While the Brooklyn Nets were enjoying their time eating croissants and admiring the views of the Eiffel Tower. maybe even inspecting art at the Louvre, their G League affiliate was at Nassau Coliseum (no Mona Lisa there!) sweeping the Maine Celtics in what’s been a successful season so far both in terms of record and development.
Both wins against the Celtics were not pretty, but there were a bunch of good things that happened this week, particularly in the case of 19-year-old Noah Clowney, the Nets 6’10” power forward prospect.
On Monday night, the fanbase really got to see the complete offensive repertoire of Noah Clowney. Scoring 27 points while grabbing 14 rebounds, Clowney was able to so much more than getting putback dunks and jump hooks. The 19-year-old, fourth youngest player on an NBA contract this season, has been able to knock down some jump shots — shooting 38.9% from three over the last five games; show his touch with some floaters; and display some improved footwork, all while constantly disrupting the offensive flow of the Celtics with his length and athleticism.
“The kid is constantly growing and growing you can really see him blossom in every game we play.” Coach Udofia told NetsDaily. “He’s very invested in his development for his career.”
Then, in the second win, Clowney had an off shooting night, but scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and calmly sank the winning free throws with nine seconds left, capping a 24-point comeback. He also finished with seven rebounds, six assists and a block
You could even argue Clowney’s improvement in recent games could ultimately become a late return on the NBA’s $100,000 fine for load management in the Bucks game on November 27. Clowney. who scored 14 in that game, said afterwards that it gave him a confidence boost. “I can compete at this level,” he said.
Jalen Wilson has also made a name for himself in both Brooklyn and Long Island, as he has been able to crack the rotation on the Brooklyn roster and even notching a 20 and 10 game against the Bucks. In the two game span against the Celtics, Wilson was able to score 24 points on Monday and 18 points on Wednesday to help lead the Nets stay on a steady course despite Celtics going on large runs.
When watching Wilson play, it is easy to tell his game is the most mature of all the players that were drafted by the organization back in June despite being the lowest drafted at No. 51. Playing three years at Kansas, Wilson was able to develop his game in a major college system, which eased the transition to the professional game. So has his drive and love of the game, as the Nets have said.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA,” Wilson told NetsDaily. “Whether I’m with Long Island or playing 4 minutes or 10 minutes with Brooklyn, I want to go as hard as I can...
“This season has been really fun so far,” Wilson said. “I believe I’m becoming different mentally and physically, and I’m also having lots of fun, which I think is the most important part. I’ve been having fun with the game that hopefully I can build upon that.”
Wilson has now played 15 G League games and 11 NBA games. In the 15 games with Long Island, Wilson is averaging 32.4 minutes a game while putting up 18.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting at a 48/42/76 clip. The 3-point number is particularly important for Wilson’s development. Wilson dropped the Draft in part because of skepticism regarding his 3-point shot.
And now, what you all have been waiting for, the weekly Dariq Whitehead update, but there’s not much of an update as he continues a slow recovery. Although there may not be announced minutes restrictions, Whitehead hasn’t played more than 23 minutes in a G League game. (He played 22 minutes vs. the Bucks.)
From what we have seen, the 6’6”, 220-pound wing seems to be moving just fine. Despite minutes restriction, Whitehead contributes greatly whenever he is on the floor. In recent games, he has been eager to draw contact and get out in transition for buckets at the rim, something that we did not see in the beginning stages of the season.
“The most important thing to me right now is the developmental process,” Whitehead said. “I want to be able to learn the NBA game along with the physicality and speed of it. Whenever I am called to give my all, I want to be able to be there and perform how I know I can perform.”
After Long Island plays Stockton tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET (which can be found on the G League’s official site), they play the Santa Cruz Warriors on Monday, then back to Stockton on Wednesday before heading home to Uniondale, Long Island, via Chicago for two games vs. the Windy City Bulls. They play again at home on January 23 vs. the Motor City Cruise, the Pistons affiliate.
And a roster note: Hoopshype is reporting that Armoni Brooks, who the Nets cut as a two-way player last week, is headed to the Ontario Clippers for the remainder of the season. The Nets have an open two-way spot.