Before Sunday’s game with the 76ers, Jacque Vaughn talked about his hopes for the 23-year-old signed to a two-way deal the day before.
“I think he had a great year this year in the G League,” Vaughn said, talking about Gray’s time with the Long Island Nets. “You see him handle the basketball a little bit, able to rebound, high IQ guy who will be able to pass the basketball at his size, can handle that thing, really tried to push him to shoot threes, you know, this past summer,”
In 18 games with Long Island, Gray averaged 15.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with shooting splits of 58/38/63. The formidably built 6’8” Gray showed he could play a number of positions and in today’s NBA, that is helpful.
And he did nothing to hurt himself. Allowing for strange end of season games, the Florida State product had a good day at Barclays Center even though the Nets lost to the 76ers. He finished his 35-minute performance with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-5 from deep plus 2-of-2 from the line. He also grabbed nine boards, dished seven assists and blocked a shot. Not bad for the 59th pick in the 2021 Draft a draft the Nets had five picks and wound up signing four of them to some sort of deal.
More importantly, he looked good doing it...
Gray was happy with his performance post-game...
“I felt comfortable. I think I belong here. You know, these group of guys, I’ve been here in the summertime,” Gray said. “So, I’m familiar with some of the faces, but it was good to get out there and experience that, you know? I think it’s like a dream come true. But, I felt comfortable, confident. So, trying to go out and play my game.”
Vaughn liked what he saw as well.
“He was heading towards a triple-double at halftime. So, impressive in the fact that we’d talked to him about being thankful for the opportunity. You don’t know when it’s going to present itself. He was ready, he showed up,” Vaughn said, post-game. “We talked about it as a group that this is a guy that fits in, he’s been around our guys, has a relationship with guys, and is easy to cheer for. Glad he played well.”
Showed up indeed. Gray got word of his call-up while in Fort Lauderdale where he headed after the Long Island Nets got beat by the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League’s Eastern Conference Finals last Monday. He had to scramble to get to Brooklyn for his NBA debut.
So what’s next? The Nets have until June 29 to tender him a qualifying offer which seems likely. After that, he could be back in a Nets uniform for the Summer League which starts shortly after the Draft. Who knows what the Nets roster will look like by that with week with three draft choices and a GM with a history of making big Draft Day deals.
But Gray did not hurt his chances. As Vaughn said, he wanted to see what Gray could do and after 35 minutes, it appears he passed his first NBA test.
“You always want to compete against the best and the NBA is the best league in the world. So now that I’m here and I’ve got a taste, I definitely want to sharpen my game up,” Gray said. “I know what I need to work on in order to stay here and be successful at this level, so … I’m grateful for opportunity and experience and I’m going to take it and run with it.”
- RaiQuan Gray impressively ‘showed up’ in 16-point NBA debut - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ RaiQuan Gray feels he belongs after ‘dream come true’ NBA debut - John Flanigan - Yahoo! Sports