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Amar’e Stoudemire has big job working with Nets bigs

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BIG3 - Week Seven - Chicago Photo by Dylan Buell/BIG3 via Getty Images

The Nets now have four big men between the ages of 20 and 22. In ascending order of age: Reggie Perry, Nicolas Claxton, Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs. How young are they? One of the top bigs in this year’s NBA Draft, Obi Toppin, is older than all of them save Kurucs and he’s only a month older than Toppin.

None of them are complete players. Allen is closest and easily has the most experienced with 5,394 minutes in 222 games. So developing them is a top priority for the Nets.

Enter Amar’e Stoudmire, the Nets new big man coach who as recently as July was still playing in Israel, winning the MVP in the Israeli League. Here’s highlights from the game. Yes, he still can play at age 38...

As Brian Lewis writes Wednesday, Allen thinks that recent experience —and a career’s worth of knowledge— is going to be a big help.

“Amar’e has been great so far,” Allen told Lewis. “He’s been giving me tips when we’ve been working out, he’s been giving me little pointers on how to elevate my game. Showing me some post moves, just telling me about his mentality on rebounding, basically those things so far.”

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nets employed a lot of pick-and-roll, using the template Steve Nash and Stoudemire developed in Phoenix a decade and a half ago. As Lewis writes, “If Allen (and DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant) can develop even a reasonable facsimile of the chemistry that Stoudemire and Nash had while terrorizing the Western Conference, it would bode well for the Nets.” Stoudemire was a five-time All-NBA player in Phoenix and New York.

Although Allen has been in rumors, Nash last month spoke highly of his development in Orlando and he was one of only four players Sean Marks mentioned last week when he talked about his roster. With only Kurucs and G Leaguer Donta Hall to back him up in the “bubble,” Allen averaged 15.7 points, 11 points and four assists in the seeding games and 10.3 points, 14.8 boards and 2.3 assists in the first round vs. Toronto. That 14.8 figure was the highest for the playoffs.

Kurucs, who had a solid rookie year in 2018-19, had an up-and-down year last year and Claxton, while showing some flashes, is still a work-in-progress. Perry, of course, will be a rookie.

Beyond Allen’s comments on what he’s learning from the Nets big man coach, there’s what one of his teammates at Maccabi Tel Aviv — and one of the top NBA Draft picks —told reporters about his ability to connect with younger players.

“Amar’e as a teammate was great, great man. Has a lot of patience with young guys. Really wants the young guys to improve,” Dani Avdija, taken No. 9 by the Wizards, said in a predraft Zoom interview with the media. “I had a great relationship with him. He’s a great friend of mine. I learned a lot from him this season.”