitter.com/JUmNDf8dib— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 1, 2019
@KyrieIrving post-practice sound:— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 1, 2019
“Just to be out here competing with the guys...really enjoying the camaraderie and the competition, having everybody out here raise their level of play...that’s a great thing.” pic.twitter.com/uJupjmSS3f
It wasn’t just Irving. Kenny Atkinson pointed to Jarrett Allen, at once a third-year NBA veteran and third youngest player on the team, as having a good day.
“It was Jarrett Allen,” he said when asked about standouts in practice. “If I can only pick one, let him be the standout.”
Allen and Jordan, of course, are in competition for the 5 spot, an odd circumstance for Jordan who’s started every games he’s played in since 2011.
“I think it’s going great. Jarrett is a great young player. He’s proven to be a great rim protector and he’s getting even better each year,” Jordan said. “And we’re definitely challenging him every day in practice. I think for us being able to battle against each other every day is going to be good not only for us individually but great for our team.”
The veteran also had praise for another young big, Nicolas Claxton, who he compared favorably with fellow left-handed seven-footer, Chris Bosh.
“I love Nic. Nic kind of reminds me about Chris Bosh a little bit,” Jordan said. “He’s left-handed, he’s skilled. He can go inside and out. I think the sky’s the limit for him. Once he learns the game and becomes more of a student of the game, gets his body into the game I think he’s gonna be great.”
Atkinson spoke as well as last year’s two draft picks, Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, both of whom will have minutes issues this season.
“You’ve got to be a 3-and-D guy at that 4, 3, 2 position,” Atkinson said of Musa and the logjam at the wing positions. “That’s what we’re helping him out with. So definitely Musa, I’m really pleased with his progress.”
“I like that he’s not hesitating to shoot,” Atkinson said of Kurucs. “We need him to shoot the ball when he’s open, without forgetting what he’s really good at: Energy, elite cutter, runs the court really well. But really encouraging him to take that open shot. So that’s been a really good sign. He’s willing, not hesitating, letting it fly.”
He also dismissed out of hand Kurucs comments on Media Day that the Nets would like him to be more like Draymond Green, a big playmaker.
“Tell him the coach wants him to be less ballhandler. This is where this is great to talk to you guys; me and him have to get on the same page,” said the coach.
- Kyrie Irving’s injury return brought a new energy to Nets training camp - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Jarrett Allen is standout of day 3 of Nets training camp - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kyrie Irving’s return comes with mask he absolutely hates - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Jarrett Allen already benefiting from DeAndre Jordan’s experience - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Masked man Irving excited to practice with Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Kurucs, Musa will have to fight for minutes - Greg Logan - Newsday
- BROOKLYN NETS TRAINING CAMP: KYRIE IRVING TAKES THE COURT - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- What Will The Brooklyn Nets Look Like Before Kevin Durant Is Back? - Chris Herring - 538.com